Snow and ice research

Snow and ice are dominant features of the Canadian landscape and play an important role in the climate system. The presence of snow and ice on the earth’s surface helps to moderate climate through the reflection of energy (sunlight) back into the atmosphere. Snow and ice also represent an important storage component of fresh water. The spring melting of snow cover accumulated on the ground during winter helps to recharge rivers, lakes and streams and provides moisture for agricutural fields. Warming temperatures in Canada and globally have had significant impacts on the state of snow and ice with decreases in the extent and duration of winter snow cover, reduction in summer sea ice extent, earlier ice break-up on lakes and rivers, and shrinkage of glaciers and other land ice areas. Changes in snow and ice affect the behaviour of the climate system and have direct impacts on water resources, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, wildlife, economic activities and human well-being. 

ECCC scientists carry out research to understand the state of, and trends in, snow and ice in Canada and how changes are influencing climate. Scientists use a variety of methods to investigate snow and ice such as analysing historical data records, conducting field campaigns in remote northern regions of Canada and developing new capabilities to extract information from satellites. Measurements collected at field research sites help to evaluate and improve the representation of snow and ice processes in ECCC climate models.    

Services and information

Learn more about ECCC climate models and snow and ice research:

Questions? Send your enquiries, comments and suggestions to:

Environment and Climate Change Canada
Climate Research Division
4905 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario CANADA
M3H 5T4

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