Climate Warming Pushes Northern Hemisphere Snowpack Toward Critical Threshold

Nature, 10 January 2024 This study contained two major findings: first, human-driven fossil fuel emissions have significantly reduced snowpack across the Northern Hemisphere ever since the 1980s. In addition, it found a critical temperature threshold already at -8°C (18°F), above which snowpack becomes very sensitive to warming, entering into dramatic decline. Below an average -8°C […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Disappearing Snow and Ice in the Hindu Kush Himalaya”

The snow and ice of the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountains supply seasonal freshwater to river basins that serve billions of people in Asia, but current emission trends and resulting warming have caused glaciers to shrink rapidly, posing severe threats to the region’s communities. This side event, organized by ICIMOD, examined the impact that cryosphere loss […]

Greenland Ice Loss 20% Higher Than Previously Estimated

Nature, 17 January 2024 New measurements reveal that the Greenland Ice Sheet lost 20% more ice over the past four decades than previously thought, with serious implications for global weather patterns, ocean circulation, ecosystems and food security. This study offers the most accurate assessment of Greenland ice loss to-date. While previous research focused on tracking […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Antarctica and Greenland: Nearing Thresholds from Different Ends” with Chris Stokes

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are both losing ice; and have the potential to undergo rapid and self-sustaining retreat that triggers accelerated sea level rise if the climate warms. Especially if temperatures pass 2°C above pre-industrial, triggered ice loss from these regions will cause massive and largely irreversible global sea level rise, potentially within […]

Marine Ice Sheet Instability Triggered Rapid Retreat of Major West Antarctic Glacier

Nature Climate Change, 4 December 2023 The massive Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica underwent a fifty-year period of “marine ice sheet instability” (MISI), a rapid cycle of retreat and ice loss that ended only when it reached a new stable position on bedrock in the 1990s. This glacier began rapidly retreating in the 1940s, […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Future Sea Level Rise from the Antarctic Ice Sheet: Equity and Intergenerational Justice”

Dr. Holly Han volunteered at the COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion as part of our Early Career Scientists Program, moderating side events and explaining the latest science to policy makers. She specializes in ice sheets; her research uses paleoclimate data over past glacial cycles to strengthen models and better predict future sea level rise. Most recently, her […]

One-Third of European Alps Glacier Ice Now Committed to Disappear Before 2050

Geophysical Research Letters, 1 December 2023 This study finds that the prognosis for glaciers in the European Alps is worse than previously thought, with one-third of present-day glacier ice committed to be lost by 2050, even were global emissions completely halted today. Researchers identify this level of ice loss as the “absolute minimum” – a […]

West Coast Mountains of North America at Half of Normal Snowpack in Extreme “Snow Drought”

News Briefing: 4 January 2024 From the Cascades to the Sierra Nevada, mountains along the western U.S. and lower Canadian coast currently have less than half their normal snowpack for this time of the year, raising concerns that the summer will bring major water shortages; with impacts on agriculture, power generation, fisheries and ecosystems. Snow […]

COP28 Video of the Week: “Protecting our Winters: Mobilizing the Outdoor Sports Community to Combat Climate Change”

Filmed last month at the COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion in Dubai, this side event reflects on the impacts of declining snow and ice in mid-latitude mountain ranges, with a unique focus on the outdoor sports industry. With one speaker joining in his snowboarding gear from a mountain top in Hochfügen, Austria, the event showcased successful initiatives […]

Key Takeaways from COP28 and the Cryosphere Pavilion in Dubai

We would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who is joining the “Cryosphere Capsules” newsletter for the first time after COP28! This message marks the return of the Cryosphere Capsules, a weekly email that provides plain-language summaries for policy makers of the latest developments in cryosphere and climate science. This week, we catch […]

Arctic Warming Accelerates Global Temperature Rise Towards Critical 1.5°C Threshold

Journal of Earth System Dynamics, 14 November 2023 The Arctic is warming nearly four times faster than the global average rate. A new study has quantified the impact of this faster warming on how quickly the Paris Agreement’s global temperature limits of 1.5°C and 2°C are likely to be breached. Scientists analyzed data from climate […]

Octopus DNA Shows Past West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapse with Temperatures Similar to Today

Science, 22 December 2023 The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) holds enough ice to raise global sea level by 5 meters, with direct consequences that include complete inundation of low-lying countries and global loss of coastal ecosystems. Modeling studies have suggested that WAIS collapse may already be inevitable, or very close to long-term committed collapse; […]

COP28 Cryosphere Pavilion: Schedule Updates from Dec. 1 – Dec. 12, 2023

Dear Cryosphere Capsule readers- For the next two weeks, our team will be at COP28 in Dubai helping organize the Cryosphere Pavilion with livestreamed events each day summarizing the latest cryosphere science. We will share daily updates on this mailing list with a schedule of side events that can also be watched live on our […]

Rapid Disintegration and Weakening of Ice Shelves in North Greenland

Nature Communications, 7 November 2023 The glaciers of North Greenland hold enough ice to raise sea level by 2.1 meters, but have long been considered stable because of their protective ice shelves; which serve as a barrier between the main ice sheet and the ocean. However, a new study shows that this stability no longer holds. […]