The cryosphere – frozen precipitation, snow cover, sea ice, lake and river ice, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, permafrost and seasonally frozen ground – is a critically important component of the Arctic Climate System. Global climate, water and weather as well as other environmental areas are also highly influenced by the cryosphere. It is a major indicator of global climate change and plays a fundamental role in Earth’s climate system. The WMO Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW), initiated in 2011, provides authoritative information on present, future and past states of the world’s snow and ice resources.
The cryosphere is the key to providing climate services in the Arctic region where climate prediction skills are currently severely limited and require substantial additional research. Existing climate products and services – sea-ice monitoring, satellite observations of ice extent and specialized predictions – have to be operationalized and brought to proper application. A cohesive and integrated effort to observe, monitor, assess and predict the state of the cryosphere is needed. And this effort has to be underpinned by coherent and coordinated research and product development. The Global Cryosphere Watch must gain an understanding of users’ needs for climate information in the Arctic Region in order to address them. Activities will also have to be coordinated at regional, national and local levels to cover the requirements of northern communities and indigenous peoples.
In this project WMO facilitates effective interactions between experts on climate modelling from the circumpolar regions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), and providers of land, satellite and marine observations, climate services, climate risk management, user communities and other stakeholders with the goal to promote research and capacity development towards effective climate services for the polar region.
This project is part of the programme for Implementing the Global Framework for Climate Services at Regional and National Scales