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Future Earth and the Cryosphere


Allison, I and Hock, R and King, MA and Mackintosh, A, Future Earth and the Cryosphere, Global Change and Future Earth: The Geoscience Perspective, Cambridge University Press, T Beer, J Li, K Alverson (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 91-113. ISBN 9781316761489 (2018) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Cambridge University Press

DOI: doi:10.1017/9781316761489.011


The term "cryosphere" (deriving from the Greek word kryos for frost or icy cold) is used to describe collect­ively those portions of the Earth's surface where water is in a solid form. It includes sea, lake, and river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets, and frozen ground (including permafrost). While the focus of this chapter is on geodetic issues and Future Earth, which primarily involves ice sheets and glaciers on land and their role in global mass redistribution and sea level, the cryosphere as a whole is an integral part of the global climate system with important links and feedbacks gen­erated through its influence on surface energy and mois­ture fluxes, clouds, precipitation, hydrology, and atmospheric and oceanic circulation. The basic proper­ties that determine these roles are the high albedo of snow and ice surfaces; the latent heat involved in phase changes of ice/water; the height-mass balance feedback, which results from the great elevation of ice sheets and resultant effects on temperature and precipitation; and the insulating effect of snow cover on land and of floating ice on fresh water or seawater. Other major factors include the water volume stored in ice sheets and glaciers, the greenhouse gases locked up in perma­frost, and the delays in annual energy and water cycles due to seasonal snow and ice cover. Through these and associated feedback processes, the cryosphere plays a significant role in global climate. Cryospheric processes therefore need to be included explicitly and correctly in climate models to project future response to global change. Change in the cryosphere is also an important indicator of climate variability and change.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:ice sheet mass balance, sea level change, glacier change
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geophysics
Research Field:Geodesy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Allison, I (Dr Ian Allison)
UTAS Author:King, MA (Professor Matt King)
UTAS Author:Mackintosh, A (Associate Professor Andrew Mackintosh)
ID Code:129305
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2018-11-22
Last Modified:2018-12-04

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