Measurements > Snow and Ice

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Measurements of ice and snow include a number of parameters covering topography, and cover, edge and thickness/depth.
Ice sheet topographyThe state of the polar ice sheets and their volumes are both indicators and important parts of climate change processes and feedbacks. Consequently, it is important to monitor and study them in order to investigate the impact of global warming and to forecast future trends.
Sea ice cover, edge and thicknessSea ice variability is a key indicator of climate variability and change which is characterised by a number of parameters. In addition to monitoring ice extent (the total area covered by ice at any concentration) and concentration (the area covered by ice per unit area of ocean), it is necessary to know ice thickness in order to estimate sea ice volume or mass balance.
Snow cover, edge and depthRegular measurements of terrestrial snow cover are important because snow dramatically influences surface albedo, thereby making a significant impact on the global climate, as well as influencing hydrological properties and the regulation of ecosystem biological activity. Snow forms a vital component of the water cycle. In order to make efficient use of meltwater runoff, resource agencies must be able to make early predictions of the amount of water stored in the form of snow. Snow cover information has a range of additional applications such as detecting areas of winterkill in agriculture that result from lack of snow cover to insulate plants from freezing temperatures. Locally, monitoring of snow parameters is important for meteorology and for enabling warnings of when melting is about to occur – which is crucial for hydrological research and for forecasting the risk of flooding.