Additional Global Warming Feedbacks from Decay of the Earth’s Cryosphere

Nature Communications, October 27
New climate modelling shows that feedbacks from cryosphere melt dynamics including loss of Arctic summer sea-ice, melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets, and retreat of mountain glaciers could result in an additional 0.4°C of global temperature rise under 1.5°C emissions scenarios. This warming response from melting ice would be 55% caused by albedo changes, 30% by water vapor content, and 15% by cloud feedbacks. (The modelling did not include permafrost thaw carbon emission feedbacks.)  The contribution of added global freshwater amounts from a melting cryosphere to overall warming has yet to be reliably quantified, and the authors conclude that localized warming near the decaying polar ice sheets and sea ice could be up to 5°C stronger, especially around Greenland and West Antarctica.

Compiled by Amy Imdieke.

By Amy Imdieke, Global Outreach Director, and Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI.
Published Nov. 17, 2020      Updated Jul. 12, 2022 3:22 pm