One Hundred Names for Sea Ice

A walrus sits on top of ice.

To people living in warm climates, all ice looks the same. But if you live day-in and day-out on sea ice, like the Inupiaq people of Alaska, you would find that there are many kinds of ice, all distinct. In fact, the Inupiaq have more than 100 names for different kinds of sea ice, illustrated here. A female walrus and her calf (isavgalik) rest on ice (nunavait) in the midst of scattered pack ice (tamalaaniqtuaq), interspersed with patches of calm flat water (quuniq). The mass of floating pack ice (sigu) consists of various types of ice, such as large floes (puktaaq), vertical blocks of ice (puikaaniq), ice floes with overhanging shelves (quaŋiłlaq), large pieces of darker ice (taagluk), and small floating pieces of dirt ice (saŋałait).