Around the Block: Frozen Ocean

Getting into a floe state

Sail Minecraft’s seas long enough, and you’ll eventually come across a place where the surface is frozen solid. Where polar bears hunt their prey between icebergs. Where snow falls from the sky instead of rain. I hope you bought some warm clothes, because you’ve found the frozen ocean.

Oceans have been a part of Minecraft since almost the very beginning, but frozen oceans didn’t arrive until a bit later – in the second part of the Adventure Update in November 2011. They were removed again in The Update that Changed the World, and then re-added with upgrades in the Update Aquatic. Since then, they’ve been a vital part of Minecraft’s library of snowy biomes.

You’ll know a frozen ocean when you see one. It’s the ocean, but frozen into ice. It comes in two variants. In the shallow variant, you’ll see dark purple water at the surface, punctuated by rafts of ice as well as large icebergs made of packed and blue ice. The seabed is mostly gravel, with patches of sand and clay, and no seagrass or kelp.

The deeper variant is very similar. There are still icebergs, but no layer of ice present at sea level. It’s too deep for that. Below the surface in this biome, you might also find ocean monuments where guardians guide ancient treasure.

The hostile environment at the surface means that only polar bears and rabbits spawn here, but below the waves you’ll also find plentiful squid, salmon and cod. At night, you’ll want to beware of drowned, strays, and other hostile entities who’d love nothing more than to pull you down into the icy depths.

There are not many great reasons to set up home here. Resources are limited to water, snow, various types of ice, gravel, sand and clay. You’ll find food by fishing, and you could collect wood from shipwrecks, but it’ll generally be a pretty tough life with little to recommend it.

In the real world, we have plenty of frozen oceans. At the North Pole, you’ll find the Arctic Ocean, but you’ll also find frozen water in the winter in the Baltic Sea, Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay, the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Southern Ocean which rings the continent of Antarctica.

Climate change is warming our oceans and the polar regions much faster than elsewhere, however, which means that the amount of ice in the sea every year is shrinking – and the ice that is there is getting thinner. This is a serious problem for the people and animals that make their living on the shores of these frozen oceans.

Without reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, it won’t be long until there’s very little frozen ocean left – and then the only place you’ll be able to see it will be Minecraft. Which would be very sad. Let’s hope we can reverse climate change before it’s too late.

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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