How do we study the cryosphere?

Who is interested in the CRYOSPHERE?

People generally think of the cryosphere as a remote part of the climate system, however, glaciers exist on all the continents of the Earth except Australia, and snow affects most regions outside of the topics and subtropics. Thus, the people who live near glaciers and people who live near the coast where the ocean water freezes into sea ice are concerned with understanding the cryosphere, because it affects how they plan their day to day lives. In addition, scientists are interested in the cryosphere because of the important role that it plays in shaping the climate of the Earth. The scientists who are most interested in the cryosphere are climatologists and glaciologists.

Climatologists know that ice sheets contain a lot of information about the history of the climate over long periods of time. They drill cores of ice from ice sheets and measure how various things, such as the composition of the atmosphere, dust, snowfall amounts, electrical conductivity, and change with depth, have changed over time. Climatologists hope this will give them clues how climate may change in the future.

Glaciologists are scientists who are mainly interested in how ice sheets, glaciers, and sea ice form, evolve, and decay. They study individual glaciers or regions of ice very closely to determine how they might change. For example, glaciologists can determine how much water builds up at the bottom of an ice sheet or glacier. When a lot of water builds up, the ice sheet or glacier can surge forward moving about 10 times as fast as it normally would. This could have a significant impact on towns located near glaciers, so glaciologists try to learn enough about particular glaciers to help them predict what they will do, allowing people to prepare for changes.

In addition to the scientists and people who live close to features of the cryosphere, there are many other people who are interested in the cryosphere because of the unique remote environment it provides, whether for sport, for the exploitation of natural resources, art, or simply wonder.

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