How do glaciers influence climate?


Ice flow

We often think about ice and glaciers responding to climate instead of influencing climate, but they can!  Here are a few ways that ice can cool the climate:

  • Albedo (reflectivity of Earth’s surface) is higher with more ice covering the land or sea
  • Sea ice cover ‘shuts off’ the heat coming from the ocean to warm the air, thus making the air colder
  • Large now-extinct ice sheets in the northern hemisphere were so large that they influenced atmospheric circulation and the jet stream, keeping large parts of the ice sheet in contact with polar air
  • Local valley winds and temperature are cooler with the presence of a glacier
  • Meltwater from the large northern hemisphere ice sheets broke its ice- and land-bound dams and flooded into the North Atlantic causing ocean circulation to slow down (slower Gulf Stream means less tropical waters and their associated heat make it to Europe)

One response to “How do glaciers influence climate?

  1. Pingback: Global warming a solution Global Warming and what an Individual can do about it – Swami Dayananda Saraswati | Marcus Ampe's Space·

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