Knowledge Gaps of Cryospheric Extremes

When: 25 - 27 April 2018 | Where: Helsinki (Finland) | More information
Contacts: Jari Haapala, Carolina Gabarró Prats


4th Snow Science Winter School

When: 11 - 17 February 2018 | Where: Col du Lautaret (France) | Contact: Martin Schneebeli

The 4th Snow Science Winter School (SSWS) brought together 24 students from many 13 countries. Organized by the Snow study center (CNRM/CEN - Météo France/CNRS) WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF from Davos, Switzerland, the Station Alpine Joseph Fourier (SAJF), the Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement (IGE/OSUG – CNRS / Grenoble INP / IRD / UGA), and the Finish Meteorological Institute FMI,, the snow school focused on modern snow measurement techniques and alpine snowpack detailed modelling. Traditional and modern field instruments were available for the students to get hands-on experience in the field, together with introductory lectures. Two full field days of exercise were organized close to Col du Lautaret and gave a first feeling for a self-organized expedition. The success motivated the lecturers to prepare a 5th SSWS that will take place in Finland in 2019.

For more information please see the SSWS website.

Network on Arctic Glaciology (NAG) - The Importance of Arctic Glaciers for the Arctic Marine Ecosystem

When: 22-24 January 2018 | Where: Obergurgl (Austria) | Contact: Thorben Dunse

The workshop integrated two special activities. The first, “Understanding atmosphere-glacier-ocean interactions and their implications for the pan-Arctic glacier mass budget” represents a long-term strategy of the Cryosphere Working Group and NAG. The second theme broke new ground: an IASC cross-cutting activity of the Cryosphere and Marine working groups of IASC, addressing “The importance of Arctic glaciers for the Arctic marine ecosystem”.

Interdisciplinary work requires that researchers from the involved disciplines get to know each other and learn to understand each-others scientific jargon. The IASC cross-cutting activity contributed in building a bridge between the cryosphere and biosphere community. NAG aims to elaborate this initiative in the years to come and work towards the involvement of members from other relevant disciplines, such as physical oceanography, ocean biogeochemistry, as well as terrestrial ecology.

The next workshop on the dynamics and mass balance of Arctic Glaciers and Network on Arctic Glaciology annual meeting will be held at Bardøla Hotel in Geilo, Norway, 20-24 January 2019. More information will be distributed via Cryolist and the IASC-NAG website until summer 2018.

Workshop Objectives

• Present and discuss new results on observations and modelling of the dynamics and mass budget of Arctic glaciers, including the Greenland ice sheet.

• Provide a forum for glaciologists and marine biologists to present and discuss their work and to stimulate future collaborations.

• Plan and coordinate field work with the aim of using available infrastructure and logistics in the most efficient way.


The Frozen-Ground Cartoon

When: 11 December 2017 | Where: Québec (Canada) | Contacts: Frédéric Bouchard, Michael Fritz

How does a reindeer experience climate change? Can a turkey melt? And why is research in the Arctic better than holidays on the beach? Two artists and twelve scientists provide a completely new perspective on the Arctic.

The Frozen-Ground Cartoon is a series of brand-new comics about permafrost, funded by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) with additional support from IASC (Terrestrial and Cryosphere WGs). The project has so far produced 22 pages of comics through an iterative process of exchanging ideas between two artists and thirteen scientists. The comics are available for free download through the project web page The Frozen-Ground Cartoon, in English and Swedish, and printed copies have so far been handed out to school kids and general public in Europe and North America.

Next Steps

(1) Distribute the comics as wide as possible.

(2) Work towards translations into more languages.

(3) Evaluate the effectiveness of the science communication through the comics, in collaboration with schools and pedagogic experts.

3rd Snow Science Winter School

When: February 2017 | Where: Sodankylä (Finland) | Contact: Juha Lemmetyinen

The Cryosphere Working Group organized a field-oriented training course for teaching snow cover quantification techniques at the Finnish Meteorological Institute Arctic Research Center. Contemporary fields method require significant experience and training to achieve high-quality, accurate results, necessitating a field training course. This week-long course was intended to train early career scientists to better utilize field techniques for in situ observations as well as ground-based remote sensing instrumentation, with classroom lectures to support the field activities. By learning advanced field methods in the early career stage, young scientists will help improve quality standards in the Arctic research community in the area of snow science.

Workshop Report

Network on Arctic Glaciology (NAG)

When: 23-25 January 2017 | Where: Bethel (Maine) | Contacts: Thorben Dunse, Prof. Martin Sharp

The 2017 annual workshop and open forum meeting of the IASC Network on Arctic Glaciology took place in Bethel, Maine, USA. 27 participants from 8 IASC member countries came together to discuss a broad range of topics in Arctic Glaciology. The meeting was organized by the IASC Network on Arctic Glaciology in collaboration with the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, USA.

The 2017 workshop featured three special sessions: (1) glacier-atmosphere interactions; (2) glacier-ocean interactions, including impacts on the marine ecosystem, and (3) the importance of calving (frontal ablation) for the mass budget of Arctic glaciers. In addition, presentations addressed topics such as glacier and ice cap mass balance, ice dynamics and advancements in methodology used to monitor glacier processes and glacier change.

Discussions continued outside the meeting room at joined meals, as well as on the local ski tracks and slopes. The open forum meeting provided an opportunity to discuss further activities and development of the Network on Arctic Glaciology.

The next Workshop on the dynamics and mass budget of arctic glaciers and the 2018 NAG annual meeting will be held in Obergurgl, Austria, 21 - 25 January 2018.

For more information please see the Network on Arctic Glaciology website

Abstracts and Programme

Workshop Report


The importance of Calving for the mass balance of arctic glaciers

When: 15-17 October 2016 | Where: Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Sopot (Poland)

The Centre for Polar Studies, together with the IASC Cryosphere Working Group and the IASC Network on Arctic Glaciology hosted a scientific seminar on the “Importance of Calving for the Mass Balance of Arctic Glaciers.” The workshop brought together about 25 glaciologists working on ice-mass loss at the marine termini of Arctic glaciers and ice caps. The main objective was to initiate efforts of deriving the first measure of northern hemisphere ice discharge to the ocean over the period ~2000-2015 for all glaciers and ice caps (including the periphery of Greenland, but excluding the Greenland ice sheet). Methodology and data requirements were discussed and guidelines formulated in order to derive consistent estimates for the various Arctic regions.

Workshop Report

Workshop Slides

Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) Meeting

When: 19 June 2016 | Where: Potsdam (Germany)

Announcement and Invitation for a Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) Meeting prior to ICOP 2016:

An informal Rapid Arctic Transitions due to Infrastructure and Climate (RATIC) meeting prior to the 11th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP) will take place on Sunday, 13:00 - 15:00, 19 June 2016, Telegrafenberg, A 43.14473 Potsdam, Room A43-KR.


Observing and modelling meltwater retention processes on ice sheets and glaciers  

When: 1-3 June 2016 | Where: GEUS, Copenhagen (Denmark)

Dr. Robert Fausto and Prof. Jason Box of the Glaciology and Climate department of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) hosted a “Workshop on observing and modelling meltwater retention processes in snow and firn on ice sheets and glaciers” with 50 registered participants. Discussion framed how to approach a problem confronting this community for 40 years.

1) present and discuss observations and modelling of meltwater retention processes in firn and snow, with emphasis on low temperature ‘polar snow/firn’
2) plan and coordinate meltwater retention model development
3) develop objectives and collaboration

Co-sponsor: Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland

Robert Fausto

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights

We organized sessions by observations, modeling, synthesis and thus list the first three Scientific Highlights in response to the questions: what observations are we missing? lateral continuity of ice layers, unsaturated hydrological conductivity, and irreducible water content topped a list that also included grain growth. Also on this list is having geo-statistical information of retained meltwater, i.e. spacing of conduits, lenses, and layers in horizontal and vertical. Two retention regimes on the lower accumulation area of the GrIS were highlighted: blocked percolation in the West and firn aquifer in the Southeast. The transition between these two zones is still unmonitored.

• Regarding modeling, how do we parameterize vertical transport in preferential paths? An idea is to assume perfectly efficient vertical transfer allowing water to exit one layer and reappear in entirety skipping some model layers below. Another was to redistribute the meltwater from the surface to the underlying layers by using “percolation curves”. For alpine snowpack, advances have been made in modeling wetting front instability after a fine to coarse grain horizon. The preferential pathways enhanced by ice layers are still not being modeled. Simple model including meltwater availability, depth and horizontal density of the preferential pathway and refreezing rates should give a first estimate of how important the process is.

• Regarding synthesis, we resolved it important to ranking of ‘what is important’, the outcome of which suggested that with the expected future warming, accurate treatment of meltwater retention in the upper accumulation area will be fundamental. Actionable ideas how to expand much more realistically on the seminal work of Pfeffer et al. (1991) include: repeat it with modern data and methods (topography, hypsometry, firn, depth, 2 models easy runoff model 2 obstacles to runoff model). Regarding heterogeneous percolation of meltwater, it was agreed that no quantification of its extend neither of its importance for SMB processes was available. Simple model experiments (water availability vs. percolation rate vs. refreezing rate) were suggested to get an idea of the relevance heterogeneous percolation modelling in polar firn.

• The group discussed: To what accuracy do we need to know retention? We can design simple questions to address the question. Several participants agreed that Greenland ice sheet SMB calculation did not need to include microscopic modeling of percolation blocking or heterogeneities and that only the overall effect should be accounted for.

• To address the discussed question:”what constitutes a useful validation data set?”, we developed a list of Key observables and methods to accomplish the observation.

•  Accurate surface observations are needed to get the atmospheric forcing parameters and computed melt correct. Multi-year cores and temperature records that cover as much of the percolation area (~15-20m) as possible are very useful.

2nd Snow Science Winter School

When: 14–20 February 2016 I Where: Preda and Davos (Switzerland)

The 2nd Snow Science Winter School (SSWS) took place in Preda and Davos, Switzerland, from 14. - 20. February 2016 and brought together 26 students from 11 countries. Organized by the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF and the Finish Meteorological Institute FMI, the snow school focused on modern snow measurement techniques. Traditional and modern field instruments, as measurement of specific surface area by reflection and spectroscopy, near-infrared photography and high-resolution penetrometer, were available for the students to get hands-on experience at different field site, including a high-alpine site with a snow-shoe hike. Introductory lectures and laboratory measurements complemented the experiences. The success motivated the lecturers to prepare a 3rd SSWS that will take place in Finland in 2017.

Martin Schneebeli

Workshop Report

Dynamics and Mass Budget of Arctic Glaciers

When: 25-27 January 2016 | Where: Benasque (Spain)

From 25 to 27 January 2016 the workshop on the Dynamics and Mass Budget of Arctic Glaciers including the IASC Network on Arctic Glaciology annual meeting took place in Benasque, Spain. This workshop builds on very successful meetings held in previous years in e.g. Obergurgl (Austria), Ottawa (Canada), and Zieleniec, (Poland). It provided an excellent opportunity for participants in international Arctic projects, including the Network Tidewater Glacier initiative, to discuss the results emerging from these projects and to plan future initiatives. There was a special session on glacier-ocean interactions. The workshop also hosted the annual open forum meeting of the national contacts of the NAG where Dr. Thorben Dunse was elected new Chair of the NAG, following the end of Dr. Carleen Tijm-Reijmer’s term.


C.H. Tijm-Reijmer,

Workshop Report

Scientific Highlights



Workshop at the 6th International Conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology

When: 6 – 9 September 2015 I Where: České Budějovice (Czech Republic)

This meeting was the continuation of the highly successful meetings previously held in Rovaniemi 2004 (Finland), Innsbruck 2006 (Austria), Banff 2008 (Canada), Ljubljana 2011 (Slovenia) and Big Sky 2013 (USA). The conference brought together the scientific community for discourse on the latest in all aspects of cold-living microorganisms and their role in polar and alpine environments. The conference in České Budějovice (Czech Republic) provided an opportunity to share ideas and build research collaborations addressing the latest developments in microbiology in polar and alpine habitats.
The conference was divided into 8 sessions:
•    Polar/alpine microbiology and environmental change: past, present and future
•    Microbial diversity and evolution  
•    Cold physiology and cryobiology
•    Supraglacial, glacial and subglacial microbiology
•    Polar/alpine cyanobacteria
•    Polar/alpine eukaryotic microorganisms
•    Biotechnology in low temperatures
•    Astrobiology of icy worlds

Workshop Report

Tidewater Glacier Initiative

The CWG will continue the previously initiated study on tidewater glaciers to examine the difficulty of obtaining regional scale estimates of glacier mass balance for areas outside the ice sheets, especially during periods when there are gaps in satellite records or when available sensors change.

Ice Sheet Mass Balance and Sea Level (ISMASS)


The goals of ISMASS are to promote the research on the estimation of the mass balance of ice sheets and its contribution to sea level, to facilitate the coordination among the different international efforts focused on this field of research, to propose directions for future research in this area, to integrate the observations and modelling efforts, as well as the distribution and archiving of the corresponding data, to attract a new generation of scientists into this field of research, and to contribute to the diffusion, to society and policy makers, of the current scientific knowledge and the main achievements in this field of science.

Along these purposes, multiple workshops were hosted/co-hosted during 2014 and also in 2015:

• Workshop on ice-sheet future projections
(Auckland, 26 August 2014)

• Workshop on constraining uncertainty in Greenland surface mass balance models
(19-20 May, 2015 at the University of Sheffield, UK)

• Workshop on glacio-isotatic rebound modelling
(26-29 May, 2015, University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, USA)

• The marine ice sheet model intercomparison project meeting
(16 August, 2015, Churchill College, UK)


 • Follow-up workshop of ice-sheet projections (Auckland), as part of the AGU Chapman Conference through the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE).

Francisco Navarro


Scientific Highlights

• It was decided that a new marine ice sheet model inter comparison project was needed to assess the impacts of dynamical ice sheet responses to ground line retreat. MISMIP (Marine Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project) was launched to test ice sheet models on how to cope with grounding line retreat due to basal melting under the shelf and loss of buttressing.

• There is still very significant disagreement in the amounts of snowfall and meltwater runoff simulated by the different SMB models, and so we aim to reconcile model differences through a more thorough and detailed comparison of output from the different models than has previously been undertaken. The workshop also addressed the important question of where there are gaps in information from weather stations and ice-core data which are crucial for validating SMB models over Greenland. (from Sheffield WS, 19-20 May 2015).

• The design of three MIPs were presented in the workshop: the third Marine Ice Sheet MIP (MISMIP+), the second Ice Shelf­Ocean MIP (ISOMIP+) and the first Marine Ice Sheet­Ocean MIP (MISOMIP1). The workshop unfolded in four sessions: 1. Experimental Design, 2. Logistics for Participation, 3. Remaining Design Questions (a. Which basal friction law should be used in MISMIP+?, b. How should dynamic calving be handled (if at all) in eachMIP?, c. To what extent should MISOMIP1 ask participants to submit results in a common configuration?), 4. Future Directions presented possible next steps for each MIP. (from Churchill College WS, 16 August, 2015)

Ilulissat Climate Days Workshop

When: 02 - 05 June 2015 I Where: Ilulissat, Denmark

Cryosphere changes in Greenland and the Arctic are spectacular manifestations of global climate change, and have made Greenland quite a “hotbed” for international science in recent years. The “Ilulissat Climate Days” was aimed to give a status of current changes in the Greenland cryosphere (ice sheet, icecaps, glaciers, and sea ice changes), especially in order to report and discuss the rapid changes of the last few years, as seen from a variety of in-situ, airborne and remote sensing data, as well as understanding the processes of the rapid changes. The meeting was also intended to provide an opportunity for local and regional stakeholders to get updated information on the current changes, and many representatives of the Greenland parliament and government bodies, as well as local people from Ilulissat, participated at various stages of the conference.
The Ilulissat Climate Days was a follow up the highly successful Nuuk Climate Days 2009, and at the same time served as the final conference of SVALI (Stability and Variations of Arctic Land Ice), a Nordic Council of Ministers Center of Excellence research project, focussing on changes and glaciological processes across all Nordic ice caps (Scandinavia, Svalbard, Iceland as well as Greenland). Several stakeholders and media people from the Nordic countries participated in this activity as well.
Overall a total of 179 participants was registered for the Ilulissat Climate Days, with a good mix of young scientists (Ph.D. students and postdocs), experienced researchers, stakeholders and politicians, including several officials from the European Space Agency as well. 


René Forsberg


Scientific Highlights

• The workshop consists of sessions on “Cryosphere changes: Observations and Impact on Society”, “Climate Change and Society”, “Greenland, Arctic and Antarctic Ice Cap Changes”, “Space Measurement of Cryosphere Changes”, “Observations and Models”, as well as the special conference “Stability and Variations of Arctic Land Ice”.

• The main message from the presentations was that the Greenland and Arctic ice sheet changes are increasing, with melt regions moving further north, and sea ice is thinning with shorter ice-covered periods along the Greenland coasts. Process understanding of the changes are linked to meteorology, glacier hydrology, snow melt and albedo is improving, but the pace of future changes is still highly dependent on changes in future climate and the associated dynamic effects, and it is crucial to monitor current changes closely to have faith in models of future melt.

IASC Network on Arctic glaciology annual meeting & Workshop on the Dynamics and Mass budget of Arctic glaciers

When: 23 - 25 March 2015 I Where: Obergurgl, Austria

From 23 to 25 March 2015 the workshop on the Dynamics and Mass budget of Arctic glaciers & the IASC Network on Arctic glaciology annual meeting took place at the University Centre Obergurgl, Austria. The objective of this meeting was:

  • to present and discuss new results on observations and modelling of the dynamics and mass budget of Arctic glaciers,
  • to plan and coordinate field work on Arctic glaciers with the aim of using the available infrastructure and logistics in the most efficient way
  • to develop ideas for future projects and collaboration.

NAG Workshop Report

1st European Snow Science Winter School 2015

When: 08 - 14 February 2015 I Where: Sodankylä, Finland

Snow is a key component of the cryosphere. Snow grain size (microstructure) of snow is relevant to most physical properties of the snowpack, as albedo, radiative transfer of microwaves, thermal conductivity, trafficability, air permeability. Responding to the recommendation by a recent workshop (Snow Grain Size Intercomparison Workshop 2014), underlined the need to teach modern techniques of snow microstructure characterization to a wider community, especially to graduate and post-graduate scientist. An improved quantification of snow properties is highly relevant to understand the changing arctic snowpack.
In this workshop we will teach the state-of-the-art snow measurement techniques, both direct and indirect methods that were developed and are being used by different groups. The focus of this workshop lies on field measurements, combined with theoretical lessons in the classroom. Field measurements will be done in small groups of 3-4 students. Each group of students will have to prepare a report describing the methods, results and interpretation. The course corresponds to 3 ETCS-Points.

Martin Schneebeli

Juha Lemmetyinen


Scientific Highlights

• 27 scientists, selected from 54 applications (4 Post-Docs, 19 PhD-students, 4 MSc), had participated in a training course for modern snow observation techniques.

• The topics covered are: Snow deposition, metamorphism and settling, Microstructure of snow and mathematical representation, Physical properties of snow, Optical properties of snow, Snow measurement methods: traditional and modern, Snowpack and land-surface modelling, Snow climatology and hydrology, Aspects of field safety and field organisation.

• Post-workshop responses were very positive. 2nd Snow Science Winter School will also be held in Preda and Davos, Switzerland in 14-20 February 2016.