Drift ice

Drift ice
Drift ice, Greenland

Drift ice is ice that floats on the surface of the water in cold regions, as opposed to fast ice, which is attached ("fastened") to a shore. Usually drift ice is carried along by winds and sea currents, hence its name, "drift ice".

When the drift ice is driven together into a large single mass, it is called pack ice. Wind and currents can pile up ice to form ridges three to four metres high, creating obstacles difficult for powerful icebreakers to penetrate. Typically areas of pack ice are identified by high percentage of surface coverage by ice: e.g., 80-100%.

An ice floe is a large piece of drift ice that might range from tens of metres (yards) to several kilometres in diameter. Wider chunks of ice are called ice fields.

The two major ice packs are the Arctic ice pack and the Antarctic ice pack.

In many areas such as the Baltic, drift ice is traditionally a seasonal event, appearing in winter and vanishing in warmer seasons.

Seasonal ice drift in the Sea of Okhotsk by the northern coast of Hokkaidō, Japan has become a tourist attraction of this area with harsh climate,[1] and is one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. The Sea of Okhotsk is the southernmost area in the Northern hemisphere where drift ice may be observed.[2]

Drift ice affects:

  • Security of navigation
  • Climatic impact (see Polar ice packs)
  • Geological impact
  • Biosphere influence (see Ecology of sea ice)

The most important areas of pack ice are the polar ice packs formed from seawater in the Earth's polar regions: the Arctic ice pack of the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic ice pack of the Southern Ocean. Polar packs significantly change their size during seasonal changes of the year. Because of vast amounts of water added to or removed from the oceans and atmosphere, the behavior of polar ice packs has a significant impact on global changes in climate.

Icebreaker Kontio assisting merchant vessel in pack ice in the northern Baltic sea. In this photo the Kontio has become stuck in drift ice while towing a cargo ship.
Ice floes / pack ice
Satellite image of drift ice in the Arctic Ocean around Wrangel Island

See also


  1. ^ "A Port's Ice Is Thinning, and So Is Its Tourist Trade", New York Times, March 14, 2006.
  2. ^ Honda, Meiji, Koji Yamazaki, Hisashi Nakamura, Kensuke Takeuchi, 1999: Dynamic and Thermodynamic Characteristics of Atmospheric Response to Anomalous Sea-Ice Extent in the Sea of Okhotsk. J. Climate, 12, 3347–3358.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • drift ice — noun masses of ice floating in the open sea • Hypernyms: ↑ice * * * noun : sea or lake ice broken apart by winds and currents : fragments of a floe * * * detached floating ice in masses that drift with the wind or ocean currents, as in the polar… …   Useful english dictionary

  • drift ice — dreifuojantis ledas statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Centrinio poliarinio baseino upėse ir ežeruose pavasarį judančios ledo lytys. Šiame baseine ant dreifuojančių ledo lyčių nuo 1937 m. kuriamos mokslinio tyrimo stotys.… …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • drift ice — /ˈdrɪft aɪs/ (say drift uys) noun detached floating ice in masses which drift with the wind or ocean currents, as in the polar seas …  

  • drift ice — detached floating ice in masses that drift with the wind or ocean currents, as in the polar seas. [1590 1600] * * * …   Universalium

  • drift ice — n. floating ice, masses of ice that float in the open sea …   English contemporary dictionary

  • drift ice — noun One or more floating slabs of ice which have become detached from larger sheets or shoreline glaciers and which are moved by wind or sea currents …   Wiktionary

  • drift ice — noun detached pieces of ice drifting with the wind or ocean currents …   English new terms dictionary

  • drift-ice — noun (U) pieces of broken ice floating in a sea, river etc …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • drift-ice — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Ice drift — is movement of ice. An important type of ice drift it drift of the sea ice, i.e., of the drift ice. Unless specified otherwise, this article discusses the drift of the sea ice. The direction of the ice drift is the vector sum of the oceanic and… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”