The cryosphere consists of the regions covered by snow or ice, whether land or sea. Including Antarctica, the Arctic Ocean, Greenland, Northern Canada, Northern Siberia and most of the highest peaks of mountain ranges.
The cryosphere plays an important role in regulating global climate.
The snow and ice have a high albedo, therefore, parts of the Antarctic reflect up to 90% of incident solar radiation, compared to the overall average of 31%. Without the cryosphere, the overall albedo would be considerably lower. More energy would be absorbed at the earth’s surface and consequently, the air temperature would be higher.
The cryopsphere also has a role in disconnecting the atmosphere with the oceans, reducing moisture transfer and momentum. It stabilizes the transfer of energy into the atmosphere. Finally, its presence markedly affects the volume of the oceans and global sea levels. Changes in the cryosphere can affect the energy budget of the climate.
Greenland could melt completely and irreversibly if global warming reached the 1.6 degrees Celsius, according to a study by the University Complutense of Madrid (UCM) and the Potsdam Institute in Germany. The research, conducted by the Department of Physics of the Earth II and of the UCM and scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, confirms that the polar cap is more vulnerable to global warming than than previously thought.
This research used computer simulations of the ice in this region and its climate, calculating the evolution of the island during previous glacial cycles and the future of ice. Therefore, this new estimate of the critical temperature threshold for the survival of the island is more reliable than before.
Until now, there was talk of an increase of 3.1 degrees
According to the study, global warming is now 0.8 degrees Celsius higher than the temperature in the preindustrial levels. So far, previous studies placed the melting of Greenland in an increase in temperature in the vicinity of 3.1 degrees.
Impact: An increase in sea level
Also, the study notes that, although the weather returned to its pre-industrial state, melting prevents new growth above the polar cap on the island. According to studio estimates, the melting Greenland ice could contribute to sea level rise of several meters, which affect millions of people living in coastal regions.