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Cryospheric Sciences

glacier

Did you know about the weathering crust? Five things you never knew about glacier surfaces

Did you know about the weathering crust? Five things you never knew about glacier surfaces

To the untrained eye, the melting surface of glaciers and ice sheets can look a little boring. It’s bright in some places, dark in others, and there are lots of things to fall over and (hopefully not) get your feet wet in. However, a huge range of processes are occurring both upon and just underneath the ice surface, in a 50-ish cm thick layer of ice called the weathering crust (or the “crust” for ...[Read More]

Did you know that glacier mass loss affects water resources?

The picture above shows a typical Kyrgyz summer yurt camp, located in the valley of Altyn-Arashan, Kyrgyzstan. The stream you see flowing through comes from the glacier-fed lake of Ala-Kul, the gorgeous turquoise water featured below. The families who live there during summer have done so for generations, and travel up with their herds of horses and cows. The stream provides the water they need fo ...[Read More]

Subglacial Hydrology For Dummies – Water, water everywhere…

Glaciers are mostly made of water. Sometimes, perhaps more than we’d like, some of that water makes a break for it by melting, the inconstant molecule… It might pootle around on the surface of the glacier a bit and get a lot of remote sensers very excited, but it’s what it does once it gets to the base of the glacier that really matters for the behaviour and flow of the ice. So, in 2000 word ...[Read More]

Image of the Week – What darkens snow and ice?

“Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow”. Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1 (W. Shakespeare) Snow and ice are not always as pristine as one may think. If you have ever walked on a glacier or on a snowfield during summer, you might have already noticed that. In fact, both snow and ice are often darkened by impurities. In this blog post, you will learn about the main processes leading to ice and snow darkeni ...[Read More]

Exploring the hidden plumbing of glaciers with Cryoegg

Plumbing is something we take for granted: the pipes that bring us water to wash and drink, and the pipes that take the waste water away again. We see the taps and basins in our kitchen and bathroom – but the pipes are hidden away under the floor or inside the walls – and we mostly ignore them until there’s a leak or a blockage! It turns out that glaciers have plumbing too – and ...[Read More]

What’s up on Thwaites Glacier?

What’s up on Thwaites Glacier?

With the West Antarctic Ice Sheet currently losing ice at a fast pace, leading to sea-level rise, it is very important to better understand the processes by which this ice melting occurs. In this context, Thwaites Glacier is a very good case study of an accelerating glacier, which contributes substantially to sea-level rise, and for which a huge scientific collaboration effort has recently been se ...[Read More]

Cryo-adventures – Behind the scenes of cryo-fieldwork

Cryo-adventures – Behind the scenes of cryo-fieldwork

As the Arctic is warming faster than the global average, Arctic glaciers are rapidly melting. My research is about the fate of glacial organic carbon when the ice containing it melts. To investigate these processes, I travelled to several glaciers, an activity full of challenges… and rewards! My research Glacier ice covers about 11% of Earth’s land surface, and contains within it a globally ...[Read More]

Image of the Week – Fifty shades of May (Glacier)

Image of the Week – Fifty shades of May (Glacier)

With over 198 000 glaciers in the world, you can always find a glacier that fits your mood or a given occasion. So why not for example celebrate the first Image of the Week of May with a picture of the aptly named May Glacier? May Glacier is in fact not named after the month, but after Mr May, an officer onboard the Flying Fish during her expedition to the East Antarctic coast in the 1840s. Apart ...[Read More]

Image of the Week – Ice Stupas: a solution for Himalayan water shortage?

Image of the Week – Ice Stupas: a solution for Himalayan water shortage?

As the world searches for practical innovations that can mitigate the impact of climate change, traditional methods of environmental management can offer inspiration. In Hindu Kush and Karakoram region, local people have been growing, or grafting, glaciers for at least 100 years. Legend has it that artificial glaciers were grown in mountain passes as early as the twelfth century to block the advan ...[Read More]

Image of the week – Micro-organisms on Ice!

Image of the week – Micro-organisms on Ice!

The cold icy surface of a glacier doesn’t seem like an environment where life should exist, but if you look closely you may be surprised! Glaciers are not only locations studied by glaciologists and physical scientists, but are also of great interest to microbiologists and ecologists. In fact, understanding the interaction between ice and microbiology is essential to fully understand the gla ...[Read More]