Please visit the Cross-Cutting Activities page for more information on upcoming activities co-sponsored by the Cryosphere Working Group.
The State of Glaciers and Ice Caps in the Arctic Region
When: 11 October 2019 | Where: Reykjavík (Iceland) | Contact: Þorsteinn Þorsteinsson
Arctic Glaciers: Recent mass loss and contributions to sea-level rise
Session at the Arctic Circle Assembly
Geodetic glacier mass balance and the ArcticDEM
Workshop in connection with the Arctic Circle Assembly
Recent mass loss from Arctic glaciers and ice caps and new methods to analyse these changes received attention at an IASC-supported session and workshop, held during this year’s Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland. This symposium, which draws more than 2000 delegates annually, has now become one of the largest platforms for international dialogue on the future of the Arctic.
In the breakout session on Arctic glaciology, results from Greenland, Arctic Canada, Svalbard and Iceland were presented and discussed. Different methods for determining the mass balance of glaciers and ice caps were outlined by the speakers: Ground based measurements of surface mass balance, estimates of calving rates, aerial photography, airborne lidar measurements, satellite gravimetry and mass balance modelling. The results are unequivocal: Glaciers in the Arctic are losing mass at a dramatic pace in response to rapid warming in the region. The Greenland Ice Sheet is currently the largest single contributor to ongoing sea-level rise, delivering 247±15 GT/yr of meltwater to the oceans. All other glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic (including the Greenland periphery) are estimated to contribute 213±29 GT/yr. Five presentations were given during the 90-minute session in the Harpa Conference Centre in Reykjavík, which was attended by 70 delegates.
The IASC grant also provided partial support for a 1/2 day workshop on the Arctic DEM, a new digital elevation model of the entire Arctic and sub-Arctic region north of 60°N, including glaciated regions. This data set was created from satellite measurements conducted during the US Chairmanship in the Arctic Council in 2015-2017. The workshop was attended by 20 glaciologists and other experts working in this field, representing most Arctic countries. Presentations were given on the Arctic DEM, on initial attempts to use this digital model to study glacier changes since 2015 and on related studies of geodetic mass balance. Participants explored the possibilities and methodologies for deriving geodetic glacier mass balance from repeated DEMs of glaciers from the ArcticDEM and other data sets. Future collaboration of scientists working with Arctic glaciers in this area of research was also discussed by the group.
The Arctic Circle session and the dArcticDEM Workshop form part of activities organized during Iceland´s chairmanship in the Arctic Council 2019-2021.
- Arctic and sub-Arctic ice masses (including the Greenland ice sheet) presently account for two thirds of the total contribution of glaciers and ice caps on Earth to ongoing sea-level rise. GRACE-FO data allow continuation of earlier gravimetry results on mass loss from Greenland and Arctic Canada.
- The ice bridge across the Hornsund channel, which separates the two southernmost islands of Svalbard, is projected to have diappeared by 2065. By then, peak runoff from ice caps in Iceland will have been reached, according to recent estimates.
- The new Arctic DEM and products that will result from followup projects create an opportunity to monitor glacier changes in the Arctic with unprecedented precision.
International Summer School in Glaciology
When: 5 - 15 June 2018 | Where: McCarthy (Alaska) | Contact: Regine Hock
Nearly 30 graduate students from over 25 universities and a dozen countries as far as Nepal, India, Peru and New Zealand gathered in the small Alaskan village of McCarthy to participate in UAF’s fifth 11-day International Summer School in Glaciology. Steep ice-covered mountains provided the perfect setting to equip early stage PhD students with tools to address the expanding challenges in quantifying and modeling rapid changes in glaciers and ice sheets occurring in response to a warming climate, and to foster collaboration among students as well as established scientists in the field of glaciology. The eight instructors from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and three other US universities/institutions stayed for the entire period, offering plenty of opportunity for interaction between the instructors and students during and outside the formal instruction period.
Overall, the course was well received by the participants. The students left not only with a stronger background in glaciology, but also with a network of professional contacts from around the world. All course material is openly available here.
SCAR/IASC/CliC Ice Sheet Mass Balance and Sea Level (ISMASS)
When: 15 June 2018 | Where: Davos (Switzerland) | Contact: Edward Hanna
Prof. Edward Hanna of the School of Geography lead-organised an international research workshop on Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance - links between observational data and computer model simulations. This included some of the world-leading scientists working in this area. There were two keynote talks: Prof. Tony Payne (University of Bristol) spoke on "Challenges in making useful projections of the future sea-level contributions of ice sheets," while Prof. Andy Shepherd (University of Leeds) gave a very timely rundown of "Satellite observations of ice sheet mass balance." The latter talk was based on a major new research paper on Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance, 1992-2017, that Prof. Shepherd had lead-published in the journal NATURE the previous day. Other talks included the effects on ice sheets of limiting global warming to 1.5degC above pre-industrial levels by 2100 - an unlikely outcome but one that is highly relevant to study for an upcoming interim report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
For more information please see the workshop website.
• Review recent observational estimates, and their related uncertainties, of ice sheet mass balance (including surface mass balance, basal melting and solid-ice discharge components) and their response to climate change, and to reach a consensus on the magnitude of current ice-sheet contribution to sea-level change.
• Review recent improvements in ice-sheet modelling and the use of updated mass-balance observational datasets in ice-sheet models.
• Disseminate this improved understanding both to other researchers and also to policymakers and the general public.
Workshop on Knowledge Gaps of Cryospheric Extremes
Extreme weather events commonly encompass phenomena such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. In cold regions, these are augmented with snow and sea-ice related extreme events, usually triggered by anomalous atmospheric or oceanic conditions.
Although extreme events are a core climate research focus, cryospheric extremes have not received much attention yet. The overarching aim of the workshop was to review our understanding of cryospheric extreme events in the past, present and future, and to identify research needs.
The workshop was hosted by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Around 50 participants from 11 countries attended the workshop to discuss ice and snow extremes in marine, fluvial and terrestrial settings, using meteorological, hydrological, glaciological, social, engineering and medical perspectives.
• Overview on the impact of Arctic climate change on mid-latitudes weather and predictability of weather events from weekly to seasonal time scales, respectively.
• New methods to detect and monitor snow and sea ice parameters from space.
• Review of how the ECMWF forecasting system has been developed towards statistical calculation of probabilities of extreme events.
• Several examples of weather related impacts on mortality, and a novel analysis of daily mortality at European scale and its correlation to the cold spell in February 2018.
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.
• 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
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.
(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.
Network on Arctic Glaciology (NAG)
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