Side Events
Disciplinary Sessions
Inter- and Transdisciplinary Sessions

Session programme


CR – Cryospheric Sciences

Programme group chairs: Olaf Eisen, Christophe Grenier, Reinhard Drews, Heiko Goelzer, Daniel Farinotti, Harry Zekollari, Marie Dumont, Michel Tsamados

CR3 – Snow and ice: properties, processes, hazards

CR3.01 | PICO

Snow avalanches range among the most prominent natural hazards which threaten mountain communities worldwide. This session is devoted to avalanche formation, forecasting and detection, and the dynamics of dense and powder snow avalanches and their accompanying transitional regimes. The first focus is on improving our understanding of avalanche formation processes and to foster the application to avalanche forecasting. We therefore welcome contributions from novel field, laboratory and numerical studies on topics including, but not limited to, the mechanical properties of snow, snow cover simulations, snow instability assessment, meteorological driving factors including drifting and blowing snow, spatial variability, avalanche release mechanics, remote avalanche detection and avalanche forecasting. The second focus is the interaction of snow avalanches with, and impact on, vulnerable elements, such as buildings, protection dams, forests, and roads. We welcome novel contributions from field, laboratory and numerical studies on topics including, but not limited to, avalanche dynamics and related processes, physical vulnerability of structures impacted by snow avalanches, avalanche hazard zoning and avalanche mitigation strategies. Furthermore, we solicit novel contributions from the field of granular flows, viscoplastic flows, density currents, turbulent flows, as well as contributions from other gravity flows communities, which can improve our understanding and modeling of snow avalanche propagation and their interaction with natural or man-made structures.

Convener: Alec van Herwijnen | Co-conveners: Bernardino Chiaia, Thierry Faug, Jan-Thomas Fischer, Florence Naaim-Bouvet
| Tue, 09 Apr, 16:15–18:00
PICO spot 1
CR3.03 | PICO

Understanding the evolution of firn is important for several reasons. Firstly, knowing the depth and the age of firn at pore close-off, and how these change through time, is essential for accurate interpretations of climate records from ice cores. Second, converting spaceborne measurements of volume change into mass change requires estimates of firn thickness and density changes through time. Finally, recent work has demonstrated the importance of meltwater retention in firn in buffering the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets’ contribution to sea level. Although the spatial and temporal scales of these problems vary, they are united by a common need to understand the underlying physics of firn and its evolution.

We invite contributions on the subject of firn and firn evolution on all temporal and spatial scales. These may include: advances in measurements or observations of firn and firn processes at the microscale (e.g. microstructural studies) or macroscale (e.g. compaction measurements) and all types of firn modelling. We are particularly interested in assessments of uncertainty based on firn modelling and observations and work demonstrating important directions for future firn research.

| Tue, 09 Apr, 08:30–10:15
PICO spot 4
CR3.04 | PICO

Snow cover characteristics (e.g. spatial distribution, surface and internal physical properties) are continuously evolving over a wide range of scales due to meteorological conditions, such as precipitation, wind and radiation.
Most processes occurring in the snow cover depend on the vertical and horizontal distribution of its physical properties, which are primarily controlled by the microstructure of snow (e.g. density, specific surface area). In turn, snow metamorphism changes the microstructure, leading to feedback loops that affect the snow cover on coarser scales. This can have far-reaching implications for a wide range of applications, including snow hydrology, weather forecasting, climate modelling, and avalanche hazard forecasting or remote sensing of snow. The characterization of snow thus demands synergetic investigations of the hierarchy of processes across the scales ranging from explicit microstructure-based studies to sub-grid parameterizations for unresolved processes in large-scale phenomena (e.g. albedo, drifting snow).

This session is therefore devoted to modelling and measuring snow processes across scales. The aim is to gather researchers from various disciplines to share their expertise on snow processes in seasonal and perennial snowpacks. We invite contributions ranging from “small” scales, as encountered in microstructure studies, over “intermediate” scales typically relevant for 1D snowpack models, up to “coarse” scales, that typically emerge for spatially distributed modelling over mountainous or polar snow- and ice-covered terrain. Specifically, we welcome contributions reporting results from field, laboratory and numerical studies of the physical and chemical evolution of snowpacks, statistical or dynamic downscaling methods of atmospheric driving data, assimilation of in-situ and remotely sensed observations, representation of sub-grid processes in coarse-scale models, and evaluation of model performance and associated uncertainties.

This session is linked closely to the session HS2.1.2/CR3.11. While the focus of our session is on monitoring and modelling snow processes across scales, session HS2.1.2/CR3.11 addresses monitoring and modelling of snow for hydrologic applications.

Co-organized as AS4.6/CL2.15/HS2.1.3
| Mon, 08 Apr, 14:00–18:00
PICO spot 4
CR3.05 Media

All components of the cryosphere are strongly impacted by climate change and have been undergoing significant changes over the past decades. Most visibly, glaciers are shrinking and thinning. Snow cover and duration is reduced, and permafrost, in both Arctic and alpine environments, 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. However, as well documented atmospheric warming continues, we expect changes in the magnitude and frequency of hazards with profound implications for risks. New or growing glacier lakes pose a threat to downstream communities through the potential for sudden drainage. 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 risk to existing and planned infrastructure and raises concerns about large-scale emission of greenhouse gases currently trapped in Arctic permafrost. Decreased summertime sea ice extent may produce both risks and opportunities in terms of large-scale climate feedbacks and alterations, coastal vulnerability, and new access to transport routes and natural resources. Eventually, rapid acceleration of outlet glacier ice discharge and collapse of ice sheets is of major concern for sea level change.
This session invites contributions across all cryosphere components that addresses risks associated with 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. Discussion of both new risks and opportunities are encouraged, as long as an evidence based, critical analysis is provided.

Co-sponsored by IACS and IPA
| Tue, 09 Apr, 14:00–15:45
Room 1.85
| Attendance Mon, 08 Apr, 08:30–10:15
Hall X4

Clouds play an important role in the polar climate due to their interaction with atmospheric radiation and their role in the hydrological cycle linking poleward water vapour transport with precipitation, thereby affecting the mass balance of the polar ice sheets. Cloud-radiative feedbacks have also an important influence on sea ice. Cloud and precipitation properties depend strongly on the atmospheric dynamics and moisture sources and transport, as well as on aerosol particles, which can act as cloud condensation and ice nuclei.

This session aims at bringing together researchers using observational (in-situ, aircraft, ground-based, and satellite-based remote sensing) and/or modeling approaches (at various scales) to improve our understanding of polar tropospheric clouds, precipitation, and related mechanisms and impacts. Contributions are invited on various relevant processes including (but not limited to):
- Drivers of cloud/precipitation microphysics at high latitudes,
- Sources of cloud nuclei both at local and long range,
- Linkages of polar clouds/precipitation to the moisture sources and transport,
- Relationship of the poleward moisture transport to processes in the tropics and extra-tropics, including extreme transport events (e.g., atmospheric rivers, moisture intrusions),
- Relationship of moisture/cloud/precipitation processes to the atmospheric dynamics, ranging from synoptic and meso-scale processes to teleconnections and climate indices,
- Role of the surface-atmosphere interaction in terms of mass, energy, and cloud nuclei particles (evaporation, precipitation, albedo changes, cloud nuclei sources, etc)
- Effects that the clouds/precipitation in the Polar Regions have on the polar and global climate system, surface mass and energy balance, sea ice and ecosystems.

Papers including new methodologies specific to polar regions are encouraged, such as (i) improving polar cloud/precipitation parameterizations in atmospheric models, moisture transport events detection and attribution methods specifically in the high latitudes, and (ii) advancing observations of polar clouds and precipitation. We would like to emphasize collaborative observational and modeling activities, such as the Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP), Polar-CORDEX, the (AC)³ project on Arctic Amplification, SOCRATES and other campaigns over the Southern Ocean/Antarctica, and encourage related contributions.

The session is endorsed by the SCAR Antarctic Clouds and Aerosols Action Group.

Young scientist/student presentations are especially encouraged and we will reserve several oral units for such papers in this session.

Co-organized as CR3.06/HS11.16
| Fri, 12 Apr, 08:30–12:30
Room 0.31
| Attendance Fri, 12 Apr, 14:00–15:45
Hall X5

The atmospheric water cycle is a key component of the climate system,
and links across many scientific disciplines. Processes and dynamics at
different scales interact throughout the atmospheric life cycle of
water vapour from evaporation to precipitation. This session sets the
focus on processes, dynamics and characteristics at the evaporation
sources, during moisture transport, and at the precipitation sinks as
observed from in-situ and remote sensing, recorded by (paleo)climate
archives, and as simulated for past, present and future climates.

We invite studies

* focusing on extensive transient features of the atmospheric water
cycle, such as Atmospheric Rivers, Cold-Air Outbreaks, warm conveyor
belts, tropical moisture exports, precipitation extremes, and the
monsoon systems.

* investigating the large-scale drivers of the water cycle features’
variability and change by looking at observations, reanalyses or
global/regional climate simulations, in order to improve their

* involving and connecting results from field campaigns (YOPP, MOZAIC,
NAWDEX), reanalysis data, indicators of past hydroclimate from climate
proxies such as ice cores and stalagmites, and model predictions of the
future evolution of the atmospheric water cycle,

* applying methods such as stable isotopes as physical tracers in the
water cycle, tagged water tracers, and Lagrangian moisture source
diagnostics to identify source-sink relationships and to evaluate model
simulations of the water cycle,

* describing the global and regional state of the atmospheric cycle
with characteristics such as the recycling ratio, life time of water
vapour, and moisture transport distance

We particularly encourage contributions to link across neighbouring
disciplines, such as atmospheric science, climate, paleoclimate,
cryosphere, and hydrology.

Co-organized as CL2.19/CR3.07/HS11.24
| Wed, 10 Apr, 16:15–18:00
Room 0.11
| Attendance Wed, 10 Apr, 14:00–15:45
Hall X5

Atmosphere and Cryosphere are closely linked and need to be investigated as an interdisciplinary subject. Most of the cryospheric areas have undergone severe changes in last decades while such areas have been more fragile and less adaptable to global climate changes. This AS-CR session invites model- and observational-based investigations on any aspects of linkages between atmospheric processes and snow and ice on local, regional and global scales. Emphasis is given on the Arctic, high latitudes and altitudes, mountains, sea ice, Antarctic regions. In particular, we encourage studies that address aerosols (such as Black Carbon, Organic Carbon, dust, volcanic ash, diatoms, bioaerosols, bacteria, etc.) and changes in the cryosphere, e.g., effects on snow/ice melt and albedo. The session also focus on dust transport, aeolian deposition, and volcanic dust, including health, environmental or climate impacts at high latitudes, high altitudes and cold Polar Regions. We emphasize contributions on biological and ecological sciences including dust-organisms interactions, cryoconites, bio-albedo, eco-physiological, biogeochemical and genomic studies. Related topics are light absorbing impurities, cold deserts, dust storms, long-range transport, glaciers darkening, polar ecology, and more. The scientific understanding of the AS-CR interaction needs to be addressed better and linked to the global climate predictions scenarios.

Co-organized as BG1.12/CL2.17/CR3.08
| Fri, 12 Apr, 16:15–18:00
Room 0.31
| Attendance Fri, 12 Apr, 10:45–12:30
Hall X5
AS1.16 | PICO

The polar climate system is strongly affected by interactions between the atmosphere and the cryosphere. Feedback mechanisms between snow, land ice, sea ice and the atmosphere, such as blowing snow, ice melt, polynya formation, and sea ice production play an important role. Atmosphere-ice interactions are also triggered by synoptic weather phenomena such as cold air outbreaks, katabatic winds, polar lows, atmospheric rivers, Foehn winds and heatwaves. However, our understanding of these processes is still incomplete, and to fully capture how atmosphere, land ice and sea ice are coupled on different spatial and temporal scales, remains a major challenge.
This session will provide a setting to foster discussion on the atmosphere-ice coupling in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It will offer the opportunity to review newly acquired knowledge, identify gaps, and which instruments, tools, and studies can be designed to address these open questions.
We invite contributions on all observational and modelling aspects of Arctic and Antarctic meteorology and climatology that address atmospheric interactions with the cryosphere. This may include studies of atmospheric dynamics that influence sea-ice dynamics or ice-sheet mass balance, or investigations into the variability of the atmospheric circulation such as polar jets, the circumpolar trough, storm tracks and their link to changes in the cryosphere.

Co-organized as CR3.09
Convener: Diana Francis | Co-conveners: Amélie Kirchgaessner, Till Wagner
| Thu, 11 Apr, 16:15–18:00
PICO spot 5a
AS2.3 | PICO

Changes in the Arctic and Antarctic climate systems are strongly related to processes in the boundary layer and their feedbacks with the free troposphere. An adequate understanding and quantification of these processes is necessary to improve predictions of future changes in the polar regions and their teleconnections with mid-latitude weather and climate, including meridional transport of heat, moisture and air pollutants. Processes include atmosphere-ocean-ice (AOI) interactions, such as physical and chemical snow processes (e.g. snow photochemistry), exchange of chemical constituents, sources of aerosol, polynya formation processes, sea ice production and bottom water formation, and cloud formation, which represent key processes for the atmosphere, ocean and the cryosphere. AOI interactions are also triggered by and have feedbacks with synoptic systems and mesoscale weather phenomena such as cold air outbreaks, katabatic winds and polar lows. Associated processes also include the effect of warm air advection and clouds on the surface energy budget and related boundary layer exchanges. Of increasing interest is the study of extremes such as heat waves and storms, but also extreme meridional transport events that can disturb the physical and chemical state of the high latitudes and may have a large impact on ecosystem changes. In addition, Arctic boundary-layer processes play an important role for local Arctic air pollution and for the health and ecosystem impacts thereof. In addition, understanding natural processes including AOI interactions is essential to understand of the background atmosphere to quantify the anthropogenic impacts. Shallow inversions, mostly during winter-time, lead to high air pollutant concentrations. Even though severe air pollution episodes are frequently observed in the Arctic, knowledge on urban emission sources and atmospheric chemical processing of pollution, especially under cold and dark conditions, are poorly understood.

This session is intended to provide an interdisciplinary forum to bring together researchers working in the area of boundary layer processes and high-latitude weather and climate (including snow physics, air/snow chemistry, and oceanography). Cryosphere and atmospheric chemistry processes (the focus of the IGAC/SOLAS activity “CATCH” and the IGAC/IASC activity “PACES”) are highly relevant to this session. We invite contributions e.g. in the following areas:

1. Observations and research on the energy balance, physical and chemical exchange processes, and atmosphere-ocean-ice (AOI) interactions including particle sources.
2. Results from high-elevation sites where similar processes occur over snow and ice.
3. Field programs, laboratory studies and observational studies (including remote sensing).
4. Model studies and reanalyses.
5. Advances in observing technology.
6. External controls on the boundary layer such as clouds, aerosols, radiation.
7. Teleconnections between the polar regions and mid-latitudes resulting in effects related to atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions as well as insights provided by monitoring of water vapor isotopes that shed light on air mass origins.
8. High-latitude urban air quality studies.

Co-organized as CR3.10/OS1.14
Convener: Günther Heinemann | Co-conveners: Jo Browse, Julia Schmale, Michael Tjernström, Gillian McCusker
| Thu, 11 Apr, 14:00–15:45
PICO spot 5a

By accumulating precipitation at high elevations, snow and ice completely change the hydrologic response of a watershed. Water stored in the snow pack and in glaciers thus represents an important component of the hydrological budget in many regions of the world and a sustainment to life during dry seasons. Predicted impacts of climate change in headwater catchments (including a shift from snow to rain, earlier snowmelt, and a decrease in peak snow accumulation) will affect both water resources distribution and water uses at multiple scales, with potential implications for energy and food production.
Our knowledge about snow/ice accumulation and melt patterns is highly uncertain, because of both limited availability and inherently large spatial variability of hydrological and weather data in remote areas at high elevations. This translates into limited process understanding, especially in a warming climate. The objective of this session is to integrate specialists focusing on snow accumulation and melt within the context of catchment hydrology and snow as a source for glacier ice and melt, hence streamflow. The aim is to integrate and share knowledge and experiences about experimental research, remote sensing and modelling.

Specifically, contributions addressing the following topics are welcome:
- results of experimental research on snowmelt runoff processes and their potential implementation in hydrological models;
- development of novel strategies for snowmelt runoff modelling in various (or changing) climatic and land-cover conditions
- evaluation of observed in-situ or remote-sensing snow products (e.g. snow cover, albedo, snow depth, snow water equivalent) and their application for snowmelt runoff calibration, data assimilation or operational streamflow forecasting
- observational and modelling studies that shed new light on hydrological processes in glacier-covered catchments, e.g., impacts of glacier retreat on water resources and water storage dynamic or the application of techniques for tracing water flow paths.
Studies on cryosphere-influenced mountain hydrology, such as landforms at high elevation and their relationship with streamflow, water balance of snow/ice-dominated, high mountain regions, etc.
This session is linked closely to the session CR3.04/AS4.6/CL2.15/HS2.1.3 . While the focus of our session is on the monitoring and modelling of snow for hydrologic applications, session CR3.04/AS4.6/CL2.15/HS2.1.3 addresses monitoring and modelling of snow processes across scales.

Co-organized as CR3.11
| Tue, 09 Apr, 08:30–10:15, 10:45–12:30
Room 2.95
| Attendance Tue, 09 Apr, 14:00–15:45
Hall A

Grain size or grain size distributions (GSDs) play a major role in many fields of geoscience research. Paleopiezometry is based on the relation between grains size and flow stress. Environments of depositions have typical GSDs. Time temperature and grain size have characteristic relations during static grain growth. Fracture processes are associated with the fractal dimension of the GSD they produce, etc.. In all these cases, meaningful interpretations rest on the correct acquisition and quantification of grain size data.

The aim of this short course is to discuss with participants the following questions

1) when do we need grain size analysis ? what is it good for ? what are the limitations ?
2) how do we identify grains? what are the criteria for segmentation?
3) how do we define reliable measures for grain size ?
4) what do we mean by 'mean grain size' ?
5) how much data do we need ?
6) and what about errors ?

Handouts will be available in electronic form.

Please send email if you want to participate (renee.heilbronner@unibas.ch)

Co-organized as CR3.14/EMRP1.92/GMPV7.19/TS13.1
Convener: Renée Heilbronner | Co-convener: Rüdiger Kilian
Thu, 11 Apr, 10:45–12:30
Room -2.31