The term "cryosphere" describes those portions of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form. This includes all kinds of ice and
snow and frozen ground such as permafrost. The cryosphere is an important part of the global climate system. It is strongly influenced by temperature,
solar radiation and precipitation, and, in turn, influences each of these properties. It also has an effect on the exchange of heat and moisture
between the Earth's surface (land or sea) and the atmosphere, on clouds, on river flow (hydrology), and on atmospheric and oceanic circulation.
Parts of the cryosphere are strongly influenced by changes in climate. The cryosphere may therefore act as an early indicator of both natural and
human-induced climate changes.
Get more detailed information about the cryosphere from the National Snow and Ice Data Center website.
As a core project of the World Climate Research Programme, the "Climate and Cryosphere" (CliC) project encourages and promotes research
into the cryosphere and its interactions as part of the global climate system. It seeks to focus attention on the most important issues, encourage
communication between researchers with common interests in cryospheric and climate science, promote international co-operation, and highlight the
importance of this field of science to policy makers, funding agencies, and the general public. CliC also publicises significant findings regarding
the role of the cryosphere in climate, and recommends directions for future study.
CliC aims to improve understanding of the cryosphere and its interactions with the global climate system, and to enhance the ability to use parts
of the cryosphere for detection of climate change. The principal goal of CliC is to:
Assess and quantify the impacts of climatic variability and change on components of the cryosphere and their consequences for the
climate system, and determine the stability of the global cryosphere.
In order to achieve this goal CliC has the supporting objectives to:
- Enhance the observation and monitoring of the cryosphere in support of process studies, model evaluation, and change detection.
- Improve understanding of the physical processes and feedbacks through which the cryosphere interacts within the climate system.
- Improve the representation of cryospheric processes in models to reduce uncertainties in simulations of climate and predictions of climate change.
To attain these goals, CliC seeks to develop and coordinate national and international activities aimed at increasing the understanding of
four main scientific themes:
- Interactions between the atmosphere and snow and ice on the land surface.
- Interactions between glaciers and ice sheets and sea level.
- Interactions between sea ice, oceans, and the atmosphere.
- Interactions of the cryosphere with the atmosphere and oceans on a global scale.
CliC encourages the use of observations, process studies and numerical modelling within each of the above topic areas.
In addition, CliC promotes the establishment of new cryospheric monitoring programmes.
CliC activities include:
- Initiating and organizing conferences and workshops.
- Initiating and organizing coordinated scientific experiments, such as cruises, process studies, model intercomparisons, etc.
- Coordinating proposals to funding agencies and providers of logistic support.
- Promoting projects to recover, archive, and distribute historic data sets.
- Promoting the free exchange of data relating to the cryosphere and its role in climate.
- Supporting a web-based data and information service.
- Publication of a newsletter, articles, and reports.
A Scientific Steering Group (SSG) and a number of working panels that advise on specific areas of research coordinate CliC activities.
These include a Numerical Experimentation Group (modelling), and Observation Products Panel (in situ and remote-sensing measurements); a
Panel on Products from Reanalysis (meteorological analysis); and a Data Management and Information Panel (data recovery, storage and distribution).
The International ACSYS/CliC Project Office, located in Tromsø, Norway, supports these groups and the other CliC activities.
CliC encourages participation in the project by all scientists with an interest in climate and the cryosphere. Anyone
interested in becoming involved in CliC, or who would like more information about the project, should contact the project office:
CliC International Project Office
Norwegian Polar Institute
The Polar Environmental Centre
NO-9296 Tromsø, Norway
Tel: +47 77 75 01 45
Fax: +47 77 75 05 01