Colour photographs, Glossary, Bibliography, Index
The Natural History Museum, London
Pack ice, or sea ice is a layer of frozen seawater on the top of the polar oceans, varying in thickness from a few centimetres to 10s of metres. At its maximum extent it covers 13% of the Earth's surface area, making it one of the major biomes on the planet. This gives rise to a spectacular floating world that for a number of months each year becomes home to a wealth of plant and animal life.
For many years seen as an obstacle to trade and a threat to human life, the ice itself is now perceived to be vulnerable as we come to realize the dangers posed by global warming. Sea ice not only dominates polar regions but is also central to global ocean circulation as well as global climate patterns.
This is the first book to offer the general reader access to a remote frozen habitat, which has for so long fascinated explorers, writers and scientists. The wonderful colour photographs of life on, in and under the ice help draw the reader into this superb account of an extreme environment. Guaranteed to capture the imagination.
The author is a veteran of six expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, and this book is packed with photographs taken in the course of his journeys. His lively and readable text conveys his excitement at the dangers and possibilities of life on the ice. He provides an in-depth background to the whole ecosystem of sea ice, its living communities and the structure of the ice itself. The level of accurate scientific detail will satisfy anyone looking for a reliable, up-to-date overview of this topic.
First book about this fascinating topic available to the general reader
Based on author's journeys to polar regions
Lively, informative text and stunning photographs
Chapter 1: What is pack ice?
Icebergs vs. pack ice Chapter 2: What happens to seawater when it freezes?
How sea ice is really like a brine filled sponge, permeated by a labyrinth of channels and pores.
Different types of pack ice
Growth, breaking up of, how long it lasts Chapter 3. Pack ice regions of the world
Global ice coverage
Differences between Arctic and Antarctic
Baltic, Caspian and White Seas
How important sea ice formation is for driving ocean circulation
How important sea ice formation is for driving climate patterns
The possible effects of global climate change on gross distribution of sea ice at the poles Chapter 4: Life within a block of ice
The microbiology of organisms that live in sea ice
Tolerance and survival
The importance of sea ice organisms for the plankton of The ice covered seas and oceans Chapter 5: Microbiology inside the ice
Viruses and bacteria
Protozoa Chapter 6: Animals in and around the ice
Krill, the key to the Southern Ocean ecosystem
Fish, in particular ice fish with antifreeze proteins Chapter 7: Life under the ice
Benthic communities of slow growing giant invertebrates
Communities of seaweeds at their tolerance limits under the ice. Chapter 8: Mammals, birds and the ice
Petrels and other birds associated with ice
Penguins Chapter 9: Studying the pack ice
Historical introduction to the exploration of polar regions
From the early days to modern day expeditions and ice camps
Problems of working in the pack ice Chapter 10: Pack ice - threats and potential
Conservation of polar regions
Exploitation of mineral resources
Scientific pressures and the possibility to study ice processes in large scale experimental establishments in which ice processes can be simulated.
Treaties and organisations trying to preserve polar regions Glossary
General readers; educational: secondary and undergraduate students, polar studies students.
"Overall this book is an excellent general introduction to sea ice, and particularly to the incredible biological diversity that can be found in the polar oceans… I recommend this book to a wide audience that includes not only the general reader, but also polar scientists wanting a broad introduction to a discipline or a hemisphere that is outside their specialty."
Ian Allison (Aurora, Dec. 2005)
David Thomas is a marine biologist at the University of Wales, Bangor, and has worked in polar regions since 1991. He has conducted several expeditions to the Antarctic and the Arctic and carried out research into the pack ice of the Baltic Sea. He has written popular science features about sea ice for Science, BBC Wildlife Magazine and New Scientist, and is author of Seaweeds (Natural History Museum, 2002) and the academic edition An Introduction to Sea Ice (Blackwells Scientific, 2003).