Our work addresses key knowledge gaps in quantifying and predicting changes in Earth’s land and sea ice cover. These issues are of scientific, environmental and societal importance because they reflect what’s happening to, and drive high-impact changes within, the global climate system.
In the past, and over thousands of years, changes in climate have triggered ice sheet contributions to global sea level rise of above of 10 mm/yr. Although satellite observations show that ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland have increased, models of the processes responsible are not yet included in global climate projections.
Declining Arctic sea ice cover can meanwhile increase warming with global consequences, including increased ice sheet melting, reduced snow cover, permafrost degradation, changes in marine ecology, and altered weather patterns and ocean circulation. This in turn can further reduce the sea ice.
Despite our ability to monitor trends in Arctic warming and sea ice loss, climate models still struggle to reproduce the reduction in sea ice cover- in part because key physical interactions are not well represented.
All of this means there is a strong need to both tracking key cryosphere parameters in satellite data – including measuring the extent and thickness of sea ice, and the thickness, flow, mass and grounded extent of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets – and to use these observations to improve our understanding of present and future environmental change.