Nature chose for a tool, not the earthquake or lightning to rend and split asunder, not the stormy torrent or eroding rain, but the tender snow-flowers noiselessly falling through unnumbered centuries. —John Muir, Studies in the Sierra

John Muir's musings on the erosive power of glaciation and its legacy in the landscape are a reminder of the surprisingly potent role that the cryosphere can play in the Earth system. The Pleistocene glaciations are a grand example of this: a time when ice defined the planet and shaped the global climate. These episodes tell us a great deal about cryosphere-climate processes and feedbacks, which are still active, if more subtle, in today's world. This chapter describes the influence of the cryo-sphere in the climate system.

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