Snow and ice go together like bees and flowers but many people regard ice as bothersome. It can be dangerous to walk and drive on ice and it’s usually an inconvenience to have to shovel out walkways and salt the paths so it’s safe to travel. Yet ice has an important part of everyday life. Ice is the reason we are able to refrigerate food and keep things fresh.
Simply stated, ice is water that has been frozen into a solid state. It must be below 32 degrees in order for snow and ice to form. Ice is usually transparent but it can sometimes appear white or bluish. Ice appears on planets other than earth; it has been seen on Mercury and the Oort Cloud (this kind of in-space ice is known as “interstellar ice”). On earth, ice is most abundant in the polar regions of the Artic and Antarctica.
Ice is an important component of earth’s global climate via the water cycle. Geological ice formations include sea ice, ice sheets, glaciers and icebergs. Ice also appears on earth’s climate as snowflakes, hail, frost, icicles and ice spikes. Ice is essential to the processes of precipitation and deposition. The importance of ice on the environment is one of the main reasons why global warming (and the subsequent decline of ice) is so worrying.
Humans can also use ice as a means of entertainment and recreational activities—even competitive sports. For example, ice skating is one of the most watched events in the Winter Olympic roster and ice sculpting is a popular artistic endeavor at parties and other social events.