MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Why is ice important in nature?

Date: Thu Oct 16 17:59:28 2008
Posted By: Matthew Buynoski, Process Integration Engineer
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1202164917.Es

Hello,  Bhav!

Ice has some unusual properties, the most important of which is that it floats.  It is rather rare in nature 
that the solid of a substance (in this case, water) is less dense than the liquid phase.  It is because ice 
floats that lakes, for example, do not freeze solid in the wintertime. Ice forms first, and tends to insulate 
the water below from further heat loss.  Moreover, if ice did sink,  the arctic and antarctic regions would 
be solid ice down the bottom of the ocean basin.  This could have a considerable effect on the deep ocean 
currents, and all sorts of effects on the climate.

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