Cryospheric science

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Accurate seasonal forecasts of sea ice are highly valuable, particularly in the context of sea ice loss due to global warming. A new machine learning tool for sea ice forecasting offers a substantial increase in accuracy over current physics-based dynamical model predictions.

    • Tom R. Andersson
    • , J. Scott Hosking
    •  & Emily Shuckburgh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anomalously slow earthquakes play a critical role in the earthquake cycle and fault sliding. Here, the authors detect continuous seismic radiation from a glacier sliding over its bed and show persistent coastal shaking to represent an addition to the family of slow earthquakes.

    • Evgeny A. Podolskiy
    • , Yoshio Murai
    •  & Shin Sugiyama
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Melting at the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet is often disregarded as a source of quantifiable mass loss. In this study, the authors find the basal mass loss is equivalent to 8% of the ice sheet’s present imbalance, and that the loss of mass from basal melt is likely to increase in the future.

    • Nanna B. Karlsson
    • , Anne M. Solgaard
    •  & Robert S. Fausto
  • Article
    | Open Access

    New data from five hot-water drilled boreholes show how atmospheric anomalies affect the circulation beneath Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf on multi-year time scales. The apparent link of the dense water formation to remote teleconnections is an important step for better predicting contributions to future sea level rise from this sector of Antarctica.

    • Tore Hattermann
    • , Keith W. Nicholls
    •  & Torsten Kanzow
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Arctic Ocean cooling machine, currently the Barents Sea, plays a crucial role in both regulating the climate and determining the deep ocean circulation. Here the authors show that the efficiency of the cooling machine is poleward enhanced in a warming climate, which pushes Arctic Atlantification poleward.

    • Qi Shu
    • , Qiang Wang
    •  & Fangli Qiao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glaciers in High Mountain Asia are a key water resource. The authors use remote sensing data and a regional implementation of the continuity equation to quantify glacier ablation and accumulation rates for 2000–2016, and establish current climatic-geometric imbalances that imply strong reductions in ice volume by 2100.

    • Evan Miles
    • , Michael McCarthy
    •  & Francesca Pellicciotti
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The long-term impact of extreme surface melt on the Greenland Ice Sheet is poorly constrained. Here the authors use airborne radar to characterize a subsurface refrozen melt layer that formed following extreme melt in 2012, showing that it likely reduced drainage pathways for subsequent melt.

    • Riley Culberg
    • , Dustin M. Schroeder
    •  & Winnie Chu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate models struggle to track the response of Arctic sea ice to warming, leading to efforts to improve sea-ice models. Here the author shows standard model metrics are poor judges of the impact of model improvements, but a new one, marginal ice zone fraction, is optimally suited to this task.

    • Christopher Horvat
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Palaeodata resolution and dating limit the study of the sequence of changes across Earth during past abrupt warmings. Here, the authors show tight decadal-scale coupling between Greenland climate, North Atlantic sea ice and atmospheric circulation during these past events using two highly resolved ice-core records.

    • E. Capron
    • , S. O. Rasmussen
    •  & J. W. C. White
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Meltwater Pulse 1A was the most rapid global sea-level rise event during the last deglaciation, but the source of the freshwater causing this rise is debated. Here, the authors use a data-driven inversion approach to show that the North American and Eurasian Ice Sheets were the dominant contributors.

    • Yucheng Lin
    • , Fiona D. Hibbert
    •  & Sarah L. Bradley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    New simulations find that one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves, the Filchner–Ronne, may be less vulnerable to climate change than previously thought. Melting of the ice shelf initially decreases for many decades, and only increases when global warming exceeds approximately 7 °C.

    • Kaitlin A. Naughten
    • , Jan De Rydt
    •  & Jeff K. Ridley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The configuration of past ice sheets, and therefore sea level, is highly uncertain. Here, the authors provide a global reconstruction of ice sheets for the past 80,000 years that allows to test proxy based sea level reconstructions and helps to reconcile disagreements with sea level changes inferred from models.

    • Evan J. Gowan
    • , Xu Zhang
    •  & Gerrit Lohmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Getz region of West Antarctica is losing ice at an increasing rate; however, the forcing mechanisms remain unclear. Here we show for the first time that since 1994, widespread speedup has occurred on the majority of glaciers in the Getz drainage basin, with some glaciers speeding up by over 44 %.

    • Heather L. Selley
    • , Anna E. Hogg
    •  & Tae-Wan Kim
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The deglaciation of Marinoan snowball Earth (~635 Myr ago) has been associated with potentially extensive CH4 emissions in relation to transient marine euxinia. Here, the authors find that active methanogenesis occurred during the termination of Marinoan snowball Earth, fueled by methyl sulfide production in sulfidic seawater.

    • Zhouqiao Zhao
    • , Bing Shen
    •  & Haoran Ma
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors report in-situ formation of jarosite witin the Talos Dome ice core (East Antarctica) and show that this ferric-potassium sulfate mineral is present in ice deeper than 1000 meters and progressively increases with depth. This has implications for the presence and formation mechanisms of jarosite observed on Mars.

    • Giovanni Baccolo
    • , Barbara Delmonte
    •  & Massimo Frezzotti
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ice arches that form along Nares Strait, which separates Greenland and Ellesmere Island, act to reduce the export of thick multi-year ice out of the Arctic. Here, we show that there has been a recent trend towards shorter duration arch formation that has resulted in enhanced transport of ice along the strait.

    • G. W. K. Moore
    • , S. E. L. Howell
    •  & K. McNeil
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The potential contribution of Greenland Ice Sheet to sea level rise in the future is known to be substantial. Here, the authors undertake new modelling showing that the Greenland Ice Sheet sea level rise contribution is 7.9 cm more using the CMIP6 SSP585 scenario compared to CMIP5 using multiple RCP8.5 simulations.

    • Stefan Hofer
    • , Charlotte Lang
    •  & Xavier Fettweis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Iceberg melting releases large volumes of freshwater in fjords, yet the impact on oceanic heat delivery to tidewater glaciers is unknown. Here the authors show that iceberg melting invigorates fjord circulation in a large, iceberg-congested fjord, thereby increasing oceanic heat delivery to its tidewater glaciers.

    • B. J. Davison
    • , T. R. Cowton
    •  & A. J. Sole
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Greenland Ice Sheet is the largest land ice contributor to sea level rise and understanding the long-term glacier response to external forcing is key to improved projections. Here the authors show Greenland’s three largest outlet glaciers will likely exceed current worst-case scenario

    • Shfaqat A. Khan
    • , Anders A. Bjørk
    •  & Toni Schenk
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Warming in the high latitudes is expected to stimulate soil organic matter decomposition which leads to enhanced carbon emissions. Here, the authors show that short-term experiments do not capture the complexity of vegetation dynamics in the Arctic and might thus not provide a full picture of long term processes.

    • Nicholas J. Bouskill
    • , William J. Riley
    •  & Robert F. Grant
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The disintegration of cryosphere elements such as the Arctic summer sea ice, mountain glaciers, Greenland and West Antarctica is associated with temperature and radiative feedbacks. In this work, the authors quantify these feedbacks and find an additional global warming of 0.43°C.

    • Nico Wunderling
    • , Matteo Willeit
    •  & Ricarda Winkelmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Carbon stored in the Arctic is threatened by climate change, but models do not capture the local-scale heterogeneity that influences carbon dynamics. Here the authors refine tundra models to account for heterogeneity, finding improved projections and decreased uncertainty in assessing the fate of carbon.

    • M. J. Lara
    • , A. D. McGuire
    •  & S. D. Wullschleger
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Svalbard glaciers are among the lowest ice masses in the Arctic, with a peak in glacier area below 450 m elevation. Using a high-resolution climate model, here the authors show that a modest warming in the mid-1980s propagated meltwater runoff above the glacier area peak, amplifying Svalbard mass loss from all elevations.

    • Brice Noël
    • , C. L. Jakobs
    •  & M. R. van den Broeke
  • Article
    | Open Access

    East Antarctic ice shelves typically have cold ice cavities with low basal melt rates. Here the authors direct observational evidence of high basal melt rates beneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica, driven by inflowing warm water guided by a deep continuous trough extending to the continental slope.

    • Daisuke Hirano
    • , Takeshi Tamura
    •  & Shigeru Aoki
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Dawn mission’s second extended phase provided high resolution observations of Occator crater of the dwarf planet Ceres. Here, the authors show stereo imaging and topographic maps of this crater revealing the influence of crustal composition on impact related melt and hydrothermal processes, and compare features to those on Mars, Earth and the Moon.

    • P. Schenk
    • , J. Scully
    •  & C. Raymond
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glaciers in the European Alps are strongly affected by global warming, yet there is no methodologically consistent alpine-wide analysis on glacier changes. Here the authors show significant glacier retreat and an ice mass loss of 1.3 ± 0.2 Gt a−1, derived from contemporaneous measurements of glacier areas and elevations.

    • Christian Sommer
    • , Philipp Malz
    •  & Matthias H. Braun
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Snow algae bloom along the coast of Antarctica and are likely to be biogeochemically important. Here, the authors produced the first map of such blooms, show that they are driven by warmer temperatures and proximity to birds and mammals, and are likely to increase given projected climate changes.

    • Andrew Gray
    • , Monika Krolikowski
    •  & Matthew P. Davey
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Rising temperatures in the Arctic can lead to the release of vast amounts of carbon stored in permafrost soils. Here the authors show that stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection geoengineering can help to avoid about 14 gigatons of carbon release and US$8.4 trillion in economic losses by 2070 compared to RCP4.5 emissions.

    • Yating Chen
    • , Aobo Liu
    •  & John C. Moore
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Siberian Arctic permafrost contains vast stores of carbon, the fate of which is dependent on the climate. Here the authors use models of future scenarios to show that under the direst climate changes up to 2/3 of the stored organic carbon could thaw.

    • Jan Nitzbon
    • , Sebastian Westermann
    •  & Julia Boike
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tidewater glaciers in fjords can advance/retreat independent of climate due to stabilization by sediments at their termini. We show that an Alaskan paleo-ice stream behaved similarly on an open shelf, suggesting that increased sediment flux may delay catastrophic retreat of outlet glaciers in a warming world.

    • Ellen A. Cowan
    • , Sarah D. Zellers
    •  & Stewart J. Fallon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The release of ancient carbon from thawing permafrost is thought to have an important impact on global biogeochemistry through positive feedbacks. Here Dean and colleagues show that in Siberian permafrost, warming could liberate more contemporary carbon relative to aged counterparts.

    • Joshua F. Dean
    • , Ove H. Meisel
    •  & A. Johannes Dolman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glaciers have profoundly shaped Earth’s surface, but glacial erosion models lack a strong empirical basis. Cook et al. have compiled a dataset that illustrates how the speed at which glaciers move controls the rate at which they erode, and that climate is crucial in modulating glacier sliding speed and erosion rates.

    • Simon J. Cook
    • , Darrel A. Swift
    •  & Richard I. Waller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The freshwater content of the Beaufort Gyre in the Western Arctic Ocean has increased in response to almost two decades of persistent anti-cyclonic winds. Here, the authors found that dramatic loss of sea ice and acceleration of surface currents after 2007 led to a net annual wind energy input to the Beaufort Gyre, and anticipate that continued sea ice decline will lead to an increasingly energetic Beaufort Gyre.

    • Thomas W. K. Armitage
    • , Georgy E. Manucharyan
    •  & Andrew F. Thompson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Cracks in Arctic sea ice (leads) are becoming more prevalent and widespread, yet studies regarding their impacts on clouds are limited. Here, contrary to the present understanding, diverse observations and modelling simulations show that higher leads concentrations do not necessarily result in more low clouds.

    • Xia Li
    • , Steven K. Krueger
    •  & Sally Benson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Suture zones are abundant on Antarctic ice shelves and widely observed to impede fracture propagation. Here we show that fracture detainment is principally controlled by the zones’ enhanced seawater contents, reducing fracture-driving stresses by orders of magnitude and therefore greatly enhancing stability.

    • Bernd Kulessa
    • , Adam D. Booth
    •  & Bryn Hubbard
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Snow cover can affect the Arctic sea-ice system in different ways. Here authors study the relationship between cyclone activity and the seasonal build-up of snow on Arctic sea ice at a multi-decadal and basin-wide scale and find that 44% of the variability in monthly snow accumulation was controlled by cyclone snowfall and 29% by sea-ice freeze-up with strong spatio-temporal differences.

    • M. A. Webster
    • , C. Parker
    •  & R. Kwok