Sea Ice and Salinity: A Classroom Lab
Source: American Geosciences Institute
[27-May-2022] What is sea ice? It is simply frozen ocean water. Why is sea ice important? While it occurs mainly in polar regions, sea ice influences our global climate. Changing amounts of sea ice can affect ocean circulation, weather patterns, and temperatures around the world. Sea ice insulates the relatively warm ocean water from the cold polar atmosphere, except where cracks in the ice allow for the exchange of heat and moisture. The exchange of salt between sea ice and the ocean alters the density of ocean waters, thus influencing ocean circulation. Many animals, such as polar bears, seals, and walruses, depend on sea ice for their habitat. These species hunt, feed, and breed on the ice.
What are the effects of salinity on the formation of sea ice? Will salt water freeze more quickly or more slowly than fresh water? To find out, try this classroom laboratory investigation, using simple materials, and lead students in a guided exploration. Data collection takes place over 48 hours. Recommended for grades: 6-10, with NGSS Earth System topics and NSES standards listed. This activity was originally adapted with permission from UCLA Marine Science Center's OceanGLOBE, with data from NASA Aquarius and National Snow and Ice Data Center.
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