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Publications and Reports

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, WGI Chapter 4: Observations: Cryosphere (2014)

Description

This is the chapter on the cryosphere in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. It  synthesizes the scientific knowledge on observed changes in the cryosphere, which comprises snow, river and lake ice, sea ice, glaciers and ice caps, ice shelves, ice sheets, and frozen ground.

In terms of its mass and its heat capacity, the cryosphere is the second largest component of the climate system (after the ocean). Its relevance for climate variability and change is based on physical properties, such as its high surface reflectivity (albedo) and the latent heat associated with phase changes, which have a strong impact on the surface energy balance. The presence (absence) of snow or ice in polar regions is associated with an increased (decreased) meridional temperature difference, which affects winds and ocean currents. Because of the positive temperature-ice albedo feedback, some cryospheric components act to amplify both changes and variability. However, some, like glaciers and permafrost, act to average out short-term variability and so are sensitive indicators of climate change.

Reference information

Websites:
Source:
IPCC

Keywords

albedo, climate system, cryosphere, feedback, frozen ground, glaciers, ice caps, ice mass, ice sheets, lake ice, latent heat, meridional temperatur difference, observed changes, ocean, permafrost, physical properties, reflectivity, river ice, sea ice, shelves, snow, surface energy balance, synthesis of scientific knowledge, variability

Climate impacts

Extreme Temperatures, Sea Level Rise, Ice and Snow

Elements

Observations and Scenarios

Sectors

Water management

Geographic characterisation

Global

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