Ice is a solid phase, usually crystalline, of a non-metalic substance that is liquid or gas at room temperature, such as ammonia ice or methane ice. However, the word "ice" normally means water ice, technically restricted to one of the 15 known crystalline phases of water. In non-scientific contexts, it usually describes ice Ih, which is known to be the most abundant of these phases. It can appear transparent or an opaque bluish-white colour, depending on the presence of impurities such as air. The addition of other materials such as soil may further alter the 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 vapour with no intervening liquid phase, such as in the formation of frost.
Ice appears in nature in forms as varied as snowflakes and hail, icicles, glaciers, pack ice, and entire polar ice caps. It is an important component of the global climate, particularly in regard to the water cycle. Furthermore, ice has numerous cultural applications, from the ice cooling one's drink to winter sports and ice sculpture.
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, which is an important factor in Earth's climate (if ice had sunk instead of floating, any body of water would have frozen from the bottom to the surface, killing any fish and other creatures not resistant to freezing temperatures). Density of ice increases slightly with decreasing temperature (density of ice at −180 °C (93 K) is 0.9340 g/cm³).
It is also theoretically possible to superheat ice beyond its equilibrium melting point. Simulations of ultrafast laser pulses acting on ice show it can be heated up to room temperature for an extremely short period (250 ps), without melting.
Light reflecting from ice can appear blue, because ice absorbs more of the red frequencies than the blue ones. Also, icebergs containing impurities (e.g. sediments, algae, air bubbles) can appear green.
Everyday ice and snow have 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).
At other temperatures and pressures, other forms of ice exist, including 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. 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 crystallize 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 metres thick.
In outer space, hexagonal crystalline ice (the predominant form found on Earth), is extremely rare. Amorphous ice is more common; however, hexagonal crystalline ice can be formed via volcanic action.
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 all year long, 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. 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 known to be 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 which could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels on summer days. The ice was then used to chill treats for royalty on such occasions.
Ice also plays a role in winter recreation, in many sports such as ice skating, tour skating, ice hockey, ice fishing, ice climbing, curling, broomball and sled racing on bobsled, luge and skeleton. Many of the different sports played on ice get international attention every four years during the Winter Olympic Games.
A sort of sailboat on blades gives rise to ice boating. 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 can also be an obstacle; for harbours near the poles, being ice-free is an important advantage; ideally, all year long. Examples are Murmansk (Russia), Petsamo (Russia, formerly Finland) and Vardø (Norway). Harbours which aren't 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 frosty surface. Whenever there is freezing rain or snow which 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 laborious 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 solve 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 centimetres (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 icebergs — large masses of ice floating in water (typically created when glaciers reach the sea) — can be dangerous if struck by a ship when underway. Icebergs have been responsible for the sinking of many ships, the most famous probably 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 - 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 near-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. For this reason, aircraft reciprocating engines with carburettors are provided with carburettor air intake heaters. The increasing use of fuel injection—which does not require carburettors—has made "carb icing" less of an issue for reciprocating engines.
Jet engines do not experience carb icing, but recent evidence indicates that they can be slowed, stopped, or damaged by internal icing in certain types of atmospheric conditions much more easily than previously believed. In most cases, the engines can be quickly restarted and flights are not endangered, but research continues to determine the exact conditions which produce this type of icing, and find the best methods to prevent, or reverse it, in flight.
|Amorphous ice||Amorphous 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 Ih||Normal hexagonal crystalline ice. Virtually all ice in the biosphere is ice Ih, with the exception only of a small amount of ice Ic.|
|Ice Ic||A Metastable 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 II||A 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 III||A tetragonal crystalline ice, formed by cooling water down to 250 K at 300 MPa. Least dense of the high-pressure phases. More dense than water.|
|Ice IV||A Metastable rhombohedral phase. Doesn't easily form without a nucleating agent.|
|Ice V||A monoclinic crystalline phase. Formed by cooling water to 253 K at 500 MPa. Most complicated structure of all the phases.|
|Ice VI||A tetragonal crystalline phase. Formed by cooling water to 270 K at 1.1 GPa. Exhibits Debye relaxation.|
|Ice VII||A cubic phase. The hydrogen atoms positions are disordered; the material shows Debye relaxation. The hydrogen bonds form two interpenetrating lattices.|
|Ice VIII||A more ordered version of ice VII, where the hydrogen atoms assume fixed positions. Formed from ice VII, by cooling it below 5 °C.|
|Ice IX||A 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 X||Proton-ordered symmetric ice. Forms at about 70 GPa.|
|Ice XI||An orthorhombic low-temperature equilibrium form of hexagonal ice. It is ferroelectric.|
|Ice XII||A 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.|
|Ice XIII||A monoclinic crystalline phase. Formed by cooling water to below 130 K at 500 MPa. The proton-ordered form of ice V.|
|Ice XIV||An orthorhombic crystalline phase. Formed below 118 K at 1.2 GPa. The proton-ordered form of ice XII.|
|Ice XV||The predicted, but not yet proven, proton-ordered form of ice VI. Thought to be formed by cooling water to around 108-80 K at 1.1 GPa.|