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Cryosphere and Climate Change



  Apr 16, 2024

Cryosphere and Climate Change



Key Points

The Cryosphere: Earth's frozen regions (ice sheets, sea ice, permafrost, glaciers, etc.) are highly sensitive to global temperature changes.

● Climate Change Impact: Even a 1.5°C rise will drastically melt glaciers, reduce sea ice, and thaw permafrost (releasing more greenhouse gases).

● Dire Consequences at 2°C: Tropical glaciers will disappear, and sea ice could become absent for months. Sea levels will rise dramatically due to ice sheet melting.

● Urgent Action Needed: The world must limit warming to 1.5°C to save the cryosphere. Current commitments at COP conferences are insufficient.


The Cryosphere and Climate Change


Q: What exactly is the cryosphere, and why is it important?

A: The cryosphere includes all the ice and frozen ground on Earth: glaciers, ice sheets, sea ice, snow cover, and permafrost. It plays a crucial role in:

● Regulating global temperatures: Reflecting sunlight back into space

● Storing freshwater: Vital for drinking water and agriculture

● Supporting unique ecosystems: Home to diverse wildlife


Q: How does even a small temperature increase (1.5°C or 2°C) impact the cryosphere so severely?

A: Ice melts at a specific temperature (0 °C). Even small increases push us closer to that threshold. A few degrees can mean the difference between staying frozen and large-scale melting.


Q: What are the effects of melting glaciers and sea ice?

A:● Sea level rise: Threatening coastal cities and low-lying areas

  ● Less freshwater: Water supplies diminish, especially during the dry season.

  ● Disrupted ocean currents: Altering weather patterns globally


Q: You mentioned permafrost. What are the specific dangers of it thawing?

A: Permafrost contains massive amounts of trapped carbon (from decayed organic matter). When it thaws, this carbon is released as methane and CO2, further accelerating climate change. This creates a dangerous feedback loop.


Q: The article states 2°C is "too high." What actions can we take to limit warming to 1.5°C?

A: Urgent steps are needed:

● Drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions: Switch to renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transportation

● Invest in carbon capture technologies: Though still developing, they could remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

● Protect natural carbon sinks: Restore forests and wetlands that absorb carbon.



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