Science Ideas and Concepts

Scientific study requires a basic knowledge and understanding of ideas and concepts. This collection explains the ideas that are fundamental to Icy Ecosystems.

  • Antarctic marine ecosystem – Information Sheet

    The waters around Antarctica are high in nutrients. The major producers are phytoplankton. Consumers include zooplankton, fish, squid, octopus, seals and whales.

  • Antarctic terrestrial ecosystem – Information Sheet

    The Antarctic terrestrial ecosystem is a large cold desert, but it is far from being lifeless. Producers include lichen, algae, mosses and flowering plants. Consumers include invertebrates and birds.

  • Continental drift – Information Sheet

    Continental drift is the concept that the Earth’s continents move relative to each other, with the Earth’s surface being broken into plates. Read about the theory and evidence that supports this concept.

  • Ecosystems – Information Sheet

    An ecosystem is made up of animals, plants and bacteria as well as the physical and chemical environment they live in. Human processes can disrupt entire ecosystems.

  • Glaciers – Information Sheet

    A glacier is a mass of ice derived from snow that has accumulated and been compacted over a long period of time. About 70 percent of the Earth’s freshwater resource is stored in glacial ice. Ice sheets (>50,000 km2) and valley glaciers are the two basic types of glacier.

  • Greenhouse effect – Information Sheet

    The greenhouse effect is the natural warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. Solar radiation enters the atmosphere mainly as light, and some of that radiation is absorbed by the Earth’s surface then changed to heat that is reradiated into the atmosphere where it is absorbed by greenhouse gases then reradiated back to Earth again.

  • Icebergs – Information Sheet

    Icebergs are thick masses of ice floating in the ocean. They calve off glaciers and ice shelves.

  • Insulation – Information Sheet

    Due to the extreme cold found in Antarctica, animals (including visiting humans!) have to stay warm. They do this through the process of insulation.

  • Plants on ice – Information Sheet

    Antarctica is an unlikely place to find plants, but they are there all right – mosses, lichens, algae and even flowering plants grow on the frozen continent.

  • Water and ice – Information Sheet

    Water is essential to life for plants and animals. What are the physical properties of water and how does it freeze?

  • Water density – Information Sheet

    Water density changes with temperature and salinity. Density is measured as mass (g) per unit of volume (cm³). Water is densest at 3.98°C and is least dense at 0°C (freezing point).