||Although the seasonal ice cover of the Baltic Sea has many similarities to its oceanic counterpart in Polar Seas and Oceans, there are many unique characteristics that mainly result from the brackish waters from which the ice is formed, resulting in low bulk salinities and porosities. In addition, due to the milder climate than Polar regions, the annual maximum ice extent is highly variable, and rain and freeze-melt cycles can occur throughout winter. Up to 35% of the sea ice mass can be composed from metamorphic snow, rather than frozen seawater, and in places snow and superimposed ice can make up to 50% of the total ice thickness. There is pronounced atmospheric deposition of inorganic nutrients and heavy metals onto the ice, and in the Bothnian Bay it is estimated that 5% of the total annual flux of nitrogen and phosphorus and 20–40% of lead and cadmium may be deposited onto the ice fields from the atmosphere. It is yet unclear whether or not the ice is simply a passive store for atmospherically deposited compounds, or if they are transformed through photochemical processes or biological accumulation before released at ice and snow melt.As in Polar sea ice, the Baltic ice can harbour rich biological assemblages, both within the ice itself, and on the peripheries of the ice at the ice/water interface. Much progress has been made in recent years to study the composition of these assemblages as well as measuring biogeochemical processes within the ice related to those in underlying waters. The high dissolved organic matter loading of Baltic waters and ice result in the ice having quite different chemical characteristics than those known from Polar Oceans. The high dissolved organic material load is also responsible in large degree to shape the optical properties of Baltic Sea ice, with high absorption of solar radiation at shorter wavelengths, a prerequisite for active photochemistry of dissolved organic matter.Land-fast ice in the Baltic also greatly alters the mixing characteristics of river waters flowing into coastal waters. River plumes extend under the ice to a much greater distance, and with greater stability than in ice-free conditions. Under-ice plumes not only alter the mixing properties of the waters, but also result in changed ice growth dynamics, and ice biological assemblages, with the underside of the ice being encased, in the extreme case, with a frozen freshwater layer.There is a pronounced gradient in ice types from more saline ice in the south to freshwater ice in the north. The former is characteristically more porous and supports more ice-associated biology than the latter. Ice conditions also vary considerably in different parts of the Baltic Sea, with ice persisting for over half a year in the northernmost part of the Baltic Sea, the Bothnian Bay. In the southern Baltic Sea, ice appears only during severe winters.