Believe it or not, sea ice is frozen ocean water. Not to be confused with ice shelves which originate on land, sea ice is formed, expands and contracts, and melts all on the ocean.
Large swaths of it may be hard to see since it is usually covered with snow year round. Sea ice plays an important role in the regulation of arctic climates since it’s bright white appearance reflects almost all natural sunlight back into space; this will keep the polar regions cool in winter. The opposite is true when the seasons change; summer conditions will melt some of the snow exposing the dark color of the ocean. This results in sunlight absorption warming the ocean waters contributing to changes across the entire ocean’s ecosystems.
Join Photofly for an Antartica group tour now!