Cryosphere, Modeling of



The global cryosphere encompasses snow and ice in all its forms in the natural environment, including glaciers and ice sheets, sea ice, lake and river ice, permafrost, seasonal snow, and ice crystals in the atmosphere.


Global Climate Model Geothermal Heat Flux Subglacial Sediment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Snow and ice removed from an ice mass via meltwater runoff, sublimation, wind scour, or glacial calving (mechanical fracturing and separation).


Increase in ice mass by basal growth in the case of floating ice, the compression of snow into ice, or freezing of water that has pooled on the ice or percolated into snow from rain, meltwater, or flooding of sea/lake/river water.


Snow and ice added to an ice mass via snowfall, frost deposition, rainfall that freezes on/in the ice mass, refrozen meltwater, wind-blown snow deposition, and avalanching.


A perennial terrestrial ice mass that shows evidence of motion/deformation under gravity.

Grounding line

The transition zone between grounded and floating ice.

Ice sheet

A large (i.e., continental-scale) dome of glacier ice that overwhelms the local bedrock topography, with the ice flow direction governed by the shape of the ice cap itself.

Ice shelf

Glacier ice that has flowed into an ocean or lake and is floating, no longer supported by the bed.


A sheet of glacier ice in an alpine environment in which the ice is not thick enough to overwhelm the local bedrock topography, but is draped over and around it; glacier flow directions in an icefield are dictated by the bed topography.

Lake/river ice

Floating ice on rivers or lakes, usually freshwater ice.

Mass balance

The overall gain or loss of mass for a component of the cryosphere over a specified time interval, typically 1 year. This can be expressed as a rate of change of mass (kg year−1), ice volume (m3 year−1), or water-equivalent volume (m3 w.eq. year−1). It is also common to express this as the area-averaged rate of change or the specific mass balance rate, with units of kg m−2 year−1 or m w.eq. year−1.


Perennially frozen ground, technically defined as ground that is at or below 0°C for at least 2 years.

Sea ice

Floating ice from frozen seawater.


Ice-crystal precipitation that accumulates on the surface.

Soil ice

Ice in permafrost.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Sciences DepartmentUniversity of Washington, Atmospheric SciencesSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Earth SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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