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The term "cryosphere" originates from the Greek word krios (kryos) for frost or ice cold. It collectively describes frozen water in the Earth System and includes sea ice, lake ice, and river ice, terrestrial snow packs, solid precipitation, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, permafrost, and seasonally frozen ground. The cryosphere is an integral part of the global climate system influencing surface energy, carbon and moisture fluxes, clouds, precipitation, hydrological conditions, and atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Besides playing a significant role in climate, the cryosphere is also a sensitive and informative indicator of the climate change. Cryospheric data are required in scientific research and in many practical applications such as engineering, construction, transportation, agriculture, water resource and supply management, power generation, recreation, etc.

Information on cryospheric variables is particularly important for the NEESPI region. Seasonal snow cover is observed over the whole territory of Northern Eurasia while snowmelt produces over half of the annual runoff of vast majority of its rivers. Over 10 million square kilometers (km2) of Eurasia land mass (mostly in Russia) is affected by permafrost.

The NASA NEESPI cryosphere data system currently includes information on snow and ice cover frequency of occurrence. The dataset was derived from daily Northern Hemisphere snow and ice cover charts generated interactively at NOAA.

Related Scientific Papers:

  • Ramsay, B., (1998) The interactive multisensor snow and ice mapping system Hydrological Processes, 12, 1537-1546.
  • Helfrich S.R., D. McNamara, B. H. Ramsay, T. Baldwin and T.Kasheta (2007) Enhancements to, and forthcoming developments in the Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS), Hydrological Processes, 21, 1576-1586.
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Last updated: Sep 09, 2009 02:27 PM ET