Ice in the Climate System

  • Ralf Greve
  • Heinz Blatter
Part of the Advances in Geophysical and Environmental Mechanics and Mathematics book series (AGEM)


The frozen part of the terrestrial climate system is referred to as the cryosphere. The cryosphere consists of several subsystems, namely ice sheets, ice shelves, ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, lake ice, river ice, ground ice and snow. Ice sheets are ice masses of continental size (area greater than 50,000 km2) which rest on solid land, whereas ice shelves consist of floating ice nourished by the inflow from an adjacent ice sheet, typically stabilised by large bays. Extended land-based masses of ice covering less than 50,000 km2 are termed ice caps, and smaller ice masses constrained by topographical features (for instance a mountain valley) are called glaciers. Sea ice floats on the ocean; however, in contrast to an ice shelf it forms directly by freezing sea water.


North Atlantic Deep Water Surface Mass Balance Terrestrial Water Storage Ocean Thermal Expansion Terrestrial Climate System 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralf Greve
    • 1
  • Heinz Blatter
    • 2
  1. 1.Inst. Low Temperature ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Inst. Atmospheric & Climate ScienceETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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