Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU)

Ice and Climate

Ice and Climate

Land ice plays an important role in the earth climate system. Through its albedo, ice masses affect the global energy budget directly, while the interaction between atmosphere and glacier surfaces determines the local climate to a high degree. A warmer greenhouse climate might lead to enhanced melting of glaciers and ice caps, and changes in the dynamics of glaciers, causing changes in ocean circulation and sea level. The mission of the Ice and Climate group at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research of Utrecht University (UU/IMAU) is to improve our understanding of the exchange processes between atmosphere and ice/snow surfaces and the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets.


Princetonplein 5
3584 CC Utrecht

Phone: +31 30 253 3275

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Automatic Weather Stations

Since 1994, UU/IMAU has deployed several Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) on different glaciers around the world (Antarctica, Greenland, Alps, Norway, Iceland, Svalbard), and in different climate regimes. The stations are designed to work for long periods without being serviced and offer the opportunity to measure meteorological variables in remote areas and in harsh weather conditions. The main purpose of these stations is to study the mass balance and energy balance at these locations in view of global climate change, sea level rise and historic climate reconstructions.

Regional Modeling

Since the mid-1990's, UU/IMAU, in cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), has been using and improving the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model RACMO to study the mass budget of the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica and several smaller ice caps. In conjunction, a firn model has been developed for detailed studies on firn processes, but also in support of laser and radar altimetry observations.

Karthaus Summerschool

The Karthaus Summer School on Ice Sheets and Glaciers in the Climate System provides a basic introduction to the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets with a focus on ice-climate interactions. The course is meant for Ph.D. students that work on (or will soon start working on) a glaciology-related climate project. A few places are available for junior scientists.


IMAU Ice and Climate in the news

After the partial breaking of the Larsen-C ice sheet on Antarctica, the media collectively asked IMAU researchers for comments. This photo shows Michiel van den Broeke, who gave an explanation in Nieuwsuur. In addition, these researchers appeared in the media last summer: Roderik van de Wal, Jan Lenaerts, Hans Oerlemans, Peter Kuipers Munneke.


SEES expedition

Among the 50 researchers who went on an expedition to Spitsbergen this summer were seven scientists from Utrecht. Researchers Wim Hoek (Physical Geography) and Willem Jan van de Berg (IMAU) came back with enthusiastic stories to tell. Read their story