As the climate warms, the inevitable response of the cryosphere is enhanced melting. This has had and will continue to have profound global consequences.  The paper Cryosphere in a Changing Climate: A Grand Challenge of Climate Science (Kattsov et al. 2010) provided the motivation of WCRP for a range of targeted efforts aimed at improving our understanding of the role of the cryosphere in the climate system as well as our ability to make quantitative predictions and projections of future change by improving our capability to represent them in global earth system models.

In 2016, a new initiative entitled WCRP Grand Challenge “Melting Ice and Global Consequences” was set to be led by CliC with the goal of answering the overarching question: How will melting ice respond to, and feedback on, the climate response to increasing greenhouse gases, and what will the impacts be?” The activity targeted 3 areas:

  • Permafrost and the Carbon Cycle: Thawing permafrost and the potential for enhanced natural emissions of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere
  • Ice Sheets, Glaciers, and Rising Sea Level: Shrinking of mountain glaciers and large ice sheets with consequent sea-level rise and impacts on water resources; and
  • Sea Ice and Snow Interacting with a Changing Climate: Declining coverage of sea ice and snow, which will affect marine and ground transportation across the Arctic.

The Grand Challenge Melting Ice and Global Consequences was led by Tim Naish, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand,  from 2016 to 2022.