The World Meteorological Organization will put cryosphere changes amongst its top priorities give climate change’s rapid effects on the region, the UN body said on Monday.
“The cryosphere issue is a hot topic not just for the Arctic and Antarctic, but it is a global issue,” Petteri Taalas, the WMO Secretary-General, said in a statement.
The resolution, endorsed by the World Meteorological Congress, the WMO’s decision making body, calls for more data exchange and increased funding along with coordinated observations, predictions and services.
The cryosphere refers to the regions of the world covered with frozen water, including everything from polar regions to high mountain areas.
The WMO’s State of the Global Climate in 2022 report issued in April, outlined some of the most drastic changes experienced by the cryosphere including the lowest Antarctic sea ice extent on record and continued glacier mass loss in parts of the Arctic and record glacier melt loss in Europe.
Cryosphere changes are urgent because they create knock-on effects for the whole planet, Sue Barrell, from Australia, and Diane Campbell, from Canada, the co-chairs of the WMO Executive Council’s Panel on Polar and High Mountains Observations, Research, and Services.
“Well over a billion people rely on water from snow and glacier melt, carried downstream by the major river basins of the world,” they said. “The irreversible changes in the global cryosphere will therefore affect adaptation strategies and access to water resources.
“Glaciers, Greenland and Antarctica ice sheet melt accounts for about 50 percent of sea level rise, which is accelerating. This is having growing and cascading impacts on small island developing states and densely populated coastal areas.”
Greenhouse gases released by melting permafrost and hazard risks from glacial lake outbursts are also increasing concerns, they say.
Closing knowledge gaps
The World Meteorological Congress resolution is calling for the urgency of global cryosphere change to be reflected in the WMO’s work
Closing knowledge gaps through increased coordination, partnerships is one of priorities outlined in the World Meteorological Congress resolution, the WMO statement said.
“Collaborative and coordinated technical mechanisms are optimized to support advancing service delivery by Members, to address relevant gaps in polar and high mountain regions, at all scales,” the WMO said.
“Partnerships and collaboration with research and external stakeholders advance knowledge sharing and amplify the existing capacity to deliver services, in a regional relevant manner.”
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
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