Difference Between Sea Ice and Land Ice

In the polar region of the earth, the maximum area of land and sea is covered with ice. There are two kinds of ice, i.e., sea ice and land ice. The basic difference, which at a glance we understand, is that the quality of the water.

Seawater forms from seawater which is salty water. This kind of ice forms due to the very low temperature in the sea region. Around 15% of the world’s sea area gets covered with ice during a particular time of the year. Some areas get frozen in the winter season, while some stay froze during the whole year.

Land ice cover glaciers, river ice, and lake ice also. The ices of sweet water or not-salty water can be put in the category of land ice. It is different in the way it is formed from sea ice. Land ice becomes less dense and floats on water. It covers around 10% of the earth’s surface.

Sea Ice vs Land Ice

The main difference between Sea ice and Land ice is that sea ice forms much slower in salty water while land ice forms much faster in freshwater. The seawater, as it is saline water it tends to move before it gets solidify which takes more time. The freshwater takes lesser time to freeze.

Sea Ice and Land Ice

Seawater becomes much denser when it is frozen, which makes it very strong. The melting point of seawater is much lesser, and the melting point is also much higher when compared to freshwater. All this makes sea ice much more white and is also much more reflective.

Land ice mainly denotes the ice formed from the fresh or sweet waters. Ices formed in lakes or rivers or glaciers are put in the category of Land ice. This kind of ices becomes low density when it freezes. Land ices are less whiter and are more transparent, which means that it reflects less when compared to Sea ice.

Comparison Table Between Sea Ice and Land Ice

Parameters of Comparison Sea IceLand Ice
Freezing point Seawater due to the presence of salt freezes at -2 degrees Celsius which is sea ice Freshwater freezes at 0 degrees Celsius which is Land ice
Time Sea ice takes a longer time to melt. Land ice takes lesser time to melt when compared to sea ice.
Place of formation It is formed in the sea or oceans. It is formed in freshwater like in lakes, rivers, or glaciers.
Area It is much more spread especially in polar regions. It is present in a lesser area when compared to sea ice.
Process It slowly sinks and solidifies. It freezes on the surface of the water.

What is Sea Ice?

Sea ices are formed in the oceans are much whiter when we look at them, and it also reflects most of the sun’s rays to space. It is much denser, which is also the reason that when it melts, the water level doesn’t increase noticeably. 

Around 80% of the sunlight reflects, but when it starts melting, the ocean starts absorbing the rays. These ices are mainly formed in the winter seasons and melt in the summer season, but in some areas, it stays the whole year. Thus climate changes can disbalance the whole system of ice formation and melting.

The formation and melting of the sea ice take part in different kinds of environmental activities. The role of sea ice also takes a huge place in the movement of seawater. Wildlife and peoples of different regions, especially in polar regions, are dependent on this sea ice and its cycle.

A huge cycle of this sea ice formation and melting goes on in the polar region, which mainly starts freezing in the winter season and melts in the summer season. Around 15% of the ocean in the world is covered with this ice, mainly in the polar region.

What is Land Ice?

Land ice is the ice that forms in the freshwater. This ice mainly forms in the lakes, rivers, etc. Huge glaciers in the mountains are the frozen rivers which are also counted in the category of land ice as they are made up of freshwater only. These kinds of ices are less dense and are less white as well.

This kind of ice melts much faster and even grows in volume as it melts when we compare it with sea ice. It gets less dense when it solidifies. Thus this kind of ice melts easily and also gets easily frozen. Land ice floats on the surface of the water due to its low density. 

These kinds of ice mainly occur in the winter season and melt in the summer season, with some exceptions of the glaciers and other highly. Glaciers in the polar region become icebergs when they fall off into the ocean. Land ice is more frigid and lower in density which is totally in contrast to sea ice. 

Around 10% of the earth’s land is covered with land ice, in which 99% of it is glaciers. This constant formation of glaciers and land ice is also very important. The melting of these glaciers can lead to huge floods and disasters. Thus, maintaining all the structures of the environment is important.

Main Differences Between Sea Ice and Land Ice

  1. Sea ice is found in the ocean, which is in the salty water, while Land ice is found in the freshwater.
  2. Sea ice is highly dense, while land ice is denser when we compare it to Land ice.
  3. Sea ice takes much more time to form and melt which Land ice takes lesser time in both cases.
  4. Sea ice sinks in due to its high density, while Land ice floats on the surface of the water due to its low density.
  5. Sea ice has a little lower freezing point when compared to Land ice due to the presence of salt in the seawater.
  6. Sea ice is much dense and thus reflects most of the sun rays when compared to Land ice which is much more clear and allows a minimum amount of rays through it.


The Sea ice and Land ice are both two kinds of ice. The seawater ice is what they call Sea ice, while the freshwater ice is what they call Land ice. The Polar region’s oceans in winter form this sea ice which glaciers or rivers or lakes form this Land ice.

Both of these ice plays a different and important role in the environment, just like any other natural thing. It also plays an important role in human life as well as in the life of other animals and wildlife. Thus maintaining the environment is important without destroying it.


  1. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2003PA000946
  2. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/1999PA000461
  3. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/1999JC000120
  4. https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/clim/19/7/jcli3649.1.xml
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