DISCLAIMER: This article is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at last review, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information.
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
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
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.
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information