CR
Cryospheric Sciences

Cryospheric Sciences

Atmospheric Rivers: A blanket for Antarctic winter sea ice

Atmospheric Rivers: A blanket for Antarctic winter sea ice

The mysterious appearance and disappearance of the Weddell Polynya, a giant hole in the sea ice cover, has long puzzled scientists. Recent work reveals that the polynya is initiated and maintained by gigantic and formidable atmospheric currents: atmospheric rivers! Read on to find out more… Each year, approximately 15 million square kilometers of ice forms in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica d ...[Read More]

Image of the Week – Icebergs increase heat flux to glacier

Image of the Week – Icebergs increase heat flux to glacier

Icebergs are ubiquitous in Greenland’s fjords, melting and releasing freshwater as they float towards the open ocean. The amount of freshwater released from these icebergs can be vast – the equivalent of around 50,000 Olympic swimming pools per day in some fjords. New research reveals that this freshwater causes fjord currents to speed-up, which can actually increase the amount of heat delivered t ...[Read More]

Cryo-massy Films

Cryo-massy Films

There are countless Christmas films, and almost all of them feature some form of snow, ice or cold weather. There are the classics such as Home Alone, Elf and Miracle on 34th Street, and there are the newer, shall we say ‘Netflix’ style, which feature Princes, Knights and Vanessa Hudgens. There’s just no way to watch them all over the festive period, so let us recommend you our top 5 Christmas fil ...[Read More]

Time To Reflect

Albedo or albedon’t? One possible solution to global warming is to turn everything white to increase the planet’s albedo, i.e. how reflective it is (see, for example, this website). A higher albedo would be one way to reduce global warming, by reducing the amount of incoming shortwave solar radiation absorbed by the planet’s surface, which is then re-emitted as longwave radiation that ...[Read More]

Hysteresis For Dummies – Why history matters

Hysteresis For Dummies – Why history matters

Perhaps you have stumbled upon the word ‘hysteresis’ before, for example in connection with the stability behavior of our Earth’s large ice sheets and their long-term effect on global sea-level rise, or the long-term stability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or even in another context outside earth/climate science. Or you might have come across this term during your studies, bu ...[Read More]

Seafloor secrets: traces of the past Patagonian ice sheet

Today’s Patagonian ice caps are confined to the high-altitude Andean Mountain range as the Northern and Southern Patagonia ice fields, and they are rapidly melting. The southern part of the Patagonian ice cap drains partially through fast-flowing ice streams into the fjords of Patagonia. Glaciers in this region have been losing ice at accelerating rates by large calving events, due to rising globa ...[Read More]

Did you know… that you can read the edge of Greenland’s ice as an open book?

Did you know… that you can read the edge of Greenland’s ice as an open book?

Scientists struggle to get ice samples from the depths of glaciers where fundamental pieces of information about the climate of Earth are stored. But in many places around the periphery of the Greenland Ice Sheet, you don’t need to drill a deep ice core to obtain ancient ice, you can simply walk across the ice sheet’s margin and look at the layered ice surface. There you can read the ice as though ...[Read More]

How small changes can make a big difference: tipping points in Antarctica

As Antarctica’s mass loss increases, the threat of crossing tipping points both in the ice sheet and the surrounding Southern Ocean is increasing. But what actually is a tipping point? Have tipping points already been crossed in the past? And what might the future hold? What do we mean by a “tipping point”? Scientifically speaking, a tipping point is generally understood to be a threshold that, on ...[Read More]

Running a live stream of proglacial processes

Running a live stream of proglacial processes

In Switzerland, nothing is really remote, but some places are more so than others. Dense infrastructure networks typically provide convenient access to research sites in the Alps where it is difficult to feel far away from home. However, this is not always the case… For us, our home for the summer is a bit different. We work at 2400 m above sea level in Southern Switzerland, in a narrow vall ...[Read More]

How do the ups and downs of the solid Earth influence the future of the West Antarctic ice sheet?

When the Antarctic ice sheet loses mass, the pressure it exerts on the underlying solid Earth decreases. As the ice sheet becomes less heavy, the Earth’s surface is not pressed down as much as before and therefore slowly rises up. In some regions, this rebound process is much faster than previously thought and could stabilise areas of unstable ice retreat. How come? Keep reading to figure it out… ...[Read More]