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Current Glaciology Research

Much of the research currently being conducted in glaciology is focused on reducing the impact that ice has on modern society. Ice causes damage to pipes in homes, damages crops, restricts ability to travel, breaks power lines and other property, interferes with the function of airplanes and ships, along with other human considerations, such as contributing to accidental injuries. Engineers study ice to better prepare to build structures that interact with it, such as airplanes, ships and even oil platforms on the ocean. Climatologists and environmental scientists are working to understand the effects of global warming on the polar ice caps. Meteorologists study the formation of ice in the atmosphere. Other scientists are looking for improved methods by which ice can be controlled on roads. Biologists work to develop methods of protecting crops from frost damage. Physicists and engineers try to improve understanding of the properties of ice in order to improve the performance of sports equipment such as snow skis and ice skates. Geologists are studying the formation of ice volcanoes along the shores of the Great Lakes. Also, space scientists are looking for additional ice in our solar system and beyond, and planning new techniques and equipment that will allow man to someday utilize that ice in the exploration of other worlds.

See also Ice ages; Icebergs.



Lock, G. S. H. The Growth and Decay of Ice. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Petrenko, Victor F., and Robert W. Whitworth. Physics of Ice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Pounder, Elton R. The Physics of Ice. New York: Pergamon Press, 1965.


Dolan, Michael, and Paul Kimberly. "Ice Volcanoes of Lake Superior's South Shore." [cited January 10, 2003]. <http://www.geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/ice/>

NASA. "Found It! Ice on Mars." May 28, 2002 [cited January 10, 2003]. <http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/28 may_marsice.htm>.

NASA National Space Science Data Center. "Ice on the Moon." December 3, 2002 [cited January 10, 2003]. <http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/ice/ice_moon.html>.

David B. Goings


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—The fraction of sunlight that a surface reflects. An albedo of zero indicates complete absorption, while an albedo of unity indicates total reflection.


—Said of substances that take multiple forms, such as graphite and diamond, usually in the same phase.

Freezing point

—The temperature at which a liquid solidifies, 32°F (0°C) for water.


—The study of all aspects of ice and its associated processes.

Hexagonal crystal system

—One of six crystal systems. Characterized by one axis that is of unequal length to three identical perpendicular axes, commonly displaying three- or six-fold symmetry.

Melting point

—The temperature at which a solid becomes liquid, 32∞F (0∞C) for ice.


—Permanently frozen soil or subsoil.


—The formation of new crystals, while in the solid state.


—A two-fold process involving the melting of ice under pressure and the refreezing of the melt water upon the release of that pressure.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Hydrazones to IncompatibilityIce - Structure Of Ice, Physical Properties Of Ice, Natural Ice Occurrence, Current Glaciology Research