DACA-13 symposium 'Climate Change and the Mountain Cryosphere'

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DACA-13 symposium 'Climate Change and the Mountain Cryosphere'

Andrew Mackintosh

Dear Cryolist members,


The deadline for submitting an abstract to the DACA-13 scientific assembly in Davos, Switzerland (http://www.daca-13.org/) is January 31st, 2013 – a little over a week away.


I wish to draw your attention to the symposium ‘Climate Change and the Mountain Cryosphere’ which promises to be an important event in this field. This symposium includes five individual sessions, 

  1. Glacier monitoring from in-situ and remotely sensed observations
  2. The response of glaciers to climate trends and climate variability: modern observations, past reconstructions, and scale dependence
  3. Glaciers in a changing climate: a global picture
  4. Asian glaciers and climate change
  5. Open alpine cryosphere session

If you answer yes to any of the following questions then please read on and consider submitting an abstract.

·      Have you been documenting changes in the mountain cryosphere or are you seeking to understand them?


·      Are you interested in anthropogenic climate change, in particular, the climatic attribution of cryospheric changes?


·      Would you like to know more about Himalayan glaciers and their current state of balance?


DACA-13 will bring together both the atmospheric (IAMAS) and cryospheric (IACS) communities, allowing for focus on the interactions between ice and climate. The conveners of the five sessions  - Michael Zemp, Andreas Kääb, Richard Armstrong, Vladimir Ryabinin, Gerard Roe, Thomas Moelg, Valentina Radic, Matthias Huss, Rianne Giesen, Paul Leclercq, Tad Pfeffer, Ramesh Singh, Alexander Kokhanovsky, Koji Fujita, Martin Hoelzle, Tobias Bolch and Marcia Phillips – are committed to making this an outstanding event. Don’t miss this opportunity!


Climate change and the mountain cryosphere

Changes in the mountain cryosphere and especially in the length of well-known mountain glaciers have become iconic symbols of climate change. Mountain glacier recession is one of the largest contributors to sea-level rise, and downstream impacts on water resources affect millions of people. The focus of this symposium is on understanding the relationship between the mountain cryosphere and the climate system. We will cover topics including; observations of past changes in glaciers, glacial processes, especially those influencing climate response, the relationship between climate variability, climate change and glaciers, future projections and sea-level contribution of glaciers, modelling of glaciers and their interaction with climate, and (more generally), improving our understanding of changes in the alpine cryosphere.

Symposium lead convener

Andrew Mackintosh ([hidden email])

Session A5.1. Glacier monitoring from in-situ and remotely sensed observations

Understanding glacial processes is key to assessing the sensitivity of glacier systems to changing climate. Glaciers are monitored on different spatio-temporal scales, from extensive seasonal mass balance studies at selected glaciers to multi-decadal repeat inventories over entire mountain ranges. Internationally coordinated glacier monitoring aims at combining in-situ measurement with remotely sensed data, and local process understanding with global coverage.

Bringing together studies from the tropics to polar regions as well as from different disciplines, this session invites presentations on both in-situ and remotely sensed monitoring of glaciers, and on related uncertainty assessments.

Session conveners

Lead convener: Michael Zemp ([hidden email])

Co-conveners: Andreas Kääb, Richard Armstrong, Vladimir Ryabinin


Session A5.2. The response of glaciers to climate trend and climate variability: modern observations, past reconstructions, and scale dependence

This session targets the interface between atmospheric sciences and glaciology, with a focus on the link between larger-scale atmospheric/climate dynamics, glacier mass balance, and changes in glacier length. Modern glacier fluctuations are driven by both anthropogenic climate change and natural climate variability. Past glacier fluctuations are a primary data source for inferring Earth’s climate history. A detailed understanding of the causes of modern variability can better guide our interpretation of the paleorecords, and the past can in turn inform us of the context in which anthropogenic change is taking place. Changes in the cryosphere are often interpreted in terms of mean climatic changes, but the role of interannual variability is often neglected. There is great potential to track the importance of these factors to climate system dynamics on different scales.

Coupled atmosphere-ocean modes, large-scale weather patterns, mesoscale circulations over mountains, and local-scale energy and mass exchanges in the surface boundary layer all can control glacier mass balance to various degrees, and can be interconnected as well. We invite model- and observational-based studies on any aspects of linkages between atmospheric processes and glacier mass balance on local, regional and global scales. We also seek contributions (theory, modelling, observations, or reconstructions) that characterise glacier length fluctuations on timescales ranging from the past century up to the past few millennia, and aim to understand their cause in terms of the climate changes and climate variability that drive them.

Session conveners

Lead conveners: Gerard Roe ([hidden email])

Co-conveners: Thomas Moelg, Valentina Radic, Matthias Huss


Session A5.3. Glaciers in a changing climate: a global picture

Glaciers are found from the warm Tropics to the cold Arctic regions and from maritime to continental climates. Despite the climatic differences, glaciers in all parts of the world are currently losing mass, thereby contributing to sea-level rise.

The response of a glacier to a changing climate is mainly determined by the climatic conditions and its geometry, but also by the debris cover and frontal characteristics. The differences between individual glaciers form a challenge for global assessments of the contribution of glaciers to sea level change. An additional complication is that well-studied regions like the European Alps and Scandinavia only contain a small fraction of the world’s ice volume, while little is known about the long-term behaviour of glaciers in heavily glacierised regions, for example Alaska, Arctic Canada and the Himalayas.

We invite contributions on the response of glaciers to a changing climate, from observations and modelling of current changes at individual glaciers to volume projections on regional and global scales. Studies addressing glacier changes in regions with a large potential sea-level contribution are especially welcome.

Session conveners

Lead convener: Rianne Giesen ([hidden email])

Co-conveners: Paul Leclercq, Tad Pfeffer


Session A5.4. Asian glaciers and climate change

Snow cover and glaciers influence the Indian monsoon and Asian climate in general. Recently, snow and glaciers in Asia became a hot topic due to their likely future impact on the hydrological cycle and sea level. Observations of glaciers in the Himalayas have been based on a limited number of ground observations. Satellie-based observations are now filling in these gaps, providing information about snow and glacier extent, as well as meteorological and atmospheric parameters.

Changes in land use and anthropogenic activities in Asia have led to an increase in atmospheric aerosol loading and aerosol transport. These changes affect the albedo of Himalayan snow and glaciers, increasing melt in some cases. The intensity of such impacts varies along the Himalayan range. We welcome contributions that help us to understand the interactions between glaciers and climate in Asia, including; radiative transfer modelling, mapping and monitoring of glaciers, dust and anthropogenic activities, river flow, relation with climate, Indian monsoon and ground and satellite observations.

Session conveners

Lead convener: Ramesh Singh ([hidden email])

Co-conveners: Alexander Kokhanovsky, Koji Fujita


Session A5.5. Open alpine cryosphere session

The alpine cryosphere includes important elements of the earth system like snow cover, glaciers, permafrost, seasonally frozen ground, and lake and river ice. The cryosphere is currently one of the most prominent symbols to visualize the impact of climate change, because changes in many cryospheric variables can be observed in nature even by non-scientists. The observed changes in climate are affecting all elements of the alpine cryosphere on different scales.

On a global scale, glaciers and ice caps are increasingly influencing the global sea level rise and are therefore threatening many heavily populated regions close to seashores. On a local to overregional scale the current retreat of mountain glaciers worldwide influences the water discharge and consequently sustainable agriculture and energy production, or mountain permafrost affecting slope stability. Therefore, it is still an urgent need to improve the understanding of alpine cryospheric processes and the corresponding long-term evolution of e.g. glaciers or mountain permafrost in connection with climate change adaptation programmes in order to reduce the high vulnerability of people living in mountainous regions.

Contributions of all kind on alpine cryosphere topics dealing with field measurements, modelling or impacts are highly welcomed.

Session conveners

Lead convener: Martin Hoelzle ([hidden email])

Co-conveners: Tobias Bolch, Matthias Huss, Marcia Phillips



Associate Professor Andrew Mackintosh

Secretary General, International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS)


School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

and Antarctic Research Centre

Victoria University of Wellington

New Zealand

+64 27 563 6193



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