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CliC Newsletter - Ice and Climate No. 35

newsletter 35The March 2021 edition of the World Climate Research Programme's Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project Newsletter - Ice and Climate No. 35 is now available.

The newsletter includes two science features highlighting recent publications of the Sea-Ice Intercomparison Project (SIMIP) and the Permafrost Carbon Network. The newsletter also includes an update from the 17th meeting of the CliC Scientific Steering Group (SSG) held in early March, and other announcements for the CliC community.  


CliC chairmanship 2021-2024: open call for nominations

The Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project is one of the core projects of the World Climate Resarch Programme (WCRP), serving as the focal point for climate science related to the cryosphere, its variability and change, and interaction with the broader climate system.

CliC is now launching an open call for nominations for chairmanship. Self-nominations are encouraged. Please fill in this form and it send to  no later than April 16th 2021. If you have questions, please contact present co-chairs Fiamma Straneo () or James Renwick (). 


Special issue | The Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6)

Special Issue: The Cryosphere, 14 (2020)

This special issue includes articles reporting results performed in the framework of ISMIP6, including improvements in ice sheet modeling, ice-climate interactions, or external forcings, as well as studies expounding on the ISMIP6 experimental protocol.Reducing the uncertainty in the past, present, and future contribution of ice sheets to sea-level rise requires a coordinated effort between the climate and glaciology communities. The Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6) is the primary activity within the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) focusing on modeling the evolution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The ISMIP6 experimental design relies on CMIP climate models and includes, for the first time within CMIP, coupled ice-sheet-climate models as well as standalone ice sheet models. ISMIP6 provides a basis for investigating the feedbacks, impacts, and sea-level changes associated with dynamic ice sheets and for quantifying the uncertainty in ice sheet contribution to sea-level change. The goal of this special issue is to build an evolving volume of refereed and high-quality contributions focusing on both standalone ice sheet models and coupled ice sheet-climate models, as well as new developments to improve the representation of external forcings used by ice sheet models. Such a volume will serve as a unique open reference to the rapidly evolving field of numerical modeling of ice sheet flow of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

This special issue includes articles reporting results performed in the framework of ISMIP6, including improvements in ice sheet modeling, ice-climate interactions, or external forcings, as well as studies expounding on the ISMIP6 experimental protocol.

Go to  Special Issue: The Cryosphere, 14 (2020)

Gap in Satellite Polar Altimetry: call for support

There is a growing concern regarding the imminent gap in satellite polar altimetry, which is likely to occur in the latter half of this decade. Therefor, a letter has been prepared to raise awareness of the situation with sufficient time for agencies to make preparations for mitigating the gap with some alternative provision.

The letter will be a community statement which outlines (i) the importance of Polar Altimetry, (ii) the major risk of an imminent gap in this capability, and (iii) the need to consider mitigation meausre as a matter of emergency.

 We are reaching the polar community for its support, and therefore we ask for your support by adding your signatures to the letter, here:

How much will glaciers and ice caps contribute to sea-level rise between 2015 and 2100? The first coordinated experiment in which 11 models of varying complexity have been used suggests up to 159±86 mm (RCP8.5)

--GlacierMIP is a CliC Activity and part of the WCRP Grand Challenge on Melting Ice and Global Consequence

GlacierMIPFigure2020(a) Number of Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) regions modeled by each glacier model. (b–d) Number of ensemble members for each (b) glacier model, (c) general circulation models (GCM), and (d) Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) scenario. Colors to identify models or scenarios are used consistently throughout the paper.

Citation: Marzeion, B., Hock, R., Anderson, B., Bliss, A., Champollion, N., Fujita, K., et al. (2020). Partitioning the uncertainty of ensemble projections of global glacier mass change  Earth's Future. 8, e2019EF001470. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EF001470

Glacier mass loss is recognized as a major contributor to current sea level rise. However, large uncertainties remain in projections of glacier mass loss on global and regional scales. This paper presents an ensemble of 288 glacier mass and area change projections for the 21st century based on 11 glacier models using up to 10 general circulation models and four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) as boundary conditions. The authors partition the total uncertainty into the individual contributions caused by glacier models, general circulation models, RCPs, and natural variability. They find that emission scenario uncertainty is growing throughout the 21st century and is the largest source of uncertainty by 2100. The relative importance of glacier model uncertainty decreases over time, but it is the greatest source of uncertainty until the middle of this century. The projection uncertainty associated with natural variability is small on the global scale but can be large on regional scales. The projected global mass loss by 2100 relative to 2015 (79 ± 56 mm sea level equivalent for RCP2.6, 159 ± 86 mm sea level equivalent for RCP8.5) is lower than, but well within, the uncertainty range of previous projections. 

2019 WCRP CliC Annual Report online

thumbnail ar2019The 2019 WCRP-CliC Annual Report is available. The report gives an overview of the CliC activities in 2019 and includes contributions from all of the CliC Projects/Groups Leads. 2019 was another productive year for the CliC community and CliC is pleased to share this annual report highlighting some of our progress and achievements during the past year. The report also covers the outputs resulting from the WCRP Grand Challenge on “Melting Ice and Global Consequences.“

With an ambitious agenda but using limited resources, CliC had a busy year, including a series of workshops, covering all major components of the CliC Action plan. The Grand Challenge “Melting Ice and Global Consequences” (GC) has been moving forward on its initial focus areas. CliC plays an important role in contributing to the GC’s goals by mobilizing the global cryosphere modelling community and supporting the sixth iteration of the WCRP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). CliC is currently sponsoring model intercomparison projects covering snow, ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice (ESM-SnowMIP, ISMIP6, MISOMIP, GlacierMIP, SIMIP). These initiatives are the result of a strategy aimed at tightening the links between the cryospheric research and global modelling communities. CliC SSG-members and projects leads played active roles in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report and Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere. CliC would like to thank Stephen Hudson, Shichang Kang, Hiroyuki Enomoto, Dario Trombotto who served on the CliC SSG from 2015/2016 to 2019. They would also like to wish a warm welcome to Jason Box, Hanne Christiansen, Camille Lique, Amy Lovecraft, Shin Sugiyama, and Tingjun Zhang, the six new members of the CliC SSG.

CliC would like to thank all of the contributors to the Annual Report.


would like to thank Stephen Hudson, Shichang Kang, Hiroyuki Enomoto, Dario Trombotto who served on the CliC SSG from 2015/2016 to 2019. They would also like to wish a warm welcome to Jason Box, Hanne Christiansen, Camille Lique, Amy Lovecraft, Shin Sugiyama, and Tingjun Zhang, the six new members of the CliC SSG.

New ISMASS paper: Mass balance of the ice sheets and glaciers – Progress since AR5 and challenges

Ice Sheet Melting: Estimates Still Uncertain, Experts Warn

--Press release of the Univerity of Lincoln: https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/news/2019/12/1582.asp--This paper is par of the CliC/SCAR/IASC co-sponsored ISMASS activity

Link to the paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012825219303848

Estimates used by climate scientists to predict the rate at which the world’s ice sheets will melt are still uncertain despite advancements in technology, new research shows.

These ice sheet estimates feed directly into projections of sea-level rise resulting from climate change. They are made by measuring how much material ice sheets are gaining or losing over time, known as mass balance, to assess their long-term health. Snowfall increases the mass of an ice sheet, while ice melting or breaking off causes it to lose mass, and the overall balance between these is crucial.

Although scientists now have a much better understanding of the melting behaviour of ice sheets than they did in previous decades, there are still significant uncertainties about their future melt rates, researchers found.

The new study, published in the scientific journal Earth Science Reviews, shows that despite recent advances in computer modelling of ice sheets in response to climate change, there are still key deficiencies in the models used to estimate the long-term health of ice sheets and related global sea-level predictions. Improving these estimates could prove vital to informing the scale of response needed to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change.  

Edward Hanna, Professor of Climate Science and Meteorology at the University of Lincoln, UK, co-ordinated the research in co-operation with a leading international group of glaciologists.

Professor Hanna said:  “The ice sheets are highly sensitive indicators of climate change, but despite significant recent improvements in data and knowledge, we still don’t understand enough about how rapidly they are likely to lose mass during and beyond the current century.

“Enhanced observations of ice sheets, mainly from satellite data fed into improved computer simulations, are vital to help refine predictions of future sea-level rise that will result from continued global warming. They are urgently needed to assist climate adaptation and impact planning across the world.”

In the last decade, the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets have overtaken thousands of smaller glaciers as the major contributors to rising sea levels – it is thought that combined, the sheets contain enough ice to raise global sea levels by as much as 65 metres. However, while some estimates project a contribution of as much as one and a half metres from Antarctica to global sea-level rise by 2100, others suggest only a few tens of centimetres contribution.

The researchers say there is a pressing need for further research that involves enhanced satellite and ground-based observations, together with more sophisticated, interactive computer models that combine ice masses, the atmosphere, ocean and solid Earth systems.

Their study involved analysis of recent estimates of ice sheet and glacier mass balance, as well as highlighting recent advances and limitations in computer-model simulations of ice sheet change as an important basis for future work. The World Climate Research Programme, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and the International Arctic Science Committee part-sponsored the research.
Professor Hanna also contributed to a recent paper in the scientific journal Nature analysing the Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance. That study, involving 96 polar scientists, showed that in the last decade, Greenland has lost ice seven times faster than in the 1990s. This tracks a high-end global warming scenario, with tens of millions more people being exposed to coastal flooding by 2100.

Report of the 15th Session of the CliC SSG available

Thumbnail ssg15 reportThe report of the 15th Session of the CliC Scientific Group is available. The  CliC SSG met on December 14-15, 2019, at the Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel in San Francisco, in conjunction with the AGU Fall Meeting, and funded by WCRP.  Thirty-three  participants  (25  in  person;  8  remotely) working  in  thirteen  different  countries  attended  the meeting. The meeting was co-chaired by CliC Co-Chairs James Renwick and Fiamma Straneo and WCRP Officer In Charge Mike Sparrow. The meeting participants discussed the ongoing CliC activities, interactions with other organizations and the future of CliC.

[CliC SSG15 report]

CliC Newsletter - Ice and Climate No. 33

Thumnail Newsletter Nov2019The November 2019 Edition of the World Climate Research Programme's Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) Project Newsletter - Ice and Climate No. 33 is now available.

It includes a science feature on the initMIP-Antarctica paper focusing on an ice sheet model initialization experiment of ISMIP6 and summaries of various CliC events held over the summer and the fall as well as a list of our upcoming workshops and meetings. CliC will hold the 15th Session of its Scientific Steering Group on December 14-15, 2019, in San Francisco, in conjunction with the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting and the 40th Anniversary of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

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