STATE OF CRYOSPHERE REPORT (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Environment)

News-CRUX-10     18th November 2023        
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Context: Nearly all tropical glaciers, most mid-latitude glaciers and polar regions will disappear even if the world manages to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial era, according to the State of the Cryosphere 2023 report.

Key findings of the report

  • The Himalayas are expected to lose 50% of today’s ice if global average temperatures touch 2°C.
  • The impacts are already being felt at the current temperature rise of 1.2°C as many glaciers of the northern Andes, East Africa, and Indonesia are disappearing rapidly.
  • Sea ice around Antarctica hit an all-time low summer and winter record this year. Water temperatures in parts of the Arctic and North Atlantic were 4-6°C higher than normal.
  • The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were 50 per cent above pre-industrial levels in 2023.
  • Ice sheets in Greenland and parts of Antarctica could contribute between 12-20 metres of sea-level rise at 2°C. This 2°C will result in extensive, potentially rapid, irreversible sea-level rise from Earth’s ice sheets.
  • Both 2°C and 1.5°C could spell doom for permafrost.


  • The cryosphere contains the frozen parts of the planet. It includes snow and ice on land, ice caps, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. This sphere helps maintain Earth's climate by reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space.


  • It is a ground that stays frozen for two consecutive years.  These permanently frozen grounds are most common in regions with high mountains and in Earth's higher latitudes—near the North and South Poles.
  • When permafrost thaws, it releases CO2 and methane emissions, which will cause a spike in temperatures even if human emissions reach zero.