Friday, March 16, 2007

Ice travel

Ice can also be an obstacle; for harbors near the poles, being ice-free is an significant 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 unsafe winter hazard. Black ice is very difficult to see because it lacks the predictable 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, while 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 frequently 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 take away this form of ice, so people often open their windows somewhat 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 comprehensive 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).