Last Tuesday, September 24, a special report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, on the current situation of the Oceans and the Cryosphere. In Chilean Glaciers we analyze the document in detail to extract the key antecedents on the state and projection of the glaciers.

To contextualize the origin of the document, first of all, we must mention that this special report was launched at the 51st IPCC session held in Monaco, an event that brings together the world’s leading experts on the subject. The report was prepared by academics from different countries and aims to support with scientific data those personalities who make decisions in the face of the serious climate picture that we face today, and in particular on this report, all those aspects related to the current situation and the projections of the state of the Oceans and the Cryosphere.

Some general aspects

  • The oceans cover almost 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planet’s total water. Meanwhile, the cryosphere is made up of all forms of ice on Earth and covers about 10% of the Earth’s surface. Both are important ecosystems and have been strongly impacted by climatic changes over time.
  • Many human settlements are closely linked to the oceans or the cryosphere, depending on them for their survival.
  • The oceans and the cryosphere are important in various aspects of life on Earth; such as the regulation of environmental conditions, energy source, support for economic activities, transportation, cultural aspects, among others.


This special IPCC report, through the investigations carried out by the different research teams cited in the document, provides us with some sad background on glaciers:

  • The ice caps and glaciers of the world are losing mass. The glaciers as a whole, except Antarctica and Greenland, lose mass at a rate of 220 +/- 30 Gigatons per year measured between 2006 and 2015.
  • Permafrost temperatures have increased to record levels from the 1980s to the present.
  • Arctic sea ice has decreased by 12.8% +/- 2.3% per decade, having an unprecedented record in the last 1000 years in this September.
  • In many mountain areas, the retreat of glaciers and the disappearance of permafrost contributes instability to the slopes, increasing the frequency of GLOFs, landslides and avalanches, projecting to new places or seasons of the year where they were not frequent.
  • Tourism in high mountain areas will be strongly affected by negative changes. In the case of skiing, snowmaking technologies will be less and less effective in much of North America, Europe and Japan.
  • The predicted changes in the ocean and cryosphere require ambitious mitigation and adaptation measures. In the scenario of a higher amount of greenhouse gas emissions, many countries will have serious limitations to achieve this.
  • International coordination and cooperation will be essential to face the changes that are happening and that are predicted.

You can review the full report at the following link: