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Cryosphere Services and Human Well-Being

Journal article
Authors B. Su
C. D. Xiao
Deliang Chen
D. H. Qin
Y. J. Ding
Published in Sustainability
Volume 11
Issue 16
ISSN 2071-1050
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Keywords cryosphere, cryosphere services, cryosphere functions, human well-being, classification system, climate-change impacts, wind energy resource, ecosystem services, community perspectives, water availability, tibetan plateau, snow cover, glaciers, permafrost, hydropower, Science & Technology - Other Topics, Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Subject categories Climate Research, Environmental Sciences


Cryosphere services (CSs) refer to various benefits that humans directly or indirectly obtain from the cryosphere, which makes significant contributions to human well-being (HWB). To facilitate such research, we first present a classification system for conceptualizing, monitoring and assessing CSs based on the current process-based understanding of their nature and sustainability. Specifically, the CSs are grouped into five major categories (provisioning, regulating, cultural, bearing and supporting services) and 18 sub-categories. Then we provide a detailed overview on formation, current status and anticipated future changes of the identified types of the services, and their impact on HWB. Finally, the spatio-temporal scales, the links of the services with HWB and climate-dependence are further discussed. The research of CSs adopt interdisciplinary approach to address the formation mechanisms of CSs and their dynamic relationships with HWB, which is poised to provide a better understanding of the cryosphere's role in human society and help enhance socio-ecological sustainability and HWB over cryosphere-affected areas. Notably, most CSs have been deteriorating under global warming and cryosphere shrinkage, further leading to negative impacts on associated HWB. Therefore, great attention should be paid to the changes in CSs and their cascading risks.

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