Sea ice, frozen saltwater, is a key component of the global system. Every year it expands to 14–16 million km2 in the Arctic (some 20 million km2 in the Southern Ocean) and then shrinks to a fraction of its peak extent. Historically, the sea ice is a domain of physical and natural scientists, students of ice geophysics, ocean and atmospheric circulation, climate models, marine ecosystems, also of navigators and engineers. In the areas where polar residents regularly use the ice as a platform for transportation, hunting, or communal activities, they also create a particular cultural 'scape.' It bears all of the features typical of land-based cultural environments – age-old place names, stories, established trails, navigation marks, physical modifications, and traces of human presence. Unlike culturally modified landscapes, every cultural 'ice-scape' built on ice disintegrates with the summer melt. It happens every year, from generation to generation, so that the persistence of sea ice as a cultural phenomenon is perpetuated by the sheer power of human knowledge and people's presence. If this knowledge ceases to be transmitted the ice once again becomes a cultural 'desert,' the ultima Thule of ancient geographers and early explorers. And when the ice-using people are gone, the frozen sea turns back into the 'wild ice.' The vision of sea ice as a cultural 'scape,' an element of indigenous knowledge, identity, lore and well-being, and hence an object of social and humanistic inquiry, is a unique legacy of many dedicated efforts undertaken during IPY 2007–2008.