Frozen Oceans

The floating world of pack ice

David N. Thomas

This is the first book to offer the general reader access to a remote frozen habitat that has for so long fascinated explorers, writers and scientists.

978 0 565 09188 0
October 2004
242 x 195 mm
224 pp
Colour throughout
Natural History Museum


During the harsh polar winter the surface of the ocean freezes up, forming a temporary ice layer called pack ice, or sea ice. This gives rise to a spectacular floating world that for a number of months each year becomes home to a wealth of plant and animal life. 

Wonderful colour photographs of life on, in and under the ice help draw the reader into this superb account of an extreme environment.

Author David Thomas is a veteran of six expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, and this book is packed with photographs taken in the course of his journeys. His lively and readable text conveys his excitement at the dangers and possibilities of life on the ice. He provides an in-depth background to the whole ecosystem of sea ice, its living communities and the structure of the ice itself. 

The level of accurate scientific detail in this book will satisfy anyone looking for a reliable, up-to-date overview of this topic.

See inside

Look inside this book to get an idea of its content.

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans

Pages from Frozen Oceans


David Thomas is a marine scientist at the University of Wales, Bangor, and has worked in polar regions since 1991. 

He has conducted several expeditions to the Antarctic and the Arctic and carried out research into the pack ice of the Baltic Sea. 

He has written popular science features about sea ice for Science, BBC Wildlife Magazine and New Scientist. He is also the author of Seaweeds and Surviving Antarctica, both published by the Museum.


Find out what others think of this book.

"I would recommend the book for readers who are interested in the field of sea ice, from laymen and students to scientists working in polar research."

Sebastian Gerland - Polar Research

"I remember vividly the feeling of wonder I felt when I was first introduced to one of the world's largest ecosystems, the floating layer of sea ice that periodically surround the continent of Antarctica…These feelings of wonder came flooding back to me as I read this most recent contribution to the sea ice literature. This excellent book is appropriate for a scientifically savvy audience interested in learning about sea ice but with little or no prior knowledge."

Kevin Arrigo - Antarctic Science

"In this beautifully illustrated book, David Thomas introduces us to the mysterious and inaccessible world of the pack ice. The book provides a pleasant romp through the physics, chemistry and biology of pack ice without an equation or quantitative table in sight. Though largely qualitative, the book is scientific in its approach. Thomas has made the intricate and remote world of the pack ice accessible to us through this enjoyable book."

Michael Whitfield - Times Higher Education Supplement

"There has never been a good, accessible book about sea ice. Based on many years of personal experience and academic research, Thomas has written a book that fills this gap. Thomas's virtuoso description of this habitat is supported by a vast number of lavish colour illustrations. Even though tourists and film crews seem constantly to visit both the Arctic and Antarctic, few people get anywhere near the sea ice. David Thomas has written an excellent and timely book that opens up this relatively unknown but significant environment. "

Mark Brandon - BBC Wildlife Magazine

"This will prove useful background reading for graduate students and scientists moving into polar marine science. It could also be valuable to tourists visiting the polar oceans. The descriptions of the biological communities living under the pack ice are very good and I learnt something new about the volatile gases, including bromoform and methyl bromide that are released from algae at the lower surfaces of sea ice. The book is clear and well written, and I particularly liked the descriptions of porridge, pancake and grease ice."

Lloyd Peck - Nature

"Frozen Oceans by scientist David N Thomas is a glossy, well-produced book with nearly 200 color figures and photos, an introduction to polar and sub-polar pack ice regions of the northern and southern hemispheres ...There is much in here for anyone interested in some aspect of frozen oceans, and no matter how qualified the reader, it will definitely be a learning experience. Frozen Oceans will be an important popular reference for anyone remotely interested in polar oceanography."

Harold Welch - Oceanography

"Frozen Oceans: The Floating World of Pack Ice is the first book for the general reader to reveal the secrets of pack ice, the floating layer of frozen seawater which at its greatest extent covers 13% of the surface of the globe each year. The book explores the fascinating structure of the ice, its formation and development. It introduces the wealth of life forms from viruses to whales and humans. Pack ice is not recognised as a central part of the rich biodiversity of the polar regions and the oceans' food chain. The role of humans on the ice, hunting, exploring and doing scientific research, is of key importance to the survival of this habitat and the book offers a window onto the vital work being done by polar scientists."

Marine Times

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