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Quick facts about the Cryosphere (National Snow and Ice Data Center)
Cyrosphere (National Ocean Service, NOAA)


ice : a sheet or stretch of ice — Webster

OneLook, Free Dictionary, Wiktionary


Ice is water frozen into a solid state. Depending on the presence of impurities such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less opaque bluish-white color.

In the Solar System, ice is abundant and occurs naturally from as close to the Sun as Mercury to as far away as the Oort cloud objects. Beyond the Solar System, it occurs as interstellar ice. It is abundant on Earth’s surface – particularly in the polar regions and above the snow line – and, as a common form of precipitation and deposition, plays a key role in Earth’s water cycle and climate. It falls as snowflakes and hail or occurs as frost, icicles or — Wikipedia

Cryosphere consists of those portions of Earth’s surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, and frozen ground (which includes permafrost). Thus, there is a wide overlap with the hydrosphere. The cryosphere is an integral part of the global climate system with important linkages and feedbacks generated through its influence on surface energy and moisture fluxes, clouds, precipitation, hydrology, atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Through these feedback processes, the cryosphere plays a significant role in the global climate and in climate model response to global changes. The term deglaciation describes the retreat of cryospheric features. — Wikipedia

Glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight; it forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries. Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water.

On Earth, 99% of glacial ice is contained within vast ice sheets (also known as “continental glaciers”) in the polar regions, but glaciers may be found in mountain ranges on every continent including Oceania’s high-latitude oceanic islands such as New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Between 35°N and 35°S, glaciers occur only in the Himalayas, Andes, Rocky Mountains, a few high mountains in East Africa, Mexico, New Guinea and on Zard Kuh in Iran. Glaciers cover about 10 percent of Earth’s land surface. Continental glaciers cover nearly 13 million km2 (5 million sq mi) or about 98 percent of Antarctica’s 13.2 million km2 (5.1 million sq mi), with an average thickness of 2,100 m (7,000 ft). Greenland and Patagonia also have huge expanses of continental glaciers.

Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth. Many glaciers from temperate, alpine and seasonal polar climates store water as ice during the colder seasons and release it later in the form of meltwater as warmer summer temperatures cause the glacier to melt, creating a water source that is especially important for plants, animals and human uses when other sources may be scant. Within high-altitude and Antarctic environments, the seasonal temperature difference is often not sufficient to release meltwater. — Wikipedia


National Snow Ice Data Center



Cryospheric Animations (NASA Scientific Visualization Studio)




Why does our planet experience an ice age every 100,000 years? (Cardiff University,


Ancient ice reveals vital clues about Earth’s past climate (Dan Elliott,
National Ice Core Facility (National Science Foundation)


WorldCat, Library of Congress, UPenn Online Books, Open Library





OER Commons: Open Educational Resources



The Cryosphere Journal (European Geosciences Union)
National Snow Ice Data Center,




IceBridge Mission (NASA)
Operation IceBridge (Wikipedia)





Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (Saariselka, Finland)

Hôtel de Glace (Quebec City, Canada)
Icehotel, Sweden (Jukkasjärvi, Sweden)



Photographing Frozen Baikal: The Deepest and Oldest Lake On Earth (Kristina Makeeva, Petapixel)



Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis Sea ice data updated daily with one-day lag

  • Springtime in the Arctic
    by Audrey Payne on May 3, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    Arctic spring melt has begun. Ice extent declined most substantially in the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. Overall decline was slower than average through the month. Overview of conditions Average Arctic sea ice extent for April 2022 was … Continue reading →

  • Spring in fits and starts
    by Agnieszka Gautier on April 5, 2022 at 6:10 pm

    After reaching its seasonal maximum extent of 14.88 million square kilometers (5.75 million square miles) on February 25, the seasonal decline in Arctic sea ice extent through March proceeded in fits and starts. By the end of the month, extent … Continue reading →

  • Arctic sea ice maximum at tenth lowest in...
    by Agnieszka Gautier on March 22, 2022 at 3:00 pm

    Arctic sea ice has likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.88 million square kilometers (5.75 million square miles) on February 25. The 2022 maximum is the tenth lowest in the 44-year satellite record. On the same day, … Continue reading →

  • Arctic sea ice approaches maximum; record low...
    by Audrey Payne on March 8, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    Arctic sea ice is approaching its seasonal peak, with below-average sea ice extent in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, but near-average ice extent elsewhere. Antarctic sea ice extent set a record low minimum for the satellite data … Continue reading →

  • Arctic sea ice this January: so last decade
    by Agnieszka Gautier on February 3, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    While January began with sea ice extent below average, by the end of the month, extent increased. January 2022 finished as the sixteenth lowest extent in the satellite record above all years since 2009. This illustrates the large natural variability in sea … Continue reading → - latest science and technology news stories internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • Space agencies provide global view of our...
    on May 20, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, ESA, NASA and JAXA worked closely together to create an open-source platform, based on the Euro Data Cube, that used a wealth of data from Earth-observing satellites to document the worldwide changes happening to our society and the environment. Now, the COVID-19 Earth Observing Dashboard has been expanded to contain six new focus areas which offers a precise, objective and comprehensive view of our planet.

  • Microplastics threaten typical remote cryospheric...
    on May 19, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Microplastics usually refer to plastic fibers, films, fragments, and microbes with size less than five millimeters. They are widely distributed in water, soil, sediment, the atmosphere, and even snow and ice, which impacts Earth's climate and environment.

  • Four climate change records broken in 2021: WMO...
    on May 18, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    Four key climate change indicators—greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification—set new records in 2021. This is yet another clear sign that human activities are causing planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean, and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for sustainable development and ecosystems, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

  • Model pinpoints glaciers at risk of collapse due...
    on April 28, 2022 at 5:38 pm

    As climate change warms the planet, glaciers are melting faster, and scientists fear that many will collapse by the end of the century, drastically raising sea level and inundating coastal cities and island nations.

  • Climate dynamics must be considered to achieve...
    on April 11, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    The target of carbon neutrality is an integrated and extremely complex issue that is widely associated with climate, ecology, energy, environment, and society. It results from interactions of multiple systems, such as land, atmosphere, ocean, and cryosphere. Among these systems, climate is one of the most important.

TC - recent papers Combined list of the recent articles of the journal The Cryosphere and the recent discussion forum The Cryosphere Discussions

  • Impacts of snow assimilation on seasonal snow and...
    on May 23, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Impacts of snow assimilation on seasonal snow and meteorological forecasts for the Tibetan Plateau Wei Li, Jie Chen, Lu Li, Yvan J. Orsolini, Yiheng Xiang, Retish Senan, and Patricia de Rosnay The Cryosphere Discuss., https//,2022Preprint under review for TC (discussion: open, 0 comments) Snow assimilation above 1500 m over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) will influence seasonal forecasts over this region. To […]

  • Snowmelt Characterization from Optical and...
    on May 23, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Snowmelt Characterization from Optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar Observations in the Lajoie Basin, British Columbia Sara E. Darychuk, Joseph M. Shea, Brian Menounos, Anna Chesnokova, Georg Jost, and Frank Weber The Cryosphere Discuss., https//,2022Preprint under review for TC (discussion: open, 0 comments) We use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and optical observations to map snowmelt timing and […]

  • Flexural and compressive strength of the landfast...
    on May 20, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Flexural and compressive strength of the landfast sea ice in the Prydz Bay, East Antarctic Qingkai Wang, Zhaoquan Li, Peng Lu, Yigang Xu, and Zhijun Li The Cryosphere, 16, 1941–1961,, 2022 A large area of landfast sea ice exists in the Prydz Bay, and it is always a safety concern to transport cargos on ice to the research stations. Knowing the mechanical properties of sea ice is helpful […]

  • Shear-margin melting causes stronger transient...
    on May 20, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Shear-margin melting causes stronger transient ice discharge than ice-stream melting in idealized simulations Johannes Feldmann, Ronja Reese, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Anders Levermann The Cryosphere, 16, 1927–1940,, 2022 We use a numerical model to simulate the flow of a simplified, buttressed Antarctic-type outlet glacier with an attached ice shelf. We find that after a few years of […]

  • Spectral induced polarization imaging to...
    on May 20, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Spectral induced polarization imaging to investigate an ice-rich mountain permafrost site in Switzerland Theresa Maierhofer, Christian Hauck, Christin Hilbich, Andreas Kemna, and Adrián Flores-Orozco The Cryosphere, 16, 1903–1925,, 2022 We extend the application of electrical methods to characterize alpine permafrost using the so-called induced polarization (IP) effect associated with […]


Here are links to pages about closely related subjects.

Knowledge Realm


Sphere Land, Ice, Water (Ocean), Air
Ecosystem Forest, Grassland, Desert, Arctic, Aquatic

Life Cell, Gene, Tree of Life
Plant Flower, Tree
Invertebrate Cuttlefish, Octopus, Ant, Bee, Butterfly, Spider, Lobster
Vertebrate Fish, Seahorse, Ray, Shark, Frog, Turtle, Tortoise, Dinosaur
Bird, Ostrich, Owl, Crow, Parrot
Mammal Bat, Rabbit, Giraffe, Camel, Horse, Elephant, Mammoth
Whale, Dolphin, Walrus, Seal, Polar Bear, Bear, Cat, Tiger, Lion, Dog, Wolf
Monkey, Chimpanzee, Human


1.   The resources on this page are are organized by a classification scheme developed exclusively for Cosma.