Two-Thirds of Iconic Mount Everest Glacier Would Disappear by 2100 with High Emissions

AGU Journals: Earth’s Future, 26 April 2024 The iconic East Rongbuk Glacier on Mount Everest’s north slope might lose two-thirds of its ice volume by the end of the century under high emissions, but global temperatures remaining below 1.5°C could allow more than half of its ice to survive past 2100. Glaciers in the Rongbuk […]

Rising Methane Emissions from Retreating Glaciers: From Greenland to Alaska’s Mountains

Scientific Reports, 9 May 2024 Small mountain glaciers in Alaska release high levels of methane gas in their meltwater runoff, unleashing previously frozen methane stores as the ice retreats. Similar studies have documented such methane release from glaciers across Greenland, Svalbard, and Iceland; adding to this knowledge base, new observations make clear that retreating small […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Climate-driven Methane Emissions in the High Arctic”

Dr. Gabrielle Kleber, an Early Career Scientist at the COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion, published a major paper in July 2023 on methane emissions from groundwaters that are released as glaciers retreat. She helped identify a positive feedback loop not currently considered in climate models, in which climate-driven glacial melt releases ancient methane in the high Arctic, […]

Low Emissions Key to Limiting Sea-level Rise from West Antarctica

Nature Communications, 23 April 2024 Weakened deep ocean mixing and sea ice loss could tip currently stable regions of West Antarctica across a threshold into extensive retreat for thousands of years, and this outcome can only be avoided with steep cuts in carbon emissions. This study unravels past ice sheet behavior to predict how it […]

Melting Ice Shelves Trigger Relentless Cycle of West Antarctic Ice Loss

Science Advances, 17 April 24 Researchers have identified a new positive feedback loop that intensifies ice shelf loss, suggesting that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is more vulnerable to temperature rise than previously expected. The feedback loop is self-reinforcing: increased ice shelf melting produces more freshwater, strengthening the undercurrent transporting warm water toward the ice […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Supporting Youth Through Effective Climate Education Policies”

Melting ice has long been a clear visual of our planet’s health. This event addressed the need for effective climate change education policies to increase cryosphere literacy, and showcased successful initiatives that equip youth with the tools they need to mitigate the feeling of eco-anxiety and empower them to become agents of change for a […]

Current and Future Emissions Determine Whether Subsea Arctic Permafrost Remains

Nature Communications, 15 April 2024 The level of future fossil fuel emissions will have a huge impact on whether “subsea” permafrost submerged along Arctic coastlines enters irreversible thaw, emitting its stored carbon, or remains fixed in its current frozen state. Continued high emissions along the lines of today’s will trigger rapid, irreversible acceleration of subsea […]

Rising Temperatures Endanger Sea Ice Bracing Large Antarctic Glaciers

The Cryosphere, 10 April 2024 Antarctica’s coastline is fringed with sea ice that buttresses large glaciers around the continent, but increasing exposure to large ocean waves in a warming climate could remove this protective barrier. In the Antarctic Peninsula, “land-fast” sea ice anchored to the Larsen B coast for over a decade broke away in […]

Extreme Ice Loss from Greenland’s Largest Floating Ice Tongue

The Cryosphere, 22 March 2024 The floating portion (“ice tongue”) of Greenland’s critical 79° North glacier has thinned by one-third over the past three decades, with extremely high melt rates where land-based ice meets the ocean. Authors reveal how rising air temperatures produce meltwater lakes that have carved huge drainage channels through the ice into […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Why East Antarctica is a ‘Sleeping Giant’ of Sea Level Rise”

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet stores the equivalent of 52 meters of sea-level rise, more than four times greater than both Greenland and West Antarctica combined. Although often viewed as less vulnerable to global warming, East Antarctica could increase global sea-level rise by several meters over the next few centuries if emissions remain on their […]

Earth’s Most Powerful Ocean Current Sensitive to Global Warming

Nature, 27 March 2024 Sediment records from the past five million years reveal that the massive Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) speeds up and slows down depending on Earth’s temperature, with previous warm periods bringing faster flow and increased Antarctic ice loss. During warm periods, these currents generate eddies that redirect warm water underneath floating ice […]

Coastal Hazards in the Alaskan Arctic Multiply with Sea Ice Loss

Communications Earth & Environment, 30 March 2024 Declining sea ice extent and lengthening open water conditions expose Arctic coastlines to more intense hazards every year, including storm surges, floods, and erosion. This paper assesses the vulnerability of Alaska to extreme wave events this century. Should current emissions continue, by 2070 the reduction in sea ice […]

Video of the Week: “Projections of an Ice-Free Arctic Ocean”

Dr. Alexandra Jahn, University of Colorado Boulder, is the lead author of a recent sea ice paper published in Nature, making clear that only the lowest emissions scenarios will minimize the frequency and length of future sea ice-free periods. She outlined key takeaways for policy makers during an Arctic 21 meeting on April 4; a […]

Arctic 21: Bringing Together Cryosphere Science and Policy

Dear Cryosphere Capsule readers, We would like to share with you a recording of the last “Arctic 21” meeting. This group has been actively meeting for more than a decade; and is a mixture of current and former government representatives, think tanks, and scientists, all with an interest in climate change, the Arctic and other […]

State of the Global Climate 2023 Report

World Meteorological Organization, 20 March 2024 This latest WMO report confirms 2023 was officially the hottest year in recorded history, shattering records of Antarctic sea ice decline, glacier retreat, ocean heat and acidification, sea-level rise, and greenhouse gas levels. Global average near-surface temperature reached 1.45°C above the pre-industrial baseline, increasing today’s ten-year average to 1.20°C. […]