AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

New research – climate change impacts on cryosphere (August 31, 2016)

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on August 31, 2016

Some of the latest papers on climate change impacts on cryosphere are shown below. First a few highlighted papers with abstracts and then a list of some other papers. If this subject interests you, be sure to check also the other papers – they are by no means less interesting than the highlighted ones.


Rapid glacial retreat on the Kamchatka Peninsula during the early 21st century (Lynch et al. 2016)

Abstract: Monitoring glacier fluctuations provides insights into changing glacial environments and recent climate change. The availability of satellite imagery offers the opportunity to view these changes for remote and inaccessible regions. Gaining an understanding of the ongoing changes in such regions is vital if a complete picture of glacial fluctuations globally is to be established. Here, satellite imagery (Landsat 7, 8 and ASTER) is used to conduct a multi-annual remote sensing survey of glacier fluctuations on the Kamchatka Peninsula (eastern Russia) over the 2000–2014 period. Glacier margins were digitised manually and reveal that, in 2000, the peninsula was occupied by 673 glaciers, with a total glacier surface area of 775.7 ± 27.9 km2. By 2014, the number of glaciers had increased to 738 (reflecting the fragmentation of larger glaciers), but their surface area had decreased to 592.9 ± 20.4 km2. This represents a  ∼  24 % decline in total glacier surface area between 2000 and 2014 and a notable acceleration in the rate of area loss since the late 20th century. Analysis of possible controls indicates that these glacier fluctuations were likely governed by variations in climate (particularly rising summer temperatures), though the response of individual glaciers was modulated by other (non-climatic) factors, principally glacier size, local shading and debris cover.

How predictable is the timing of a summer ice-free Arctic? (Jahn et al. 2016)

Abstract: Climate Model simulations give a large range of over 100 years for predictions of when the Arctic could first become ice-free in the summer, and many studies have attempted to narrow this uncertainty range. However, given the chaotic nature of the climate system, what amount of spread in the prediction of an ice-free summer Arctic is inevitable? Based on results from large ensemble simulations with the Community Earth System Model, we show that internal variability alone leads to a prediction uncertainty of about two decades, while scenario uncertainty between the strong (RCP8.5) and medium (RCP4.5) forcing scenarios adds at least another 5 years. Common metrics of the past and present mean sea ice state (such as ice extent, volume, and thickness) as well as global mean temperatures do not allow a reduction of the prediction uncertainty from internal variability.

Satellite observed changes in the Northern Hemisphere snow cover phenology and the associated radiative forcing and feedback between 1982 and 2013 (Chen et al. 2016)

Abstract: Quantifying continental-scale changes in snow cover phenology (SCP) and evaluating their associated radiative forcing and feedback is essential for meteorological, hydrological, ecological, and societal purposes. However, the current SCP research is inadequate because few published studies have explored the long-term changes in SCP, as well as their associated radiative forcing and feedback in the context of global warming. Based on satellite-observed snow cover extent (SCE) and land surface albedo datasets, and using a radiative kernel modeling method, this study quantified changes in SCP and the associated radiative forcing and feedback over the Northern Hemisphere (NH) snow-covered landmass from 1982 to 2013. The monthly SCE anomaly over the NH displayed a significant decreasing trend from May to August (−0.89 × 106 km2 decade−1), while an increasing trend from November to February (0.65 × 106 km2 decade−1) over that period. The changes in SCE resulted in corresponding anomalies in SCP. The snow onset date (Do) moved forward slightly, but the snow end date (De) advanced significantly at the rate of 1.91 days decade−1, with a 73% contribution from decreased SCE in Eurasia (EU). The anomalies in De resulted in a weakened snow radiative forcing of 0.12 (±0.003) W m−2 and feedback of 0.21 (±0.005) W m−2 K−1, in melting season, over the NH, from 1982 to 2013. Compared with the SCP changes in EU, the SCP anomalies in North America were relatively stable because of the clearly contrasting De anomalies between the mid- and high latitudes in this region.

Grounding Line Variability and Subglacial Lake Drainage on Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica (Joughin et al. 2016)

Abstract: We produced a 6-year time series of differential tidal displacement for Pine Island Ice Shelf, Antarctica, using speckle-tracking methods applied to fine-resolution TerraSAR-X data. These results reveal that the main grounding line has maintained a relatively steady position over the last 6 years, following the speedup that terminated in ~2009. In the middle of the shelf, there are grounded spots that migrate downstream over the 6-year record. Examination of high-resolution DEMs reveals that these grounded spots form where deep keels (thickness anomalies) advect over an approximately flow-parallel bathymetric high, maintaining intermittent contact with the bed. These datasets also reveal several subsidence and uplift events associated with subglacial lake drainages in the fast-flowing region above the grounding line. Although these drainages approximately double the rate of subglacial water flow over periods of a few weeks, they have no discernible effect on horizontal flow speed.

Influences of surface air temperature and atmospheric circulation on winter snow cover variability over Europe (Ye & Lau, 2016)

Abstract: The relationships between snow cover (SC) variability in Europe, the local surface air temperature (SAT), and the associated atmospheric circulation changes are studied. This investigation indicates that the European winter SC is closely correlated with SAT. Higher (lower) SC is coincident with strong and large-scale surface cooling (warming). Similar but weaker temperature signals are observed in the middle and upper troposphere. Periods of enhanced (reduced) SC are characterized by surface heat loss (gain), partly due to dampened (enhanced) sensible heat fluxes towards the ground surface, which is in turn related to the lower (higher) SAT. Higher (lower) SC is also accompanied by reduced (enhanced) downward longwave irradiance. Consistent with previous studies, our analysis demonstrates that variations in the atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic/European sector, including those associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation, are accompanied by changes in horizontal heat advection and SC over Europe. The circulation changes modulate the water vapour transport towards the European continent, and thereby influence the available water vapour there and lead to fluctuations in downward longwave irradiance and cloud cover. The wind anomalies associated with these variations also drive surface heat flux changes in the North Atlantic, which in turn lead to well-defined sea surface temperature (SST) tendencies. The above characteristic patterns exhibit notable variability in different calendar months of the winter season. The monthly averaged circulation anomalies are evidently related to changes in the tracks of atmospheric disturbances with synoptic time scales. Overall, there is no strong evidence supporting a principal role for the North Atlantic SST or the El Niño Southern Oscillation in driving inter-annual SC variability over Europe.

Other papers

Anthropogenic impact on Antarctic surface mass balance, currently masked by natural variability, to emerge by mid-century (Previdi & Polvani, 2016)

Reduced melt on debris-covered glaciers: investigations from Changri Nup Glacier, Nepal (Vincent et al. 2016)

Increasing water vapor transport to the Greenland Ice Sheet revealed using self-organizing maps (Mattingly et al. 2016)

Fine-scale spatial variation in ice cover and surface temperature trends across the surface of the Laurentian Great Lakes (Mason et al. 2016)

On the feedback of the winter NAO-driven sea ice anomalies (García-Serrano & Frankignoul, 2016)

Estimation of melt pond fraction over high-concentration Arctic sea ice using AMSR-E passive microwave data (Tanaka et al. 2016)

A simple equation for the melt elevation feedback of ice sheets (Levermann & Winkelmann, 2016)

Hail climatology and trends in Romania: 1961-2014 (Burcea et al. 2016)

Influence of the Eurasian snow on the negative North Atlantic Oscillation in subseasonal forecasts of the cold winter 2009/2010 (Orsolini et al. 2016)

Annual Greenland accumulation rates (2009–2012) from airborne snow radar (Koenig et al. 2016)

Ice-margin and meltwater dynamics during the mid-Holocene in the Kangerlussuaq area of west Greenland (Carrivick et al. 2016)

The robustness of mid-latitude weather pattern changes due to Arctic sea-ice loss (Chen et al. 2016)

Arctic Sea Ice Seasonal Prediction by a Linear Markov Model (Yuan et al. 2016)

Testing the recent snow drought as an analog for climate warming sensitivity of Cascades snowpacks (Cooper et al. 2016)

Summer Atmospheric Circulation Anomalies over the Arctic Ocean and Their Influences on September Sea Ice Extent: A Cautionary Tale (Serreze et al. 2016)

The abandoned ice sheet base at Camp Century, Greenland, in a warming climate (Colgan et al. 2016)

Thermal impacts of engineering activities and vegetation layer on permafrost in different alpine ecosystems of the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau, China (Wu et al. 2016)

Greenland annual accumulation along the EGIG line, 1959–2004, from ASIRAS airborne radar and neutron-probe density measurements (Overly et al. 2016)

Attribution of spring snow water equivalent (SWE) changes over the northern hemisphere to anthropogenic effects (Jeong et al. 2016)

Historical analysis and visualization of the retreat of Findelengletscher, Switzerland, 1859-2010 (Rastner et al. 2016)

Observed spatio-temporal changes of winter snow albedo over the north-west Himalaya (Negi et al. 2016)

An evaluation of high-resolution regional climate model simulations of snow cover and albedo over the Rocky Mountains, with implications for the simulated snow-albedo feedback (Minder et al. 2016)

Statistical indicators of Arctic sea-ice stability – prospects and limitations (Bathiany et al. 2016)

Effects of stratified active layers on high-altitude permafrost warming: a case study on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (Pan et al. 2016)

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