The European Perspective
Skating on natural ice is much more organized in Europe than it is in North America. There is a long tradition of large scale public skating events. Sweden and Holland in particular have a combination of lots of frozen lakes and ocean areas and a large, outdoor oriented, population. This has generated the critical mass needed to develop a good scientific understanding of risks and practices that are effective for reducing these risks.
There has been quite a bit written on ice assessment, behavior and science. We have much to learn from the broader European experience. Most of this is in Swedish or Dutch with only a little in English.
We are working on translating some of this work. It will be a big project. If you have language skill in Swedish or Dutch in particular and would like to help please contact us. (email@example.com). 'Google Translate' will help but it still needs to be rewritten into a readable form.
Links: The following are links courtesy of Dave Dermott and Sven Andersson.
Dave has compiled a large set of articles and links on ice skating and kick sledding.
The Ice Handbook for Engineers: A good and practical overview of ice science written by Lennart Fransson. It covers sea ice as well as lake ice.
Sven Andersson's blog has a nice overview with lots of links.
The Think Ice website has several excellent articles on ice behavior. http://www.thinkice.com/
In particular, Johan Porsby's comprehensive page Situationsanpassad isvbedoming ('situational ice judgment') covers all reasonable forms of skateable ice (and a few that are not so reasonable). http://www.thinkice.com/glaciology/sv/situationis/situationis.htm
A couple other Swedish ice safety links:
From Johan Porsby December 12th, 2011: a two minute, skate level, video of a tour, just a subway ride from Stockholm on great ice and a blue bird day.