Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, Cryosphere Capsule readers! See ICCI’s “Cryosphere” tweets in honor of the day at https://twitter.com/iccinet/status/1517404853752016896. (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 […]

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 […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: Committed Permafrost Emissions and Intergenerational Justice with Gustaf Hugelius, Jens Strauss, and Sarah Chadburn

Permafrost begins emitting carbon into the atmosphere as soon as its first thaw. These emissions can continue for over 100 years and in some cases centuries, depending on local conditions. Each degree of rising temperatures therefore commits several future generations to so-called “negative emissions,” or carbon drawdown even long after human emissions go to zero. […]

High-Elevation Permafrost More Vulnerable to Rising Temperatures than Arctic Permafrost

Nature Communications, 14 March 2022 Even at current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, 60% of high-elevation “alpine” permafrost and 20% of Arctic permafrost may be lost in the near future. Most alpine permafrost is located in the Tibetan Plateau, but is also found in the Mongolian Plateau, the Rocky Mountains, the Andes, and other global […]

Tipping Point for Permafrost Peatlands Sooner Than Expected

Nature Climate Change, 14 March 2022 Large expanses of northern Europe and western Siberia may become too warm and wet within a few decades to sustain frozen permafrost peatlands, even under moderate emissions. These frozen peatlands, an especially vulnerable portion of permafrost lands, span 1.4 million square kilometers in Europe and Siberia, and contain 40 […]

COP-26 Video of the Week: Triple Threat to Polar Oceans with Carol Turley, Helen Findley, Sian Henley, Rolf Rødven and Anne Nuorgam

The Arctic and Southern Oceans play a key role in regulating the global climate, but are under serious threat from CO2 emissions causing three main and linked impacts: warming, acidification and freshening; as well as invasion by non-polar species, with consequences for food webs and fisheries. This session at COP26 highlights the latest scientific findings […]

Rising Temperatures Double Glacier Loss in the Russian High Arctic

The Cryosphere, 6 January 2022 Glaciers in the Russian High Arctic lost twice as much ice between 2010 and 2017 as in the previous decade. Until recently, these glaciers appeared more protected and intact than most faster-melting glaciers in high latitude regions, such as subarctic Alaska. This accelerating ice loss in Russia is most notable […]

Decline in Salmon Size Signals Potentially Significant Fisheries and Ecosystem Shift in the North Atlantic

Science Advances, 4 March 2022 In 2005, a sudden reduction in the transport of Arctic water into the Norwegian Sea resulted in widespread changes throughout the Northeast Atlantic ecosystem. The resulting rush of warm water into the Norwegian Sea elevated spring water temperatures, coinciding with a 50% reduction in zooplankton abundance across large areas of […]

Warm Water Slowed Formation of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Communications Earth & Environment, 21 February 2022 New evidence suggests the presence of warm, deep water delayed the expansion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet as it formed 35 million years ago; and similar conditions today may cause its destabilization. The Pine Island Trough is a deep channel in the Amundsen Sea, sending ocean water […]

Arctic Council Suspends Work Due to Invasion of Ukraine

On March 3, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States issued the following joint statement: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and note the grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic, that Russia’s actions […]

Rapid Arctic Sea Ice Loss Increases the “Atlantification” of the Fram Strait

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 18 February 2022 The Fram Strait is the main waterway connecting the central Arctic Ocean to the Nordic Seas. Currents flowing along the Strait’s western side carry nearly 90% of all sea ice export out of the Arctic Ocean. As global temperatures rise, they accelerate the loss of ice, triggering […]