Sea ice characteristics were investigated during July and August on the 1994 transect across the Arctic Ocean. Properties examined from ice cores included salinity, temperature, and ice structure. Salinities measured near zero at the surface, increasing to 3-4??? at the ice-water interface. Ice crystal texture was dominated by columnar ice, comprising 90% of the ice sampled. Surface albedos of various ice types, measured with radiometers, showed integrated shortwave albedos of 0.1 to 0.3 for melt ponds, 0.5 for bare, discolored ice, and 0.6 to 0.8 for a deteriorated surface or snow-covered ice. Aerial photography was utilized to document the distribution of open melt ponds, which decreased from 12% coverage of the ice surface in late July at 76??N to almost none in mid-August at 88??N. Most melt ponds were shallow, and depth bore no relationship to size. Sediment was pervasive from the southern Chukchi Sea to the north pole, occurring in bands or patches. It was absent in the Eurasian Arctic, where it had been observed on earlier expeditions. Calculations of reverse trajectories of the sediment-bearing floes suggest that the southernmost sediment was entrained during ice formation in the Beaufort Sea while more northerly samples probably originated in the East Siberian Sea, some as far west as the New Siberian Islands.