Special Issue "Cryosphere"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kamp

University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: (406) 203-2290
Fax: (406) 243-4808
Interests: cryosphere; environmental change; geomorphology; GIS/remote sensing; mountain geography; natural hazards

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue, “Cryosphere”, of Geosciences aims to present the diversity within the field and state-of-the-art research on glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, sea ice, and snow cover. It also seeks to display a wide range of regional studies and methodological approaches such as laboratory experiments, field measurements and observations, numerical modeling, and remote sensing. Contributions on the interactions between the cryosphere and other elements of the geosystem (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere) are of particular interest, as are applied aspects related to the cryosphere, for example, natural hazards, hydropower, water resources, and artificial glaciation. Last, but not least, the Special Issue allows for stretching our imagination beyond Earth, and welcomes new insights into the cryospheres of other planets.

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Kamp
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • glaciers
  • ice sheets
  • permafrost
  • sea ice
  • snow cover
  • cryosphere and natural hazards
  • cryosphere and hydropower
  • cryosphere and water resources
  • planetary ice

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Glaciers, Permafrost and Lake Levels at the Tsengel Khairkhan Massif, Mongolian Altai, During the Late Pleistocene and Holocene
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 73; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030073 (registering DOI)
Received: 31 May 2017 / Revised: 16 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 August 2017 / Published: 16 August 2017
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Abstract
Understanding paleo—and recent environmental changes and the dynamics of individual drivers of water availability is essential for water resources management in the Mongolian Altai. Here, we follow a holistic approach to uncover changes in glaciers, permafrost, lake levels and climate at the Tsengel
[...] Read more.
Understanding paleo—and recent environmental changes and the dynamics of individual drivers of water availability is essential for water resources management in the Mongolian Altai. Here, we follow a holistic approach to uncover changes in glaciers, permafrost, lake levels and climate at the Tsengel Khairkhan massif. Our general approach to describe glacier and lake level changes is to combine traditional geomorphological field mapping with bathymetric measurements, satellite imagery interpretation, and GIS analyses. We also analysed climate data from two nearby stations, and measured permafrost temperature conditions at five boreholes located at different elevations. We identified four glacial moraine systems (M4-M1) and attribute them to the period from the penultimate glaciation (MIS 4/5) until the Little Ice Age (MIS 1). During the Local Last Glacial Maximum (LLGM; MIS 2), a glacier reached down into the western Kharganat Valley and blocked it, resulting in the formation of the endorheic Khar Lake basin. Subsequently, the lake was fed mainly by precipitation and permafrost meltwater. In recent years, glaciers have been in strong recession, yet Khar Lake levels have remained relatively stable, which is in contrast to mainly decreasing lake levels in other regions throughout Mongolia. While temperatures in the Altai are increasing (leading to increasing evaporation), precipitation in higher elevations has increased, which—in addition to increased glacier and permafrost melting—would counteract the increasing aridity effects. A systematic and holistic monitoring of glaciers, permafrost, lake levels and climate in the Mongolian Altai is necessary, and results from (sub-)disciplines need to be correlated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
Open AccessArticle Late Holocene Glacier Dynamics in the Miyar Basin, Lahaul Himalaya, India
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 64; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030064
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 23 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 4 August 2017
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Abstract
Detailed field mapping of glacial and paraglacial landforms and optical dating from these landforms are used to reconstruct the early Holocene glaciation in the semi-arid region of Miyar basin, Lahaul Himalaya. The study identifies three stages of glaciation, of decreasing magnitude and termed,
[...] Read more.
Detailed field mapping of glacial and paraglacial landforms and optical dating from these landforms are used to reconstruct the early Holocene glaciation in the semi-arid region of Miyar basin, Lahaul Himalaya. The study identifies three stages of glaciation, of decreasing magnitude and termed, from oldest to youngest, the Miyar stage (MR-I), Khanjar stage (KH-II), and Menthosa advance (M-III). The oldest glacial stage (MR-I) has been established on the basis of detailed geomorphological evidence such as U-shaped valley morphology, trimlines, and truncated spurs. It is speculated to be older than the global Last Glacial Maximum (gLGM) based on the magnitude of ΔELA (Equilibrium-Line Altitude, 606m). No evidence of glacier expansion recorded from the basin correlates with the period of the gLGM. The second stage (KH-II) is well represented by extensive depositional features such as lateral and terminal moraines, drumlins, and lacustrine fills that have been constrained within 10 ± 1 to 6.6 ± 1.0 ka (Optically stimulated luminescence—OSL—ages), dating it to the early Holocene advance following the Younger Dryas cooling event. Exceptionally young glacial records of expansion are limited within a few hundred meters of the present termini of tributary glaciers and correlates with the 18th-century cooling event. Records of this glacial advance, termed the Menthosa advance, are clearly noticed in some tributary valleys. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Surface State across Scales; Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Land Surface Freeze/Thaw Dynamics
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 65; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030065
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 22 July 2017 / Accepted: 25 July 2017 / Published: 3 August 2017
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Abstract
Freezing and thawing of the land surface affects ecosystem and hydrological processes, the geotechnical properties of soil and slope stability. Currently, available datasets on land surface state lack either sufficient temporal or spatial resolution to adequately characterize the complexity of freeze/thaw transition period
[...] Read more.
Freezing and thawing of the land surface affects ecosystem and hydrological processes, the geotechnical properties of soil and slope stability. Currently, available datasets on land surface state lack either sufficient temporal or spatial resolution to adequately characterize the complexity of freeze/thaw transition period dynamics. Surface state changes can be detected using microwave remote sensing methods. Data available from scatterometer and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors have been used in the past in regional- to continental-scale approaches to monitor freeze/thaw transitions. This study aims to identify temporal and spatial patterns in freeze/thaw dynamics associated with the issue of differing temporal and spatial resolutions. For this purpose, two datasets representing the timing of freeze/thaw cycles at different resolutions and spatial extents were chosen. The used Advanced SCATterometer (ASCAT) Surface State Product offers daily circumpolar information from 2007–2013 for a 12.5-km grid. The SAR freeze/thaw product offers information of day of thawing and freezing for the years 2005–2010 with a nominal resolution of 500 m and a temporal resolution of up to twice per week. In order to assess the importance of scale when describing temporal and spatial patterns of freeze/thaw processes, the two datasets were compared for spring and autumn periods for the maximum number of overlapping years 2007–2010. The analysis revealed non-linear landscape specific relationships between the two scales, as well as distinct differences between the results for thawing and re-freezing periods. The results suggest that the integration of globally available high temporal resolution scatterometer data and higher spatial resolution SAR data could be a promising step towards monitoring surface state changes on a seasonal, as well as daily and circumpolar, as well as local scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Glacier Snowline Determination from Terrestrial Laser Scanning Intensity Data
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 60; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030060
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 28 June 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 17 July 2017
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Abstract
Accurately identifying the extent of surface snow cover on glaciers is important for extrapolating end of year mass balance measurements, constraining the glacier surface radiative energy balance and evaluating model simulations of snow cover. Here, we use auxiliary information from Riegl VZ-6000 Terrestrial
[...] Read more.
Accurately identifying the extent of surface snow cover on glaciers is important for extrapolating end of year mass balance measurements, constraining the glacier surface radiative energy balance and evaluating model simulations of snow cover. Here, we use auxiliary information from Riegl VZ-6000 Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) return signals to accurately map the snow cover over a glacier throughout an ablation season. Three classification systems were compared, and we find that supervised classification based on TLS signal intensity alone is outperformed by a rule-based classification employing intensity, surface roughness and an associated optical image, which achieves classification accuracy of 68–100%. The TLS intensity signal shows no meaningful relationship with surface or bulk snow density. Finally, we have also compared our Snow Line Altitude (SLA) derived from TLS with SLA derived from the model output, as well as one Landsat image. The results of the model output track the SLA from TLS well, however with a positive bias. In contrast, automatic Landsat-derived SLA slightly underestimates the SLA from TLS. To conclude, we demonstrate that the snow cover extent can be mapped successfully using TLS, although the snow mass remains elusive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Strategies for the Simulation of Sea Ice Organic Chemistry: Arctic Tests and Development
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 52; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030052
Received: 11 April 2017 / Revised: 18 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 14 July 2017
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Abstract
A numerical mechanism connecting ice algal ecodynamics with the buildup of organic macromolecules is tested within modeled pan-Arctic brine channels. The simulations take place offline in a reduced representation of sea ice geochemistry. Physical driver quantities derive from the global sea ice code
[...] Read more.
A numerical mechanism connecting ice algal ecodynamics with the buildup of organic macromolecules is tested within modeled pan-Arctic brine channels. The simulations take place offline in a reduced representation of sea ice geochemistry. Physical driver quantities derive from the global sea ice code CICE, including snow cover, thickness and internal temperature. The framework is averaged over ten boreal biogeographic zones. Computed nutrient-light-salt limited algal growth supports grazing, mortality and carbon flow. Vertical transport is diffusive but responds to pore structure. Simulated bottom layer chlorophyll maxima are reasonable, though delayed by about a month relative to observations due to uncertainties in snow variability. Upper level biota arise intermittently during flooding events. Macromolecular concentrations are tracked as proxy proteins, polysaccharides, lipids and refractory humics. The fresh biopolymers undergo succession and removal by bacteria. Baseline organics enter solely through cell disruption, thus the internal carbon content is initially biased low. By including exudation, agreement with dissolved organic or individual biopolymer data is achieved given strong release coupled to light intensity. Detrital carbon then reaches hundreds of micromolar, sufficient to support structural changes to the ice matrix. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Automated Webcam Monitoring of Fractional Snow Cover in Northern Boreal Conditions
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 55; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030055
Received: 31 May 2017 / Revised: 28 June 2017 / Accepted: 4 July 2017 / Published: 9 July 2017
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Abstract
Fractional snow cover (FSC) is an important parameter to estimate snow water equivalent (SWE) and surface albedo important to climatic and hydrological applications. The presence of forest creates challenges to retrieve FSC accurately from satellite data, as forest canopy can block the sensor’s
[...] Read more.
Fractional snow cover (FSC) is an important parameter to estimate snow water equivalent (SWE) and surface albedo important to climatic and hydrological applications. The presence of forest creates challenges to retrieve FSC accurately from satellite data, as forest canopy can block the sensor’s view of snow cover. In addition to the challenge related to presence of forest, in situ data of FSC—necessary for algorithm development and validation—are very limited. This paper investigates the estimation of FSC using digital imagery to overcome the obstacle caused by forest canopy, and the possibility to use this imagery in the validation of FSC derived from satellite data. FSC is calculated here using an algorithm based on defining a threshold value according to the histogram of an image, to classify a pixel as snow-covered or snow-free. Images from the MONIMET camera network, producing a continuous image series in Finland, are used in the analysis of FSC. The results obtained from automated image analysis of snow cover are compared with reference data estimated by visual inspection of same images. The results show the applicability and usefulness of digital imagery in the estimation of fractional snow cover in forested areas, with a Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) in the range of 0.1–0.3 (with the full range of 0–1). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Laser Ultrasound Observations of Mechanical Property Variations in Ice Cores
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 47; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030047
Received: 1 May 2017 / Revised: 14 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 24 June 2017
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Abstract
The study of climate records in ice cores requires an accurate determination of annual layering within the cores in order to establish a depth-age relationship. Existing tools to delineate these annual layers are based on observations of changes in optical, chemical, and electromagnetic
[...] Read more.
The study of climate records in ice cores requires an accurate determination of annual layering within the cores in order to establish a depth-age relationship. Existing tools to delineate these annual layers are based on observations of changes in optical, chemical, and electromagnetic properties. In practice, no single technique captures every layer in all circumstances. Therefore, the best estimates of annual layering are produced by analyzing a combination of measurable ice properties. We present a novel and complimentary elastic wave remote sensing method based on laser ultrasonics. This method is used to measure variations in ultrasonic wave arrival times and velocity along the core with millimeter resolution. The laser ultrasound system does not require contact with the ice core and is non-destructive. Custom optical windows allow the source and receiver lasers to be located outside the cold room, while the core is scanned by moving it with a computer-controlled stage. We present results from Antarctic firn and ice cores that lack visual evidence of a layered structure, but do show travel-time and velocity variations. In the future, these new data may be used to infer stratigraphic layers from elastic parameter variations within an ice core, as well as analyze ice crystal fabrics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Developing a Cloud-Reduced MODIS Surface Reflectance Product for Snow Cover Mapping in Mountainous Regions
Geosciences 2017, 7(2), 29; doi:10.3390/geosciences7020029
Received: 22 February 2017 / Revised: 6 April 2017 / Accepted: 12 April 2017 / Published: 17 April 2017
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Abstract
Cloud obscuration is a major problem for using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images in different applications. This issue poses serious difficulties in monitoring the snow cover in mountainous regions due to high cloudiness in such areas. To overcome this, different cloud removal
[...] Read more.
Cloud obscuration is a major problem for using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images in different applications. This issue poses serious difficulties in monitoring the snow cover in mountainous regions due to high cloudiness in such areas. To overcome this, different cloud removal methods have been developed in the past where most of them use MODIS snow cover products and spatiotemporal dependencies of snow to estimate the undercloud coverage. In this study, a new approach is adopted that uses surface reflectance data in the cloud-free pixels and estimates the surface reflectance of a cloudy pixel as if there were no cloud. This estimation is obtained by subsequently applying the k-nearest neighbor and dynamic time compositing methods. The modified surface reflectance data are then utilized as inputs of a Normalized Difference Snow Index (NDSI)-based algorithm to map snow cover in the study area. The results indicate that the suggested approach is able to appropriately estimate undercloud surface reflectance in bands 2, 4 and 6, and can map the snow cover with 97% accuracy, which is a substantial improvement over the conventional method with an accuracy of 86%. Finally, although a clear underestimation of snow cover (about 15%) is observed by applying the proposed approach, still, it is much better than the 30% underestimation obtained by the conventional method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle Changes of High Altitude Glaciers in the Trans-Himalaya of Ladakh over the Past Five Decades (1969–2016)
Geosciences 2017, 7(2), 27; doi:10.3390/geosciences7020027
Received: 14 March 2017 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 12 April 2017 / Published: 14 April 2017
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Abstract
Climatic differences between monsoonal and cold-arid parts of the South Asian mountain arc account for the uncertainty regarding regional variations in glacier retreat. In this context, the upper Indus Basin of Ladakh, sandwiched between the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, is of particular interest.
[...] Read more.
Climatic differences between monsoonal and cold-arid parts of the South Asian mountain arc account for the uncertainty regarding regional variations in glacier retreat. In this context, the upper Indus Basin of Ladakh, sandwiched between the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, is of particular interest. The aims of the present study are threefold: to map the glaciers of central and eastern Ladakh, to describe their regional distribution and characteristics in relation to size and topography, and to analyze glacier changes in the selected ranges over the past five decades. The study is based on multi-temporal remote sensing data (Corona and Landsat), supported and validated by several field campaigns carried out between 2007 and 2016. A glacier inventory was carried out for the complete study area, which was subdivided into nine sub-regions for comparison. In general, the glaciers of Ladakh are characterized by their high altitude, as 91% terminate above 5200 m, and by their relatively small size, as 79% of them are smaller than 0.75 km2 and only 4% are larger than 2 km2. The glaciated area of central Ladakh totaled 997 km2 with more than 1800 glaciers in 2002. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Open AccessArticle The Influence of Cryogenic Mass Exchange on the Composition and Stabilization Rate of Soil Organic Matter in Cryosols of the Kolyma Lowland (North Yakutia, Russia)
Geosciences 2017, 7(2), 24; doi:10.3390/geosciences7020024
Received: 21 February 2017 / Revised: 31 March 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 11 April 2017
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Abstract
Soil organic matter (SOM) was studied in different types of organo-mineral material (from surface horizons and partially isolated materials—cryoturbated or buried horizons) sampled from the surface horizons, the central parts of the Cryosol profiles, and the lower active layer. We found that the
[...] Read more.
Soil organic matter (SOM) was studied in different types of organo-mineral material (from surface horizons and partially isolated materials—cryoturbated or buried horizons) sampled from the surface horizons, the central parts of the Cryosol profiles, and the lower active layer. We found that the humic acids (HAs) of the cryoturbated and buried horizons showed an increased degree of oxidation and an increment of alkylaromatic and protonized aromatic fraction content. In contrast, the HAs of the surface horizons showed increased values of alkylic carbon components. The content of free radicals was essentially higher in the surface layers than in the cryoturbated and buried layers. While the bulk soil organic matter composition (total organic carbon, total nitrogen, and aromatic/aliphatic values) was not essentially different between surface, cryoturbated, and buried horizons, there were essential differences in elemental composition, carbon species, and free radical content. This indicates that the degree of humification in cryoturbated and buried organo-mineral material is higher than in surface horizons and that partial isolation results in relative stabilization of such material in soil profiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Late Holocene Glacier Dynamics in the Miyar Basin, Lahul Himalaya, India
Authors: Sanjay Deswal, Milap Chand Sharma *, Navin Juyal, Pradeep Srivastava, Ishwar Singh, Rakesh Saini, Ajai, I. M. Bahuguna
Abstract:Reconstructing past climatic events is of immense significance in the backdrop of present concerns on climate change. Glaciers and ice bodies, being sensitive and key indicators of climate change, have undergone substantial retreat across the globe past one century. As in other parts of the world, this study on the geomorphic history of Miyar basin on different stages of evolution of landscape which have been are still are primarily controlled by glacial and interglacial phases; provides assessment of climatic variations on a millennial scale. The oldest glaciation (termed here as the Miyar Stage) could not be dated due to paucity of suitable dating sites or material. However, this major advance had all tributaries coalesce which covered ~500 km2 (52%) area of the basin i.e. almost 2.5 times as compared to the present glacier cover (23.8%). Baring the large trough, there are hardly any other landforms of the Miyar stage, notwithstanding the paleo-cirques which dominate the present day landscape. Such non-existence of related landforms of this stage may be indicative of rapid post-glacial modification in such a highly dynamic mountain environment. The second stage (termed here as Khanjar stage) is well established by extensive depositional features such as lateral moraines, terminal moraines, drumlins and lacustrine fills, typically constrained within 8-6 ka (Optically Stimulated Luminescence ages); bracketing it to the early Holocene advances elsewhere in the Himalayas. Young glacial landform records are limited within few hundred meters of the present terminuses of various glaciers, probably making these extents cotemporanous with the Little Ice Age (LIA) event of other regions. Such recent landform records in the vicinity of glacier fronts have been termed as the Menthosa advance where the evidence of such advance are impeccable. Paraglacial landforms dominate the present landscape of the basin where resedimentation probably turned super-active once these glaciers receded to higher altitudes, and on achieving the new local base-level post the mid Holocene deglaciation.

Title: Paleoenvironmental Conditions of the Tsengel Khairkhan Region in the Mongolian Altai
Authors: Michael Walther, Avirmed Dashtseren, Ulrich Kamp and Caleb Pan

Title: Climate Change Likely Amplifies Flood Frequency and Intensity in the Kabul River Basin
Authors:
Muhammad Shahid Iqbal, Zakir Hussain Dahri, Nynke Hofstra, Erik P Querner, Asif Khan*, Rik Leemans

Title: Glaciers in the arid parts of the Altai Mountains: present dynamics and patterns of retreat
Authors: Ganyushkin D.*, Chistyakov K.V., Volkov I.V., Bancev D.V., Kunaeva E.P.

Title: Sea ice high resolution models and risks for shipping
Authors: Yevgeny Aksenov, et al.

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