Risks from a changing cryosphere
|Convener: Christian Huggel | Co-Convener: Jeffrey Kargel|
All components of the cryosphere have been undergoing significant changes. Most visibly, glaciers are retreating and shrinking. Snow cover and duration is generally reduced, and permafrost is thawing. Changes in sea ice cover and characteristics have attracted widespread attention, and changes in ice sheets are monitored with care and concern.
Risks associated with one or several of these cryosphere components have been present throughout history, but the magnitude and rate of change currently observed and projected for the future have profound implications for risks. New or growing glacier lakes pose a threat to downstream communities when suddenly draining. Thawing permafrost can destabilize mountain flanks, and eventually result in destructive rock and ice avalanches. An accelerated rate of permafrost degradation in low-land areas poses infrastructure at risk and raises concerns about large-scale emission of greenhouse gases currently trapped in arctic permafrost. Decay of sea ice may both produce risks and opportunities in terms of large-scale climate feedbacks and alterations, and new access to transport routes and natural resources. Eventually, rapid flow acceleration and collapse of ice sheets is of major concern in terms of sea level change.
This session invites contributions across all cryosphere components that apply a risk perspective concerning observed or projected physical processes. Contributions considering more than one cryosphere component (e.g. glaciers and permafrost) are particularly encouraged. Contributions can consider hazards and risks related to changes in the past, present or future. Both new risks and opportunities may be of relevance, as long as a critical analysis is provided.