The cryosphere encompasses the frozen parts of Earth, including glaciers and ice sheets, sea ice, and any other frozen body of water, like rivers and lakes. The cryosphere plays a critical role in regulating climate. Increases in ice loss from the glaciers and ice sheets of Antarctica, Greenland, and the rest of the Arctic are contributing to sea level rise, while similarly dramatic changes are occurring in the sea ice cover of the Arctic and Southern Oceans, changing the ocean’s albedo or its ability to reflect the sun’s energy.
NASA’s capabilities in satellite and aircraft remote sensing are critical tools for understanding changes to the cryosphere. NASA cryospheric data, including land ice height, ice thickness, glacial extent, and glacial mass, provide insight into how changes in these regions affect albedo, contribute to sea level rise, impact water resources for agriculture and human consumption, and even lead to changes in Earth’s rotation.