Global Scale Glaciology

Even though the ice mass stored in glaciers seems negligible compared to the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Shields, glaciers have contributed significantly to sea level rise in the past, and probably have been the biggest single source of observed sea level rise since 1900 (apart form thermal expansion, mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Shields, and changes in water mass stored on land). Mass loss from glaciers will continue to contribute to sea level rise substantially during the 21st century. By changing the seasonality of runoff, glaciers are also important regulators of water availability in many regions of the world. Retreating (as well as advancing) glaciers also lead to increased geohazards, e.g. from destabilized slopes and lakes dammed behind unstable, ice-cored moraines. Improving the knowledge how glaciers have been and will be responding to climate change, both natural and anthropogenic, past and future, is therefore a pressing task. We address these issues on the global scale in a number of projects linked below.