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5 Incredible Ice Facts

Wherever you go in the Polar Regions, ice is sure to be all around you. You’ll be walking on it, sailing through it, and probably even drinking a refreshing beverage with it in, but how much do you really know about this slippery substance?

Ice covers a whopping 10% of the land mass on Earth and 7% of the oceans. Whilst only 2% of the total water on earth exists in the form of ice, a massive 68% of all the freshwater is stored in glaciers and the ice caps at the north and south poles.

If you’d be so n-ice to read on, here are five more fantastic freezing facts.

Airs And Climate Traces

Ice Cube Pile

When making ice cubes at home, it’s likely that you’ve seen tiny air bubbles form inside of them. This is due to the water aerating as it pours from the tap and tends to make the ice cloudy. Scientists working in Greenland are actually using this fact to determine the rate and possible effects of climate change around the world. To do this, they drill miles down into the ice sheet that covers the country to extract cores of ice.

Samples are then taken from the air bubbles inside, as these contain traces of greenhouse gases and give signals as to what the temperatures were like at that time. The ice here dates back 130,000 years to the last warm period on Earth, and so the study should give us valuable insight into what happens during a period of climate change.

How Much Is That Ice In The Window?

Ice Melting

In 19th century London, a trend started to develop whereby the high classes would show their wealth by how clear the ice at their dinner parties was. The clearest ice in the capital could be found at a shop on the Strand which was owned by ‘Wenham Lake Ice’, a company that shipped their product over from America, having been collected from Lake Wenham in Massachusetts.

Every day, the shop would have a block of ice in the window with a newspaper behind it so that passers-by could see just how clear it was. There would usually be a large group of people crowded around, trying to catch a glimpse of the frozen water that even Queen Victoria used at Buckingham Palace.

This rather strange shipment did, however, cause confusion when it was first brought over to the UK. Customs officials took so long to work out what it was, and find something to classify the package under, that it melted - all 300 tons of it.

Ice Identities

Ice Cube Walls

All ice is the same, right? Wrong. There are actually around 18 different kinds of ice, each classified depending on things such as density, the shape of the crystals that make it up, and the extent to which these crystals exist. Each kind of ice is referred to by a Roman numeral, from two types of ‘Ice I’ all the way up to ‘Ice XVI’. The most common form, that which you will find in your freezer, is known as ‘Ice IV’.

Amongst the strangest types of ice are ‘Ice XI’, which has a tiny electric charge, ‘Ice V’, which has the most complicated structure of crystals, and ‘Ice III’, which is so dense that it would sink to the bottom if you were to put in it your drink. Perhaps the strangest form of ice, though, is that which isn’t classified with a Roman numeral. It is simply known as amorphous ice and is found abundantly throughout space. Although we think of all ice being a solid form of water, amorphous ice is the closest to actually being solid and is therefore technically classed as a mineral.

The Iceman Cometh

Man Frozen In Ice

In 1991, a discovery was made in the Alps that would help us learn so much about how man lived in this part of the world over 5,000 years ago. Ötzi, so called because he was found in the Ötztal Alps, is Europe’s most intact, naturally preserved mummy and is now on display in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. It is thought that he lived sometime between 3,359 and 3,105 BCE.

Because the mummy was frozen in ice, archaeologists were able to learn so much from both his body and the things that were found around him. They could determine what his clothes were made of, how advanced the tools and weapons he carried were, and could even tell what his last meal was - deer meat, grains and bread.

As Hot As Ice

Hot Written In Ice

Although it sounds strange, hot water actually freezes quicker than cold water. This is known as the Mpemba effect and is so called because of the persistence shown by Tanzanian student Erasto Mpemba in proving the fact. Determined to confirm something first theorized by Aristotle, he continually showed that a hot ice-cream mixture would freeze faster than a cold one.

Until 2013, it was not known why this fact was true. However, scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University now know that it is down to the bonds which hold water molecules together behaving differently in warm water than they do in cold. Medium.com has the full explanation for those with a physics brain.

If you would like to get up close and personal with large amounts of this fascinating substance, Fred.\ Expeditions can provide a wide range of polar cruises. Quench your first for adventure by giving us a call or submitting your enquiry online.