Arctic Sea Ice Loss May Have Lasting Impacts on Weather Systems and Extremes

Nature Communications, 19 April 2022 The current rapid loss of Arctic sea ice may intensify temperature and precipitation trends by 50% in Europe, North America, West Africa and South America for several decades. Rising global temperatures accelerate the flow of heat from the North Atlantic Ocean into the Barents-Kara Seas and nearby Arctic regions. The […]

Current Human Emissions on Path to Cause Mass Marine Extinction Event

Science, 28 April 2022 Under a high emissions scenario, the combination of ocean acidification, ocean warming and oxygen loss — especially in the polar oceans — will result in catastrophic marine species loss by 2300. The scale of loss would be on par with the five mass ocean extinction events in Earth’s past. Rapidly curbing […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: “Why is West Antarctica So Important to Near-Term Sea-Level Rise?” with IPCC’s Jonathan Bamber and Rob DeConto

The geography of the West Antarctica holds the key as to why this part of the continent’s massive ice sheet may be vulnerable to rapid collapse, leading to potentially rapid sea-level rise that might reach several meters per century, especially at temperatures exceeding 3-4°C above pre-industrial. This session features multi-report IPCC authors and editors Dr. […]

Permafrost Thaw Triggers Collapse of Infrastructure in Denali National Park, Alaska

News Briefing: 26 April 2022 Denali National Park in Alaska will be largely closed to the public for the next two years due to an unprecedented series of landslides caused by thawing permafrost. These have broken away several sections of the single, 92-mile road leading through the park. As global temperatures rise, they accelerate the […]

Antarctic Sea Ice Hits All-time Record Low

Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 19 April 2022 During February of this year, the Antarctic sea ice cover shrank below two million square kilometers for the first time since the satellite record began in 1978. Rising global temperatures in combination with the full force of several global climate patterns produced this record-breaking low. Unusually strong wind […]

Air Currents from the Tropics Destabilize Antarctic Ice Shelves

Communications Earth & Environment, 14 April 2022 Over the past two decades, strong “atmospheric rivers” have triggered more than 60% of the major calving events of the Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves and preceded their main collapses. Atmospheric rivers are long, flowing air currents that carry water vapor from the tropics and deposit […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: “Preservation of Glaciers at 1.5°C” with IPCC Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Regine Hock, and Georg Kaser

For some mid-latitude glacier regions such as Scandinavia and the western United States, the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C is the difference between some small preservation of glacier ice; and none at all. This side event features a region-by-region survey of the benefits of meeting the 1.5°C goal for the world’s glacier systems by three […]

Mountain Glaciers in Washington State Could Disappear By 2070

Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 19 April 2022 Winter temperatures have increased by nearly 1°C in the Olympic mountain range over the past century, resulting in the disappearance of more than half its original glacial area. Glaciers in the Olympic mountains are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to both their low elevation, and […]

Northward Migration of Pacific Salmon Signals A Rapidly Changing Arctic

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 18 March 2022 This study provides the first confirmed record of Pacific salmon populations surviving and reproducing in Arctic waters near Alaska. As global temperatures rise, an increasing number of species are able to migrate northward into the Arctic Ocean due to more favorable water temperatures and the […]

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, Cryosphere Capsule readers! See ICCI’s “Cryosphere” tweets in honor of the day at (And check out Google’s search page, which today features time-lapse photographs of receding glaciers in East Africa and northeastern Greenland.) Whether you’re in cryosphere or not, have a wonderful day!

COP-26 Video of the Week: “Southern Hemisphere Glaciers: Andes and New Zealand” with Georg Kaser, Lauren Vargo and Heidi Sevestre

The glaciers of the Andes, Patagonia and New Zealand are among those in the world losing ice most quickly. This event looked at projections for the future at different emissions choices, and implications for water resources and local populations. Main Presenters: Dr. Lauren Vargo, Research Fellow at the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington/Te […]

40% of New Zealand’s Glaciers Could Disappear within a Decade

Global and Planetary Change, 19 March 2022 More than one-third of New Zealand’s glacier ice volume has disappeared within the past fifty years due to unusually warm summer temperatures, exacerbated by a recent marine heatwave. As global temperatures rise, New Zealand experiences more frequent extreme weather; last year was its warmest on record. Projections now […]

Increased Growth of Arctic Plants Does Not “Counteract” Climate Change

Scientific Reports, 21 March 2022 There has been speculation that warmer temperatures and a longer growing season in the Arctic might help slow climate change, by those plants absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) as temperatures rise. Plants naturally absorb CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. The reasoning has been that rising temperatures melt Arctic snow […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: Extreme Weather, Sea Ice and Arctic Warming with Walt Meier and Robbie Mallet

The loss of Arctic sea ice may be associated with many recent extreme weather events: from droughts and wildfires in the United States and Canadian West, to flooding in Germany and northern Europe. This event explored the evidence for a connection between Arctic sea ice loss and extreme weather patterns at lower latitudes, featuring Dr. […]

Black Carbon Accelerates Melting of South Andean Snowpack

Environmental Research Letters, 25 March 2022 Concentrations of black carbon (BC) in the snow near Santiago, one of the most populated cities in South America, are more than five times higher than elsewhere in the southern Andes and Patagonia. This study provides the first comprehensive assessment of the impacts of black carbon on seasonal snow […]

Extreme Rainfall Increases Permafrost Thaw for Multiple Years in Siberian Tundra

Nature Communications, 23 March 2022 Extreme summer rainfall can increase the depth of permafrost thaw by over 30% in the northeastern Siberian tundra, an Arctic region characterized by its thick, frozen ground. Periods of intense rainfall allow warm water to seep downward and transport heat into frozen soils, accelerating permafrost thaw. The effects of extreme […]

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice Raises Temperatures Across Tibetan Plateau

NPJ Climate and Atmospheric Science, 28 March 2022 The decline of sea ice in the Barents-Kara Seas could account for up to one-third of winter warming over the Tibetan Plateau. As global temperatures rise, sea ice loss accelerates across the Arctic, especially in regions such as the Barents-Kara Seas (located to the north of Norway […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: Impact of Lost Sea Ice / Ecosystem Collapse with Helen Findley, Walt Meier, and Martin Sommerkorn

What are the impacts of Arctic and Southern Ocean sea ice loss on marine ecosystems and fisheries? How is this ecosystem, so dependent on thick and reliable multi-year ice, going to respond to its decline and complete loss – which will occur even at 1.5°C of warming? This session features Dr. Helen Findley, Biological Oceanographer […]

Multi-year Winter Sea Ice in the Arctic is Vanishing Faster Than Expected

Geophysical Research Letters, 10 March 2022 Much of Arctic sea ice research focuses on summer sea ice loss; but this study found that the Arctic has now lost one-third of its winter sea ice volume in the past 20 years as well, including a large amount of its thick, multi-year ice. This decline in sea […]

Record-Breaking Heatwaves Simultaneously Hit Antarctica and the Arctic; Conger Ice Shelf Collapses

Both of Earth’s polar regions experienced extreme heat this week, with parts of Antarctica rising more than 40°C above average; and regions of the Arctic reaching 30°C above. Such high temperatures in Antarctica and the Arctic are consistent with model projections of extreme temperature events under continued carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Warm air […]