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ICCI releases weekly summaries describing the latest findings in cryosphere research and news. These summaries are known as our Cryosphere Capsules and are published as an e-newsletter every Friday. The Cryosphere Capsules are aimed at policymakers, scientists, and anyone with an interest in the cryosphere. Sign up to receive our e-newsletter below.

Video of the Week: UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal

“Polar Oceans: Engine to the Global Ocean” June 2022 This side event at the UN Ocean Conference (UNOC) last week described the rapid changes taking place in Arctic and Antarctic waters through the lens of rising sea levels, ice loss, and acidification. The Arctic and Southern Ocean play a critical role in the stability of […]

Rising Temperatures Produced a Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy

News Briefing: 4 July 2022 At least seven people were killed and fourteen are missing after a glacial ice shelf collapsed in the northern Italian Alps last week. The combination of prolonged summer heatwaves with unusually warm winter conditions weakened the base of the Marmolada glacier over several years, creating an unstable overhanging ice shelf […]

Intensification of Westerly Winds Surrounding Antarctica Increases Ice Loss

Communications Earth & Environment, 22 June 2022 The Southern Annular Mode, or SAM, is a belt of strong air currents that influence precipitation and weather patterns across the Southern Ocean. During their “positive” phase, these winds constrict around Antarctica; this increases the upwelling of warm water from deep circumpolar currents that circle the ice sheet. […]

Fragmentation of Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf Likely Within the Next Decade

The Cryosphere, 27 June 2022 The Thwaites Eastern Ice Shelf is the only floating extension of Thwaites Glacier that remains “pinned” to the underlying seabed, slowing the flow of the glacier into the ocean. Pressure generated by upstream ice against this “pinning point” previously served as a crucial source of support for the Thwaites Eastern […]

COP26 Video of the Week: “Elevating Adaptation Action: From the Alps to the Andes to the Hindu Kush Himalaya” with ICIMOD

This COP26 session offers policy and youth perspectives on needed climate actions; highlighting ways in which policy makers and researchers can collaborate to scale up adaption solutions for mountain communities on a global scale. The speakers emphasize the importance of regional cooperation for conservation and sustainable mountain development. This session was organized by ICIMOD, the […]

Rising Temperatures and Decreased Snowpack Jeopardize Water Supplies Across the Western US

News Briefing: 14 June 2022 As the western United States endures a multi-year drought exacerbated by decreased seasonal snowpack most years, two major reservoirs have reached dangerously low levels. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in cities from Denver to Los Angeles. Lake Mead near Las Vegas, and Lake Powell on […]

Extreme Heatwave in the Central Andes Accelerates the Melting of Glaciers

News Briefing: 13 June 2022 An intense heatwave earlier this year removed more than 90% of the snow cover in the central Andes, accelerating glacier melt for several months. The Andes are typically covered in a thick layer of snow for much of the local summer months. Snow insulates the glacial ice underneath, blocking it […]

Rapid Loss of Peruvian Glaciers Threatens Freshwater Availability for Millions

Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, June 2022 Glacier retreat could reduce water availability during the “dry season” in Peru by more than 50% within the next three decades. The central Andes experience long periods of reduced rainfall and high temperatures from April-October, resulting in extremely dry conditions. As global temperatures rise, Peruvian glaciers have decreased […]

Video of the Week: Bonn UNFCCC Inter-sessional Meetings – Carbon Emissions from the “Country of Permafrost”: A Top-10 Emitter for the Global Stocktake

For the first Global Stocktake process under the Paris Agreement, a group of cryosphere research groups made a submission, not on behalf of a government, but for the “Country of Permafrost.” In this June 9 media event at the recent UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn, speakers Dr. Gustaf Hugelius, Co-Director, Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm […]

New Indicators of Permafrost Thaw in Alaska

Nature Geoscience, 6 June 2022 The formation of taliks – unfrozen ground surrounded by permafrost – is an important mechanism for and indicator of permafrost degradation. As temperatures increase, more taliks will form in a wider area of the Arctic’s permafrost regions. Under a high-emissions scenario, talik will form in nearly three-quarters of Alaska’s discontinuous […]

Expanding Surface Rivers on Greenland Ice Sheet Accelerate Melting

Nature Climate Change, 16 June 2022 Runoff areas for rivers on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet expanded by nearly a third between 1985 and 2020. Usually, at high ice sheet elevations, melting surface snow filters down and refreezes, thereby not contributing to ice sheet shrinking. In this study, authors found that excess melt […]

Newly Released Temperature Data Make the Barents Arctic Earth’s Fastest-warming Region

Scientific Reports, 15 June 2022 New data from the North Barents Sea area show annual average temperatures have increased by up to 2.7°C per decade, with particularly high rises in the autumn months of up to 4°C per decade. This data, which would make the Barents the fastest warming region on the planet, is based […]

Video of the Week: Press Conference from Bonn UNFCCC Inter-sessional Meetings: “Antarctica and Potentially Extreme Future Sea Level Rise” with Dr. Robert DeConto

At the Research Dialogues session of the UNFCCC meetings SB56 in Bonn last week, IPCC SROCC Lead Author Rob DeConto gave a presentation explaining the science behind the “red dotted line” on potentially extreme sea level rise, in a key sea-level rise figure from the IPCC AR 6 Working Group I report. Under a high […]

Rising Temperatures Threaten the Southern Ocean’s Ability to Absorb Carbon and Slow Climate Change

Nature Communications, 14 June 2022 Increased ice loss appears to be reducing the Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb and store atmospheric carbon. The surface waters surrounding Antarctica have been absorbing much of human CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, sequestering the carbon in deep ocean layers. This has slowed the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and […]

Two Major Antarctic Glaciers Losing Ice at Highest Rate in at least 5,000 Years

Nature Geoscience, 9 June 2022 Over the past three decades, ice loss has more than doubled from the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers in West Antarctica. These massive glaciers, which form part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) are especially vulnerable to rapid melting. This is because they sit on sloping bedrock, where warm […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: “Life Without Glaciers?” with Bethan Davies, Georg Kaser, Regine Hock, and Christian Huggel

Through concrete examples from three continents — the Tarim Basin, the northern Andes and the Alps — this COP26 side event explored the direct and indirect consequences of glacier loss, needed emissions reductions to prevent or minimize this outcome, ways to adapt, and levels at which adaptation may not be feasible. Main Presenters include Dr. […]

Increased Plant Growth in European Alps Increases Warming and Ice Loss

Science, 2 June 2022 Over the past four decades, three-quarters of the European Alps above the tree line have experienced an increase in plant growth, a process known as “greening.” Although greening could increase carbon sequestration in the region, accelerated snow melt in combination with more habitable conditions for plant growth will lead to harmful […]

Meltwater Seeping Below Massive High Latitude Glaciers Increases Rate of Ice Loss

The Cryosphere, 21 April 2022 The large, very thick marine-terminating glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic appear more vulnerable to rising temperatures than previously realized. These massive glaciers have sometimes sped up their discharge of ice into the ocean over the past few decades, beginning in the late 1990’s. This model study explains the mechanisms […]

Increased Flow of Warm Atlantic Waters Accelerating Arctic Sea Ice Loss

Geophysical Research Letters Oceans, 28 May 2022 Rising temperatures have increased the frequency of winter melt events across the Arctic. These brief but intense melt events have contributed to nearly half of total sea ice loss in regions north of Svalbard. Major ocean currents carry warm Atlantic waters into the Arctic. During periods of strong […]