||Every autumn a fundamental transition occurs in the surface waters of Polar Oceans. The surface waters of millions of square kilometres freeze to form an ice layer that varies from a few centimetres through to several metres thick, and which effectively separates the ocean from the atmosphere above. Ice made from seawater is a porous, semi-solid matrix permeated by a labyrinth of brine channels and pores, and within these a diverse microbial assemblage, including viruses, archaea, bacteria, flagellates and unicellular algae can thrive. These assemblages can reach such high abundances that the ice becomes a rich coffee colour. The microbial assemblages are in turn a rich food source for grazing proto- and zooplankton, especially in winter when food in the water column is scarce.