The Role of Snow & Ice in the Climate System
University of Colorado
October 13th, 2016
Global snow and ice cover (the "cryosphere") plays a major role in global climate and hydrology through a range of complex interactions and feedbacks, the best known of which is the ice - albedo feedback. Snow and ice cover undergo marked seasonal and long term changes in extent and thickness. The perennial elements - the major ice sheets and permafrost - play a role in present-day regional and local climate and hydrology, but the large seasonal variations in snow cover and sea ice are of importance on continental to hemispheric scales. The characteristics of these variations, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, and evidence for recent trends in snow and sea ice extent are discussed.