Icebergs in the Southern Ocean
Click on image for full size
Frozen water is found in many different places on Earth. Snow blankets the ground at mid and high latitudes during winter. Sea ice and icebergs float in the chilly waters of polar oceans. Ice shelves are found where ocean meets land in Earth’s polar regions. Glaciers and ice sheets move slowly over land in polar regions. Glaciers are also found on high mountaintops around the world. The soils of polar regions, called permafrost, are filled with frozen water. Together, these different types of frozen water are known as the Earth’s cryosphere.
Some parts of the cryosphere, such as snow and the ice on ponds and lakes, are only around during the winter. Other parts, such as glaciers and ice sheets, stay frozen year-round and, in fact, can stay that way for tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years.
Here are some of the ways that snow and ice are important for our planet!
- Because snow and ice are light in color, they reflect more of the Sun’s energy back into space than dark-colored land and ocean water.
- When ice and snow melt, the water becomes part of the hydrosphere. Animals and plants rely on the melt water to stay alive.
- Many different living things with rely on parts of the cryosphere for water and habitat. Polar bears roam across Arctic sea ice, Arctic cod take shelter in areas underneath the sea ice. Some penguins rely on ice during their breeding season.
- Glaciers and ice sheets shape the land surface. They erode rocks as the ice moves slowly across the land and then deposit the sediments in other places.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!Cool It!
is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
Sea ice is frozen seawater. It floats on the oceans that are in Earth's polar regions. The salt in the seawater does not freeze. Very salty water gets trapped in the sea ice when it forms. The pockets...more
Icebergs are large pieces of ice that are floating in the ocean. They broke off of ice shelves or glaciers in Earth’s polar regions. Icebergs are a part of the cryosphere. Almost all of an iceberg is below...more
Ice shelves are found at the edges of glaciers and ice sheet. An ice sheet extends from land out over the ocean. Ice shelves are a part of the Earth's cryosphere. They can be found in both the north polar...more
This page is not yet developed at the elementary level. Please check back for updates or click on the "Intermediate" button above for information....more
This page is not yet developed at the elementary level. Please check back soon for updates or click on the "Intermediate" button above....more
If you sneeze into a pile of dust the little particles fly everywhere, but if you sneeze into a pile of rocks, they will stay put. It takes more force than a sneeze to move those rocks. Winds and water...more
Did you know that even if you have never seen an iceberg or glacier, the snow and ice of the Earth’s cryosphere has a big impact on the climate where you live? Changes in the amounts of snow and ice on...more