Ice plays an important role in global environmental cycles. Knowledge about changes in the thickness of the ice is important in efforts to understand more about climate change in the Arctic and Antarctica.
A glacier's mass balance could be compared to a bank account, where the balance is the result of deposits and withdrawals. Deposits – the accumulation on a glacier or ice sheet – come in the form of snow. If all the ice in Antarctica were to melt, it would raise the global sea level by 65 metres. Changes in total ice volume are therefore of great interest. An important aspect of glaciological research is to study changes in accumulation, as this may have implications for the total mass balance in Antarctica. Mass balance is an overall climate signal, influenced mainly by winter precipitation and summer temperatures.
A warmer climate in the polar regions will most likely bring more precipitation, which means that snowfall and snow cover – which translate to accumulation on glaciers – would play an increasingly important role. The mass balance of glaciers, including those in Svalbard and Greenland, is particularly interesting, because when they melt they influence not only sea level, but also living conditions, salinity and temperature in the ocean. Melting of these glaciers may even influence ocean currents.
High-altitude glaciers all around the world are sensitive to climate change. The effects of global warming – melting glaciers and thawing permafrost – can be seen in many of the world's mountainous regions. Changes in these glaciers will have major social and economic impact on people's lives. When the glaciers melt, there may be perturbing effects on water supply, hydroelectric power and tourism in the areas affected.
Norsk Polarinstitutt studerer isbreenes masse og utbredelse, og hvordan klimaendringer påvirker dem fra år til år. Gamle islag i breer kan også brukes som klimaarkiv, og som indikatorer på utbredelsen av miljøgifter.
- Arctic climate system study of ocean, sea ice and glaciers interactions in Svalbard area
- Physiological effects of plastic loading in northern fulmars, Fulmarus glacialis: A comparative study of colonies across a range of latitudes
- Sensitivity of Svalbard glaciers to climate change (SvalGlac)
Latest articles on glaciers
New ESA satellite takes its very first image over Austfonna, Svalbard
Only 2 hours after switching on the radar on ESA’s newly launched satellite, Sentinel-1B, gave the scoop of its very first image to Svalbard by imaging the ice cap Austfonna and the island Edgeøya in great detail.
New executive director of Climate and Cryosphere Project (CliC)
Lawrence Hislop has been appointed as the new Executive Director of CliC.
Workshop about taking the next step to the snow research
The main idea of this workshop was to bring mostly early career and young researchers focusing on different thematics related to snow: physic, chemistry, microbiology and glaciology.