Cryosphere – Present and future:
In the global climate system the cryosphere and its individual components, i.e. snow, sea ice, lake and river ice, ice sheets, glaciers and permafrost, have a significant impact on the global energy budget and on interactions at the interfaces between land surfaces, oceans and atmosphere.
This is due to the specific physical properties of the cryosphere, e.g. the ice-albedo feedback, and its huge areal extent. The amount of water stored in the cryosphere is of immense importance for the global water budget. Numerous international scientific programs aim at investigating changes in the extent of Arctic sea-ice, in particular, as well as ice sheets, in the light of global climate change.
Besides in-situ observations and remote sensing techniques, numerical models facilitate a detailed insight into cryosphere processes and interactions. Current fields of research mainly focus on an identification of interactions between the cryosphere and the global climate system, polar ecosystems and the improvement of predictions for future changes in the cryosphere.