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The cryosphere and cold region processes in the global climate system
The cryosphere represents one of the Earth system compartments showing strong signs of dramatic changes due to climate forcing.
If global warming is actually the main common driver causing such changes, the rates, impacts and processes acting in the mountain and Polar regions can differ markedly.
Estimating the response of the global cryosphere to climate change as well as the response of the components of the climate system to changes in the cryosphere relies on understanding of climate-cryosphere interactions and processes in different regions and along different spatial and temporal scales.
Sea ice and ice sheets in both polar regions are sensitive to atmospheric forcing. Changes in these cryosphere components influence the climate through changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation, sea level, albedo, vegetation and several related feedbacks.
In the Arctic, sea ice concentration and volume have recently experienced a sharp declining trend, and the Greenland Ice Sheet has similarly been losing mass at an increasing pace. Atmospheric forcing has played a crucial role in driving these trends and triggering positive feedbacks within the Arctic cryosphere-ocean-atmosphere system. These changes to the cryosphere may further feed back into large-scale climate variability through atmospheric and oceanic pathways.
At the other pole, sea and land ice in the Antarctic have heretofore experienced changes that strongly depend on the geographic location (e.g., east vs. west) and, overall, are less dramatic when compared to the changes observed in the Arctic cryosphere. Atmospheric influences on sea ice retreat and ice sheet/shelf surface melt are projected to become more prominent with continued climate warming.
The seasonal snow cover, mountain glaciers, permafrost and permanent ice deposits in caves are the main parts of the mountains cryosphere.
They affect the hydrology of a vast range of river systems in the world and are vital for the water availability particularly in arid high mountain regions.
The water volume stored in mountain glaciers is small compared to the water storage in Polar Regions, but increasing rates of glacier mass loss result in a significant contribution to recent sea level rise.
The observed permafrost degradation in mountain regions has severe implications on rock stability and increases the risk of natural hazards.
Permanent ice deposits in caves are probably the lesser known as well as the smallest part of the earth’s cryosphere, but it has been shown recently that they can store important palaeoenvironmental information.
Investigating the micro-climate over snow and ice surfaces and its linkage to large-scale weather conditions and model climate is fundamental for tackling the mass and energy balance of the mountain cryosphere.
Understanding the spatial and temporal variability of snow accumulation, storage and transport of ice and ice ablation in mountains and Polar Regions, and the interaction of the snow surface with the atmosphere within the boundary layer are crucial for interpreting proxy records from various archives such as ice cores.
This session invites contributions addressing all aspects of cold regions meteorology and the cryosphere interacting with the past, present and future climate system from both modelling and observations.
We encourage submissions from multiple approaches, i.e. past records, meteorological and geophysical observations, numerical modelling and downscaling methods aiming to advance the current knowledge of the feedbacks between the cryosphere and the climate system.
Presentations of interdisciplinary studies as well as detailed process surveys are highly welcome.