CR3.4

Risks from a changing cryosphere
Co-sponsored by IACS and IPA
Convener: Matthew Westoby | Co-conveners: Christian Huggel, Michael Krautblatter

The global cryosphere with all its components is strongly impacted by climate change and has been undergoing significant changes over the past decades. Glaciers are shrinking and thinning. Snow cover and duration is reduced, and permafrost, in both Arctic and mountain 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, with ongoing climate change, we expect changes in the magnitude and frequency of hazards with profound implications for risks, especially when these interact with other aspects relating to context vulnerability, exposure, and other processes of biophysical and/or socioeconomic drivers of change. New or growing glacier lakes pose a threat to downstream communities through the potential for sudden drainage. Thawing permafrost can destabilize mountain slopes, and eventually result in large landslide or 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. Furthermore, 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 address risks associated with observed or projected physical processes. Contributions considering more than one cryosphere component (e.g. glaciers and permafrost) are particularly encouraged, as well as contributions on cascading processes and interconnected risks. Contributions can consider hazards and risks related to changes in the past, present or future. Furthermore, Contributions may consider one or several components of risks (i.e. natural hazards, exposure, vulnerability) as long as conceptual clarity is ensured. Furthermore, cases that explore diverse experiences with inter- and transdisciplinary research, that sought to address these risks with communities through adaptation and resilience building, are also be considered.