sea ice


a process by which currents or winds push around thin ice so they slide over each other; also called finger rafting.
Nilas showing finger rafting. (Photo courtesy of the Antarctic Sea-Ice Processes and Climate program (ASPeCt).)

rafted ice

deformed sea ice in which one piece has overridden another; also called telescoped ice.

pressure ridge

process that occurs when wind, ocean currents, and other forces push sea ice around into piles that rise and form small mountains above the level sea ice surface; ridges are initially thin and transparent with very sharp edges from blocks of ice piling up; also see keels.

pressure ice

a general term for floating ice which has been squeezed together and in places forced upwards; includes rafted ice, telescoped ice, hummocked ice and ridge ice.


irregularly shaped areas of persistent open water that are sustained by winds or ocean heat; they often occur near coasts, fast ice, or ice shelves.
Satellite view of polynyas (dark areas) near Oates Coast, Antarctica (solid white area at bottom of photo). (Photo courtesy of NASA.)

permanent ice zone

a region that is covered with sea ice year-round; most of the sea ice in the permanent ice zone is multiyear ice, but younger ice and open water may still be present; the permanent ice zone is what remains in summer after all melting has occurred (often called the summer minimum extent).


a collection of pack ice, less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) across, whose limits can be seen from the masthead.

pancake ice

pieces of new ice approximately circular, up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) thick and 0.03 to 3 meters (0.1 to 9.8 feet) in diameter, with raised edges that form from rubbing against each other; formed from the freezing together of grease ice, slush or shuga, or the reaking up of ice rind or nilas.
(Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.)

pack ice

ice that is not attached to the shoreline and drifts in response to winds, currents, and other forces; some prefer the generic term drift ice, and reserve pack ice to mean drift ice that is closely packed.

open water

a large area of freely navigable water in which floes may be present in concentration under 1/10th; if there is no sea ice present, the area may be termed open water, even though icebergs are present.


Subscribe to RSS - sea ice