How to Speak Polar: Cool Terms from a Polar Expedition

October 23, 2015

When you embark on your guided expedition with Quark Expeditions, you’ll learn the Polar Regions have a lingo all their own! To help you prepare for your adventure have you speaking like a seasoned explorer, here some terms best categorized as ‘Polar Speak’:

 jan14_leithcovesunset

Ice, Icescapes and Icebreakers

Anchor Ice: submerged ice attached to the sea bed.

Brash Ice: floating ice accumulations of fragments of 2 meters (6.5 ft) across or smaller. 

Calving: a block of ice breaking away from a glacier. 

Crack: a fracture in floating sea ice narrow enough to jump across. 

Crevasse: a crack or fissure in a glacier.

Fast Ice: sea ice attached to land. 

Floe: a piece of floating sea ice. 

Frazil: fine bits of ice suspended in water.

Ice-Shelf: a floating sheet of ice, usually of considerable thickness, attached to the coastline. 

Pack Ice: large pieces of floating ice driven together in a floating mass. 

Slack Pack: a large amount of ice, less dense than pack ice. 

Tabular Berg: an iceberg with a flat top parallel with the waterline.

Tabular iceberg - Photo credit: passenger: lijishan
Tabular iceberg - Photo credit: passenger: lijishan

All Hands on Deck: Nautical Terms

Ice Strengthened: a vessel suited to polar travel, and can include a double or flat hull, or a hull clear of fixtures such as stabilizers; specialized engines; a protected rudder and propeller. Is constructed of thicker steel; has an ice belt, an area of the hull with a thicker layer of steel and additional interior structure.  

Ice Breaker: different from an ice strengthened vessel, with three traits that most ships don't possess - an ice strengthened steel hull; an ice clearing shape; and lots of power to push it through the sea.

Kayak: a watercraft believed to be more than 4,000, and a great way to see wildlife up close.

Zodiac: an inflatable, motorized vessel used for accessing hard to reach places. 

Penguinologist: a person who specializes in all things related to penguins.

Aurora Borealis in East Greenland - Photo Credit: C. King
Aurora Borealis in East Greenland - Photo Credit: C. King

Locations and Landscapes 

Aurora Borealis: commonly known as the Northern Lights, caused by electrically charged particles from the sun entering earth’s atmosphere.

 ATV: short for All Terrain Vehicle, an all-purpose motorized vehicle for covering a lot of ground in a short span of time.

Fjords: formed when a glaciers cut a long narrow inlet; a familiar sight in the Arctic.   

Nunatak: a mountain peak or rock spur that sticks out of a glacier or ice sheet. 

Northeast Passage: connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic following the coasts of Russia and Norway. 

Northwest Passage: the legendary passage through Canada’s Arctic Archipelago along the northern coast of North America. 

Trypots: cauldrons used by sealers and whalers in the process of oil extraction. 

Archipelago: a sea or stretch of water containing many islands, such as the Palmer Archipelago. 

Aurora Australis: the southern counterpart of the famous Northern Lights.

Protocol on Environmental Protection: known as the Madrid Protocol, it designates the Antarctic as a natural reserve. 

Sledging: an over snow vehicle on runners pulled by dogs or men; the way the original explorers traveled.

Want to know more about all things polar? Contact the polar experts today to learn more!

Previous Article
Top Polar Grave Sites: Visit Mysterious Thule Graves, Franklin’s Crew & More
Top Polar Grave Sites: Visit Mysterious Thule Graves, Franklin’s Crew & More

 The story of polar exploration involves many nations and peoples, some of whom remain buried in the Arctic...

Next Article
Charles Darwin Research Station
Charles Darwin Research Station

Eminent naturalist Charles Darwin was one of the first prominent visitors to the Galapagos Islands, and his...

Plan your polar adventure

Get the Guide