Seasonal snow and freshwater ice

Come, see the north wind's masonry.

Out of an unseen quarry evermore Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer Curves his white bastions with projected roof Round every windward stake, or tree, or door. Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work So fanciful, so savage, naught cares he For number or proportion. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Snowstorm"

Snow and ice take on a wondrous array of manifestations, each with its own role to play and story to tell in terms of the global climate system. The next several chapters provide overviews of the geography and physics of the main elements of the cryosphere. We begin with the seasonal blanket of snow and ice that covers much of the land surface each winter.

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