Why Doesn’t the Ocean Freeze?

Have you ever wondered why the ocean does not freeze during the low temperature? The ocean remains in a liquid state even when the temperature is too low. For example, if you visit a beach on a snowy day, you would see the ocean in the liquid state despite the surroundings of the beach being covered with snow and ice. Why doesn’t the ocean freeze? To know more about this phenomenon, you need to understand the factors that are responsible for not allowing the ocean to freeze. You can conduct science experiments for kids in order to make them understand the phenomenon in much more detail. 

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We have seen many lakes and rivers freeze during extreme low temperatures. But, have you ever seen the ocean freezing? Why doesn’t the ocean freeze? It is because of the presence of high amounts of salt in the ocean, which does not allow the water to freeze compared to rivers and lakes that have salt in less quantity which freezes the water when the temperature drops below 0 degrees celsius. Learning the concept of why the ocean doesn’t freeze can be one of the science project ideas for kids. 

What are the factors that prevent the ocean from freezing?

Unlike freshwater, ocean water does not freeze. The factors that enable the ocean to keep itself in a liquid state even during the low temperature are mentioned below:

  • Salt: The ocean has high salinity due to the presence of salt in the water. The salt enables water to lower down its freezing point. The presence of salt in water prevents water molecules from bonding and forming ice crystals. This is the reason why salt is used on the roads covered with snow in order to reduce the freezing point so that people can travel safely. 
  • Earth’s internal heat: The Earth is hotter inside compared to the surface. The internal heat of the Earth escapes into the oceans, which prevents the water from freezing. The temperature of the water inside the ocean remains hot. 
  • Ocean currents: Due to the gravitational pull of the Moon and thermal convection, ocean currents in the sea are created. The ocean currents move around constantly, which helps the ocean water to retain its heat and do not allow it to freeze. The constant movement of water prevents the ocean water from freezing.
  • High volume of water: Due to the large volume of water in the ocean, there is more heat than expected. The high volume of water prevents the ocean from freezing. For example, if you keep a tablespoon of water and a bowl of water in the freezer. Which one would freeze first? It is obvious that a tablespoon of water will freeze faster than the water kept in a bowl. This is due to the fact that heat in the ocean must be lost in order to freeze, which is highly impossible in the ocean water. 

Fun Facts about the Ocean

Some of the interesting facts about the ocean are mentioned below:

  • The gravitational pull of the Moon is responsible for tides in the ocean.
  • Around 94 percent of the wildlife is found in the ocean.
  • Around 90 percent of the volcanic activity happens in the ocean.
  • The largest blue whale is found in the ocean.
  • Around 14 percent of the proteins come from the ocean.
  • Around 70 percent of the surface of the Earth is covered by the ocean.
  • Most historical artifacts are found in the ocean rather than in the museum.
  • Around 70 percent of the oxygen is produced from the ocean.
  • The largest ocean in the world is the Pacific ocean.
  • The bottom of the ocean is very hot. 
  • It is said that sea ice is drinkable.
  • There are more than three million shipwrecks in the ocean.
  • The Sun is responsible for giving a blue tint to the ocean.
  • There are lakes and rivers beneath the ocean. 
  • The largest waterfall is found in the Atlantic ocean. 
  • Millions of treasures may be found in the deep ocean.
  • The largest waves occur under the ocean. 
  • The ocean is home to the largest single structure living creature that is the Great Barrier Reef. 
  • The oceans are deep, dark and move slowly. 
  • The largest mountain range is actually found in the ocean. 
  • Half of the United States of America is underwater. 
  • The dolphins in the ocean have x-ray vision.
  • Sea sponges found in the oceans are older than dinosaurs.

Easy Science Project: Why Doesn’t the Ocean Freeze?

To help children understand why the ocean doesn’t freeze, you can conduct an experiment using the materials available at home. We know the fact that when the temperature decreases and reaches its freezing point, it tends to freeze. In the case of the ocean water, it does not freeze due to different factors such as salt, high volume, ocean currents, etc., that prevent it from freezing. Children must be wondering why lakes and rivers freeze during extreme low temperatures and why not the oceans. In such cases, it is important to show them the phenomenon at home. You can try the following activity to see how freshwater freezes compared to the ocean water given below.

Why Doesn’t the Ocean Freeze?

Aim of the Project 

To experiment and observe why the water consisting of salt does not freeze compared to the freshwater, using the materials at home. 

Materials Required 

  • Two cups 
  • Water
  • A tablespoon of salt
  • A paper and a marker
  • Thermometer
  • Refrigerator

Procedure

  • Take two bowls and label them as A and B using a marker.
  • Take an empty bowl labeled as A and pour 3 cups of water with a tablespoon of salt into it. 
  • Mix the water and the salt until it gets completely dissolved.
  • Take another bowl labeled as B and pour one cup of water. 
  • Record the temperature of both the bowls.
  • Keep both the bowls of water inside the freezer for 24 hours. 
  • Record and observe the changes that you might see in both bowls after 24 hours. 

Result 

It was observed that bowl A consisting of a tablespoon of salt and water did not freeze compared to the bowl containing only the water. The presence of salt and the high volume of water prevents it from freezing. And, the water consisting of no salt and less volume of water freezes under the lower temperature. The salt in the ocean water reduces the freezing point. It is said that the higher the amount of salt in water, the lower its freezing point. Therefore, the ocean does not freeze compared to other water bodies such as lakes, ponds, rivers, etc. What would happen if the ocean freezes? This would block the light in the surface of the water and kill marine life affecting the food chain. 

Benefits of Learning about the Ocean

Some of the benefits of learning about the ocean are mentioned below:

  • Helps in understanding the concept of why the ocean doesn’t freeze.
  • Develops knowledge about the most important natural resources of the Earth.
  • Provides opportunities for kids to perform experiments in order to check why the ocean doesn’t freeze compared to other water bodies such as lakes, ponds or rivers under low temperatures. 
  • Provides knowledge about the ocean that increases the economy through the transport of goods and services, balances the atmospheric temperature, provides seafood and medicinal products used for curing harmful diseases to children.
  • Enables children to understand the importance of the ocean for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking, etc. 
  • Helps children in learning how the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles in order to regulate the weather patterns. Also, understanding how the ocean helps in predicting the weather forecast. 
  • Enables children to learn about marine life found in the ocean. 

To know more information, explore science games for kids, STEM activities for kids in the kids learning section at Osmo.

Frequently Asked Questions on Why Doesn’t the Ocean Freeze?

What doesn’t the ocean freeze?

The ocean does not freeze under extreme low temperatures due to the presence of salt, high volume, Earth’s internal heat and ocean currents. Unlike rivers and lakes that freeze when the temperature drops to 0 degree celsius, the factors mentioned above prevent the ocean from freezing.

What are the benefits of learning about why the ocean freezes?

The benefits of learning about why the ocean freezes are that it helps children understand the phenomenon of why the ocean does not freeze compared to other water bodies. It enables children to perform the experiment and develop observation skills. Most importantly, it provides scientific knowledge on various factors that prevent the ocean from freezing.

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