Snow ice

Snow ice forms by refreezing flooded snow, creating an ice layer that bonds firmly to the top surface of a floe. Ice formed by this process and makes a significant contribution to the total mass of Antarctic sea ice. The snow cover of sea ice can become flooded by sea water via a number of mechanisms, in particular when the mass of snow becomes great enough to depress the ice/snow interface below sea level. The snow cover is porous and sea water can easily infiltrate from the sides of floes to form a slush layer at the ice/snow boundary. The snow may also become flooded by water rising up brine channels within the sea ice. With sufficiently cold temperatures this slush layer freezes to form snow ice.

This page was last modified on February 3, 2012.