Cryosphere and climate
Barry, Roger G. National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.
- Climatic roles of snow and ice
- Seasonal variations
- Long-term relationships
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The term cryosphere is derived from the Greek word krios meaning icy cold. It was first proposed in 1923 by the Polish scientist A. Dobrowolski to designate all terrestrial forms of snow and ice, but only came into widespread use in the 1990s. The major components of the cryosphere—snow cover, sea ice, and ice sheets—play a significant role in global climate, while glaciers, lake ice, and perennially frozen ground (permafrost) play more local roles. Seasonal snow cover accounts for up to 49% of the Northern Hemisphere land area and seasonally frozen ground up to 55%. The time scales of these same components also vary widely; seasonally frozen ground, snow cover, and floating ice last weeks to months, although some Arctic sea ice persists for several years. Glaciers have a life span of 102–104 years, while ice sheets and permafrost have time scales of 20,000 to millions of years.
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