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Ice is the name given to any one of the 14 known solid phases of water. In non-scientific contexts, it usually describes ice Ih, which is the most abundant of these phases. It is a crystalline solid, which can appear transparent or an opaque bluish-white color depending on the presence of impurities such as air. The addition of other materials such as soil may further alter appearance.

The most common phase transition to ice Ih occurs when liquid water is cooled below 0 °C (273.15 K, 32 °F) at standard atmospheric pressure. It can also deposit from a vapor with no intervening liquid phase, such as in the formation of frost.

Ice appears in nature in varied forms such as hail and glaciers. It plays an important role with many meteorological phenomena. The ice caps of the polar regions are of significance for the global climate and particularly the water cycle. It has many applications.


As a naturally occurring crystalline solid, ice is considered a mineral consisting of hydrogen oxide.

An unusual property of ice frozen at a pressure of one atmosphere is that the solid is some 8% less dense than liquid water. Water is the only known non-metallic substance to expand when it freezes. Ice has a density of 0.9167 g/cm³ at 0 °C, whereas water has a density of 0.9998 g/cm³ at the same temperature. Liquid water is most dense, essentially 1.00 g/cm³, at 4 °C and becomes less dense as the water molecules begin to form the hexagonal crystals of ice as the temperature drops to 0 °C. (In fact, the word "crystal" derives from Greek word for frost.) This is due to hydrogen bonds forming between the water molecules, which line up molecules less efficiently (in terms of volume) when water is frozen. The result of this is that ice floats on liquid water, an important factor in Earth's climate. Density of ice increases slightly with decreasing temperature (density of ice at −180 °C (93 K) is 0.9340 g/cm³).

When ice melts, it absorbs as much heat energy (the heat of fusion) as it would take to heat an equivalent mass of water by 80 °C, while its temperature remains a constant 0 °C.

It is also theoretically possible to superheat ice beyond its equilibrium melting point. Simulations of ultrafast laser pulses acting on ice shows it can be heated up to room temperature for an extremely short period (250 ps) without melting it. It is possible that the interior of an ice crystal has a melting point above 0 °C and that the normal melting at 0 °C is just a surface effect. [1]


Another consequence of ice's lower density than water is that pressure decreases its melting point, potentially forcing ice back into a liquid state. Until recently it was widely believed that ice was slippery because the pressure of an object in contact with it caused a thin layer to melt. For example, the blade of an ice skate, exerting pressure on the ice, melted a thin layer, providing lubrication between the ice and the blade.

This explanation is no longer widely accepted. There is still debate about why ice is slippery. The explanation gaining acceptance is that ice molecules in contact with air cannot properly bond with the molecules of the mass of ice beneath (and thus are free to move like molecules of liquid water). These molecules remain in a semiliquid state, providing lubrication regardless of any object exerting pressure against the ice. [2]

This phenomenon does not seem to hold true at all temperatures. The extreme conditions found on the South Pole have been observed to make ice and snow not slippery.

This may also be observed when, at times, a block of ice, such as is commonly found in freezers can stick to skin or other surfaces. This only happens when the block of ice is again, cold enough to allow the outer layer to fully harden into ice, and is thus not a common phenomenon.

Types of ice

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Ice coating the branches of a tree.
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Ice forming on a wooden railing.
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Ice coating the branches of a bush.
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Harvesting ice on Lake Saint Clair in Michigan, circa 1905.

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Ice surfing on the Żnin Small Lake.

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U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers near McMurdo Station, February 2002.

Everyday ice and snow has a hexagonal crystal structure (ice Ih). Subjected to higher pressures and varying temperatures, ice can form in roughly a dozen different phases. Only a little less stable (metastable) than Ih is the cubic structure (Ic).

With both cooling and pressure more types exist, each being created depending on the phase diagram of ice. These are II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X. With care all these types can be recovered at ambient pressure. The types are differentiated by their crystalline structure, ordering and density. There are also two metastable phases of ice under pressure, both fully hydrogen disordered, these are IV and XII. Ice XII was discovered in 1996. In 2006, XIII and XIV were discovered.[3] Ices XI, XIII, and XIV are hydrogen-ordered forms of ices Ih, V, and XII respectively.

As well as crystalline forms, solid water can exist in amorphous states as amorphous solid water (ASW), low density amorphous ice (LDA), high density amorphous ice (HDA), very high density amorphous ice (VHDA) and hyperquenched glassy water (HGW).

Rime is a type of ice formed on cold objects when drops of water crystalize on them. This can be observed in foggy weather, when the temperature drops during night. Soft rime contains a high proportion of trapped air, making it appear white rather than transparent, and giving it a density about one quarter of that of pure ice. Hard rime is comparatively denser.

Aufeis is layered ice that forms in arctic and subarctic stream valleys. Ice frozen in the stream bed blocks normal groundwater discharge and causes the local water table to rise, resulting in water discharge on top of the frozen layer. This water then freezes, causing the water table to rise further and repeat the cycle. The result is a stratified ice deposit, often several meters thick.

Ice can also form icicles, similar to stalactites in appearance, as water drips and re-freezes.

Clathrate hydrates are forms of ice that contain gas molecules trapped within its crystal lattice. Pancake ice is a formation of ice generally created in areas with less calm conditions.

Some other substances (particularly solid forms of those usually found as fluids) are also called "ice": dry ice, for instance, is a popular term for solid carbon dioxide.

In outer space hexagonal crystalline ice, the predominant form on Earth, is extremely rare. Amorphous ice is more common; however, hexagonal crystalline ice can be formed via volcanic action. [4]

Uses of ice

Ice harvesting

Ice has long been valued as a means of cooling. Until recently, the Hungarian Parliament building used ice harvested in the winter from Lake Balaton for air conditioning. Icehouses were used to store ice formed in the winter to make ice available year-round, and early refrigerators were known as iceboxes because they had a block of ice in them. In many cities it was not unusual to have a regular ice delivery service during the summer. For the first half of the 19th century, ice harvesting had become big business in America. New Englander Frederic Tudor, who became known as the “Ice King,” worked on developing better insulation products for the long distance shipment of ice, especially to the tropics. The advent of artificial refrigeration technology has since made delivery of ice obsolete.

In 400 BC Iran, Persian engineers had already mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in specially designed, naturally cooled refrigerators, called yakhchal (meaning ice storage). This was a large underground space (up to 5000 m³) that had thick walls (at least two meters at the base) made out of a special mortar called sārooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, and which was resistant to heat transfer. This mixture was thought to be completely water impenetrable. The space often had access to a Qanat, and often contained a system of windcatchers that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels in summer days. The ice was then used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days.

Sports on ice

Ice also plays a role in winter recreation, in many sports such as ice skating, tour skating, ice hockey, ice fishing, ice climbing, curling and sled racing on bobsled, luge and skeleton. A sort of sailboat on blades gives rise to iceboating.

The human quest for excitement has even led to ice racing, where drivers must speed on lake ice while also controlling the skid of their vehicle (similar in some ways to dirt track racing). The sport has even been modified for ice rinks.

Ice travel

Ice can also be an obstacle; for harbors near the poles, being ice-free is an important advantage, ideally all-year round. Examples are Murmansk (Russia), Petsamo (Russia, formerly Finland) and Vardø (Norway). Harbors that are not ice-free are opened up using icebreakers.

Ice forming on roads is a dangerous winter hazard. Black ice is very difficult to see because it lacks the expected glossy surface. Whenever there is freezing rain or snow that occurs at a temperature near the melting point, it is common for ice to build up on the windows of vehicles. Driving safely requires the removal of the ice build-up. Ice scrapers are tools designed to break the ice free and clear the windows, though removing the ice can be a long and labor-intensive process.

Far enough below the freezing point, a thin layer of ice crystals can form on the inside surface of windows. This usually happens when a vehicle has been left alone after being driven for a while, but can happen while driving if the outside temperature is low enough. Moisture from the driver's breath is the source of water for the crystals. It is troublesome to remove this form of ice, so people often open their windows slightly when the vehicle is parked in order to let the moisture dissipate, and it is now common for cars to have rear-window defrosters to combat the problem. A similar problem can happen in homes, which is one reason why many colder regions require double-pane windows for insulation.

When the outdoor temperature stays below freezing for extended periods, very thick layers of ice can form on lakes and other bodies of water (although places with flowing water require much colder temperatures). The ice can become thick enough to drive onto with automobiles and trucks. Doing this safely requires a thickness of at least 30 centimeters (one foot).

For ships, ice presents two distinct hazards. Spray and freezing rain can produce an ice build-up on the superstructure of a vessel sufficient to make it unstable and to require it to be hacked off or melted with steam hoses. And large masses of ice floating in water (typically created when glaciers reach the sea) can be dangerous if struck by a ship when under way. These masses are called icebergs and have been responsible for the sinking of many ships - a notable example being the Titanic.

For aircraft, ice can cause a number of dangers. As an aircraft climbs, it passes through air layers of different temperature and humidity, some of which may be conducive to ice formation. If ice forms on the wings or control surfaces, this may adversely affect the flying qualities of the aircraft. During the first non-stop flight of the Atlantic, the British aviators Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown encountered such icing conditions - heroically, Brown left the cockpit and climbed onto the wing several times to remove ice which was covering the engine air intakes of the Vickers Vimy aircraft they were flying.

A particular icing vulnerability associated with reciprocating internal combustion engines is the carburettor. As air is sucked through the carburettor into the engine the local air pressure is lowered, which causes adiabatic cooling. So, in humid close-to-freezing conditions, the carburettor will be colder and tend to ice up. This will block the supply of air to the engine, and cause it to fail. Modern aircraft reciprocating engines are provided with carburettor air intake heaters for this reason. Jet engines do not experience the problem.

Other uses of ice

  • Engineers leveraged pack ice's formidable strength when they constructed Antarctica's first floating ice pier in 1973.[5] Such ice piers are used during cargo operations to load and offload ships. Fleet operations personnel make the floating pier during the winter. They build upon naturally occurring frozen seawater in McMurdo Sound until the dock reaches a depth of about 22 feet. Ice piers have a lifespan of three to five years.
  • The manufacture and use of ice cubes or crushed ice is common for drinks.
  • Pagophagia, a type of pica eating disorder, is the compulsive consumption of ice.
  • Structures and ice sculptures are built out of large chunks of ice. The structures are mostly ornamental (as in the case with ice castles) and not practical for long-term habitation. Ice hotels exist on a seasonal basis in a few cold areas. Igloos are another example of a temporary structure, made primarily from snow.
  • During World War II, Project Habbakuk was a British program which investigated the use of pykrete (wood fibres mixed with ice) as a possible material for warships, especially aircraft carriers due to the ease with which a large deck could be constructed, but the idea was given up when there were not enough funds for construction of a prototype.
  • It has been shown on Mythbusters that ice can be used to start a fire by carving it into a lens that will focus sunlight onto kindling. When one waits long enough, a fire will start.
  • In global warming, ice plays an important part because it reflects 90% of the sun's rays.

Ice at different pressures

Most liquids freeze at a higher temperature under pressure because the pressure helps to hold the molecules together. However, the strong hydrogen bonds in water make it different: water freezes at a temperature below 0 °C under a pressure higher than 1 atm. Consequently water also remains frozen at a temperature above 0 °C under a pressure lower than 1 atm. The melting of ice under high pressures is thought to contribute to why glaciers move. Ice formed at high pressure has a different crystal structure and density than ordinary ice. Ice, water, and water vapor can coexist at the triple point, which is 273.16 K at a pressure of 611.73 Pa.

Phases of ice

Phase Characteristics
Amorphous iceAmorphous ice is an ice lacking crystal structure. Amorphous ice exists in three forms: low-density (LDA) formed at atmospheric pressure, or below, high density (HDA) and very high density amorphous ice (VHDA), forming at higher pressures. LDA forms by extremely quick cooling of liquid water ("hyperquenched glassy water", HGW), by depositing water vapour on very cold substrates ("amorphous solid water", ASW) or by heating high density forms of ice at ambient pressure ("LDA").
Ice IhNormal hexagonal crystalline ice. Virtually all ice in the biosphere is ice Ih, with the exception only of a small amount of ice Ic.
Ice IcMetastable cubic crystalline variant of ice. The oxygen atoms are arranged in a diamond structure. It is produced at temperatures between 130-150 K, and is stable for up to 200 K, when it transforms into ice Ih. It is occasionally present in the upper atmosphere.
Ice IIA rhombohedral crystalline form with highly ordered structure. Formed from ice Ih by compressing it at temperature of 190-210 K. When heated it undergoes transformation to ice III.
Ice IIIA tetragonal crystalline ice, formed by cooling water down to 250 K at 300 MPa. Least dense of the high-pressure phases. Denser than water.
Ice IVMetastable rhombohedral phase. Does not easily form without a nucleating agent.
Ice VA monoclinic crystalline phase. Formed by cooling water to 253 K at 500 MPa. Most complicated structure of all the phases.
Ice VIA tetragonal crystalline phase. Formed by cooling water to 270 K at 1.1 GPa. Exhibits Debye relaxation.
Ice VIIA cubic phase. The hydrogen atoms' position is disordered, the material shows Debye relaxation. The hydrogen bonds form two interpenetrating lattices.
Ice VIIIA more ordered version of ice VII, where the hydrogen atoms assume fixed positions. Formed from ice VII by cooling it beyond 5 °C.
Ice IXA tetragonal metastable phase. Formed gradually from ice III by cooling it from 208 K to 165 K, stable below 140 K and pressures between 200 and 400 MPa. It has density of 1.16 g/cm³, slightly higher than ordinary ice.
Ice XProton-ordered symmetric ice. Forms at about 70 GPa.
Ice XIAn orthorhombic low-temperature equilibrium form of hexagonal ice. It is ferroelectric.
Ice XIIA tetragonal metastable dense crystalline phase. It is observed in the phase space of ice V and ice VI. It can be prepared by heating high-density amorphous ice from 77 K to about 183 K at 810 MPa.

In fiction

Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle features Ice IX as a central element of the plot, although real Ice IX does not have the properties of Vonnegut's fictional ice-nine (i.e. the ability to freeze all water on Earth with the introduction of one granule).


1. ^ [1]
2. ^ [2]
3. ^ C.G. Salzmann, P.G. Radaelli, A. Hallbrucker, E. Mayer, J.L. Finney, Science 311, 1758, 2006
4. ^ [3]
5. ^ "Unique ice pier provides harbor for ships," Antarctic Sun. January 8, 2006; McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

See also

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Feather ice on the plateau near Alta, Norway. The crystals form at temperatures below −30°C (i.e. −22°F).
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Parameter to measure the size of a sea ice floe.

External links


February 2007 in Virginia; ice covered trees

Ice Encased Trees and Bushes in Winter

Ice Coated Bush in Winter

Row of Icicles

A natural, 4 tonne, block of ice on a beach in Iceland

Ice pier during 1983 cargo operations. McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

A glass of iced water.

Ice on a fence, frozen during winter.

Icicles forming on a cabin's roof at Dinner Plain Australia.

An ancient ice house (yakhchal) in Kerman, Iran, built during the Middle Ages for storing harvested ice.

Icicles formed at all angles by water splashes and wind-blown spray. A hillside, Harlech, Wales

Pancake ice formed by alternating above/below freezing temperatures and wave action at the mouth of the Winooski river, Burlington, Vermont

Half-melted block of ice from a New Zealand glacier, note the honeycomb-like structure

Ice crystals

Weird strings of ice found in the Adirondack Region of New York State

Ground ice strings close up...ANYONE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE REALLY CALLED????
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The International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft was originally known as International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) satellite, launched August 12, 1978. It was part of the ISEE (International Sun-Earth Explorer) international cooperative program between NASA and ESA to
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Integrated Collaboration Environment (ICE) is defined as the environment in which a virtual team do their work. These environments allow companies to realize a number of competitive advantages by using their existing computers and network infrastructure for group and personal
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The Information Council on the Environment (ICE), was a U.S. organization created by the National Coal Association, the Western Fuels Association, and Edison Electrical Institute.
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Communist Left of Spain (in Spanish: Izquierda Comunista de España) was a Trotskyist political party during the Second Spanish Republic; it eventually merged with the Right Opposition communist party Bloque Obrero y Campesino
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An in-circuit emulator (ICE) also called on-circuit debugger (OCD) or background debug module (BDM) is a hardware device used to debug the software of an embedded system.
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Compilation error refers to a state when a compiler fails to compile a piece of computer program source code, either due to errors from the compiler itself, or more likely syntax errors in the code.
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The ICE Feistel function

Matthew Kwan


Cipher detail
Key size(s):| 64 bits (ICE), 64×n bits (ICE-n)

Block size(s):| 64 bits
Feistel network
16 (ICE), 8 (Thin-ICE), 16×n
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Information and Content Exchange (ICE) is an XML-based protocol used for content syndication via the Internet. By using XML both sender and receiver have an agreed-upon language in which to communicate. The system uses a Client-Server architecture.
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The Internet Communications Engine, or Ice, is a Remote Procedure Call and object middleware system developed by ZeroC and dual-licensed under the GNU GPL and a proprietary license.
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X Window System (commonly X11 or X) is a display protocol which provides windowing on bitmap displays. It provides the standard toolkit and protocol to build graphical user interfaces (GUIs) on Unix-like operating systems and OpenVMS, and has been ported to all other
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Digital Image Correction and Enhancement is a set of technologies related to producing an altered image in a variety of frequency spectra. The objective of these technologies is to render an image more usable by Fourier or other filtering techniques.
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The Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) draft, developed by the IETF's MMUSIC working group, provides a mechanism for NAT traversal, using various techniques. In particular, it is used to allow SIP-based VoIP clients to successfully traverse the variety of firewalls that
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Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an independent professional association, based in central London, representing civil engineers. Like its early membership, the majority of its current members are British engineers, but it also has members in more than 100 countries around
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Iron Crown Enterprises is a publisher of role playing, board, miniature battle, and collectible card games.

ICE was incorporated in 1980 shortly after the principal founders graduated from the University of Virginia.
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iCE Advertisements is a digital art group formed in 1991. Although the expanded title is rarely ever used, iCE is an acronym for Insane Creators Enterprise.
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Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad

Founded 1949[1]
Headquarters San José, Costa Rica

Key people Teófilo de la Torre Arguello, CEO
Industry electricity
Revenue US$500 million (2006)
Employees 2,500 (2006)

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IntercontinentalExchange® (NYSE: ICE) operates the leading global, electronic marketplace for trading both futures and OTC energy contracts. ICE offers a range of contracts based on crude oil and refined products, natural gas, power and emissions.
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InterCityExpress or ICE (German pronunciation: [iːtseːˈeː]) is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany and its neighbouring countries.
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Walkers-ABB InterCity Express (ICE) are a model of electric multiple unit used by Citytrain in South East Queensland, Australia.


QR introduced the ICE sets in 1988, for use on the North Coast Line between Brisbane and Rockhampton.
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Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad

DM&E and IC&E combined route map as of 2002.
Reporting marks ICE
Locale Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin
Dates of operation 2003 – present
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An ICE table or ICE chart is a tabular system of keeping track of changing concentrations in an equilibrium reaction. ICE stands for "Initial, Change, Equilibrium".
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The Bergier commission in Bern was formed by the Swiss government on 12 December 1996. It is also known as the ICE ("Independent Commission of Experts").

It was established by the Swiss Parliament and headed by Jean-François Bergier, an economic historian.
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In Car Entertainment, commonly referred to as ICE is a collection of hardware devices installed into automobiles, or other forms of transportation, to provide audio and/or audio/visual entertainment.
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ICE is a 2007 original video animation created by Yasushi Akimoto and directed by Makoto Kobayashi. It is set in the ruins of Tokyo in the near future, after an unspecified catastrophe has led to the death of all human males and many females.
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Original video animation (オリジナル・ビデオ・アニメーション
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Ice is frozen water.

Ice may also refer to:
  • Ice (band), a British industrial/hip hop band
  • Ice (comics), a comic book character
  • Ice (film), a 2000 Made for TV movie
  • Ice (novel), a 2002 alternate history novel by Shane Johnson about a fictitious

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