Top 50 of cryosphere papers in the media: 2018

Discover which cryospheric research articles were most successful in attracting media attention in 2018 according to the Altmetric score.

Cryo Connect and Altmetric

Scientists are generally aware of each others’ studies. But when a scientific study generates media interest, its impact can be boosted beyond the scientific community. The media can push the essence of scientific study to the broader public through newspapers and news websites, television and social media. It all counts, and Altmetric tracks mentions of scientific studies across many media outlets.

Cryo Connect is all about boosting outreach communication in cryospheric sciences, and developing a joint EGU- and AGU-endorsed community outreach platform for cryospheric researchers. So we comb through Altmetric data each year to see which cryospheric studies are garnering top media coverage. Visit to learn how to help boost your cryospheric research, or simply tag @CryoConnect on Twitter.

Cryospheric Top 50

A Nature study that developed a consensus estimate of the mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet garnered the most attention of any cryosphere study in 2018. This study was authored by the 80-author “IMBIE”, or Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise, team. The second most media-featured cryosphere study of 2018 was a Science Advances study, which described an impact crater beneath the Hiawatha Glacier in Northwest Greenland, by Kurt Kjaer and 22 colleagues. The third most media-featured study of 2018 was a Nature study that documented a non-linear increase in meltwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet since the industrial revolution, by Luke Tusel and eight colleagues.

The five most popular scientific journals of the top-50 list are: Nature Communications (9 studies), Geophysical Research Letters (8 studies), Nature (6 studies), and Science Advances and Nature Geoscience (5 studies each). Together, these five journals published two-thirds of the 50-top cryospheric science studies. Perhaps interestingly, Nature Communications and Science Advances are both relatively new journals — both less than eight years old — that provide gold open-access venues. Both EGU (The Cryosphere) and AGU (Geophysical Research Letters) journals are featured on the top-50 list.

There is a notable year-on-year increase in Altmetric scores comprising the top-50 list. At the low end, the rank #50 cut-off Altmetric score increased from 201 in 2017 to 292 in the 2018 list presented here. At the high end, the rank #1 Altmetric score increased from 1330 in 2017 to 3388 in 2018. Overall, the average top-50 Altmetric score increased from 442 in 2017 to 744 in 2018. We used the same methodology, described below, to generate the 2017 and 2018 top-50 lists.

It is difficult to precisely explain this year-on-year increase in Altmetric scores within the cryospheric sciences. There could be an increasing trend in cryosphere science coverage in the media, or improved detection of media coverage by Altmetric, or perhaps 2018 just had an unusually strong batch of cryospheric studies published. In any case, we congratulate all the authors of 2018’s top media-covered cryospheric studies on the well-deserved media attention that they have received, and the exposure they have given to cryospheric science!

Rank (Altmetric attention score)*Publication titleJournal
1 (3388)Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017Nature
2 (2873)A large impact crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northwest GreenlandScience Advances
3 (1984)Nonlinear rise in Greenland runoff in response to post-industrial Arctic warmingNature
4 (1724)Viable nematodes from late Pleistocene permafrost of the Kolyma River Lowland, DokladyBiological Sciences
5 (1658)Arctic sea ice is an important temporal sink and means of transport for microplasticNature Communications
6 (1654)Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudesScience
7 (1504)Direct evidence of surface exposed water ice in the lunar polar regionsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
8 (1323)Warm Arctic episodes linked with increased frequency of extreme winter weather in the United StatesNature Communications
9 (1305)Net retreat of Antarctic glacier grounding linesNature Geoscience
10 (1014)The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets under 1.5 °C global warmingNature Climate Change
11 (815)Trends and connections across the Antarctic cryosphereNature
12 (790)Permafrost stores a globally significant amount of mercuryGeophysical Research Letters
13 (740)Near-surface environmentally forced changes in the Ross Ice Shelf observed with ambient seismic noiseGeophysical Research Letters
14 (729)Reduced probability of ice-free summers for 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C warmingNature Climate Change
15 (703)21st-century modeled permafrost carbon emissions accelerated by abrupt thaw beneath lakesNature Communications
16 (700)Observed rapid bedrock uplift in Amundsen Sea Embayment promotes ice-sheet stabilityScience
17 (691)Formation of metre-scale bladed roughness on Europa’s surface by ablation of iceNature Geoscience
18 (641)On the propagation of acoustic–gravity waves under elastic ice sheetsJournal of Fluid Mechanics
19 (604)The influence of Arctic amplification on mid-latitude summer circulationNature Communications
20 (599)Topographic steering of enhanced ice flow at the bottleneck between East and West AntarcticaGeophysical Research Letters
21 (559)Warming of the interior Arctic Ocean linked to sea ice losses at the basin marginsScience Advances
22 (516)Evidence of an active volcanic heat source beneath the Pine Island GlacierNature Communications
23 (508)Experimental evidence for superionic water ice using shock compressionNature Physics
24 (506)Variation in rising limb of Colorado River snowmelt runoff hydrograph controlled by dust radiative forcing in snowGeophysical Research Letters
25 (491)Vulnerability of Arctic marine mammals to vessel traffic in the increasingly ice-free Northwest Passage and Northern Sea RouteProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
26 (484)Stopping the flood: could we use targeted geoengineering to mitigate sea level rise?The Cryosphere
27 (469)Limited influence of climate change mitigation on short-term glacier mass lossNature Climate Change
28 (468)Degrading permafrost puts Arctic infrastructure at risk by mid-centuryNature Communications
29 (450)Seismology gets under the skin of the Antarctic Ice SheetGeophysical Research Letters
30 (448)Dark zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet controlled by distributed biologically-active impuritiesNature Communications
31 (444)Freshening by glacial meltwater enhances melting of ice shelves and reduces formation of Antarctic Bottom WaterScience Advances
32 (423)Ice core records of west Greenland melt and climate forcingGeophysical Research Letters
33 (413)Arctic warming hotspot in the northern Barents Sea linked to declining sea-ice importNature Climate Change
34 (406)Path-dependent reductions in CO2 emission budgets caused by permafrost carbon releaseNature Geoscience
35 (403)Discovery of a hypersaline subglacial lake complex beneath Devon Ice Cap, Canadian ArcticScience Advances
36 (392)Cascading lake drainage on the Greenland Ice Sheet triggered by tensile shock and fractureNature Communications
37 (345)Global sea-level contribution from Arctic land ice: 1971–2017Environmental Research Letters
38 (328)Discovery of moganite in a lunar meteorite as a trace of H2O ice in the Moon’s regolithScience Advances
39 (326)The world’s largest High Arctic lake responds rapidly to climate warmingNature Communications
40 (320)Mass loss of Totten and Moscow University Glaciers, East Antarctica, using regionally optimized GRACE masconsGeophysical Research Letters
41 (316)A 400-Year ice core melt layer record of summertime warming in the Alaska RangeJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
42 (314)What drives 20th century polar motion?Earth & Planetary Science Letters
43 (313)Response of Pacific-sector Antarctic ice shelves to the El Niño/Southern OscillationNature Geoscience
44 (308)Dynamic response of Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet to potential collapse of Larsen C and George VI ice shelvesThe Cryosphere
44 (308)Increased West Antarctic and unchanged East Antarctic ice discharge over the last 7 yearsThe Cryosphere
46 (306)Change in future climate due to Antarctic meltwaterNature
47 (304)Heterogeneous and rapid ice loss over the Patagonian Ice Fields revealed by CryoSat-2 swath radar altimetryRemote Sensing of Environment
48 (303)Antarctic ice shelf disintegration triggered by sea ice loss and ocean swellNature
49 (298)Persistent polar ocean warming in a strategically geoengineered climateNature Geoscience
50 (292)Ice loss from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during late Pleistocene interglacialsNature

*These Altmetric data were collected on 22 March 2019. As papers will continue to receive media attention, also as a result of this blog post, the Altmetric attention score and ranking are expected to change after this date.


The top-50 cryospheric articles list was compiled using access to the Altmetric Explorer database provided by Altmetric. Similar to the 2017 top-50 list of cryospheric studies, we searched Altmetric Explorer for all peer-reviewed articles published between 1 January and 31 December 2018 that were within the field-of-research codes for Atmospheric Science (0401), Geochemistry (0402), Geology (0403), Geophysics (0404), Physical Geography and Environmental Science (0406), Environmental Science and Management (0502), Soil Sciences (0503) or Other Environmental Sciences (0599). We further limited qualifying articles to those with keywords of Antarctic, Arctic, Cryosphere, Firn, Frozen, Glacier, Glaciology, Ice, Iceberg, Permafrost, Polar and Snow. The resulting articles were then ranked by Altmetric score. Please contact us if you have questions about methodology or oversights.

This blog has been cross-posted on the EGU Cryospheric Sciences blog.

Top 50 of cryosphere papers in the media: 2017

The media are crucial for the impact that scientific studies make. To discover which publications in scientific journals were most successful in attracting media attention, here we list the cryosphere science top 50 of papers published in 2017.

The efforts of scientific publishing

Scientists work for months, sometimes years even, to publish their findings in scientific journals. For cryosphere scientists, this work involves collecting observational data in the most extreme of environments, or handling huge datasets while attempting to filter out the information most essential to their research. After all this work is condensed into a handful of graphics, and described in a few thousand words rewritten over and over again for it to contain the maximum amount of factual information per page, the manuscripts are submitted to journals. These journals invite two or three other scientists (“peers”) to have a good look at the work, anonymously and unpaid, and advise the journal editor on whether the manuscript is worthy of publication. If it isn’t, the authors need to go back to the drawing board, and sometimes even start anew.

Although time consuming, and often utterly demotivating to those that entered science purely out of interest of unravelling nature’s mysteries, publication is a must for scientist. Without the journals as communication platforms, scientists’ work can go unnoticed even by fellow scientists.

Science making an impact

But getting noticed among scientists isn’t the ultimate goal. There is a large role for the media in getting the essence of the findings across to the larger public. Whether this is through newspapers, TV, blogs, Twitter, or Youtube, it all counts. Altmetric keeps an eye on many of these media outlets to assess the attention score of scientific publications, as a measure of how well they get noticed by the general public. And since Cryo Connect is all about boosting science communication, we compiled a list of the cryosphere publications receiving the most attention in the media in 2017. The colors of the Altmetric badges represent the different types of media coverage.

Colors of the Altmetric badge explained. Click for more information.

Top 50

The most media attention for any cryosphere study in 2017 went out to a publication in the renown journal Nature Geoscience on how changes in one of Canada’s largest glaciers caused an abrupt change in the regional drainage pattern of meltwater, written by Daniel H. Shugar and 6 colleagues. Second came a paper in Science Advances by Eric Larour and 2 others on how glacier meltwater affects sea-level rise differently across the planet. Third was a Nature Climate Change study on the “Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice” by Qinghua Ding with 10 contributing authors.

Seventy percent of all top-ranking papers were published in only 7 journals: Nature (8), Geophysical Research Letters (7), Nature Climate Change (6), Science Advances (4), Proceedings of the National Academy of the U.S.A. (4), Science (3), and the Journal of Glaciology (3). About 30% of all top-50 publications feature Antarctic ice. Considerable attention also goes out to the Arctic, to sea ice in particular. Five studies discuss extraterrestrial ice – more than the number of top-50 papers on mountain glaciers!

Here’s the list. We congratulate these publications’ (and all other) authors with the well-deserved media attention they received, after investing so much time and effort into trying to understand the immensely complicated system that is the cryosphere. Note that the Altmetric attention scores in this list will be updated automatically as the studies continue to receive more media attention.

Rank Altmetric attention score Publication title Journal
1 River piracy and drainage basin reorganization led by climate-driven glacier retreat Nature Geoscience
2 Should coastal planners have concern over where land ice is melting? Science Advances
3 Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice Nature Climate Change
4 Future loss of Arctic sea-ice cover could drive a substantial decrease in California’s rainfall Nature Communications
5 Snow precipitation on Mars driven by cloud-induced night-time convection Nature Geoscience
6 Climate change drives expansion of Antarctic ice-free habitat Nature
7 An englacial hydrologic system of brine within a cold glacier: Blood Falls, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica Journal of Glaciology
8 Widespread movement of meltwater onto and across Antarctic ice shelves Nature
9 Increased nitrous oxide emissions from Arctic peatlands after permafrost thaw Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
10 Arctic ice management Earth’s Future
11 Mass gains of the Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses Journal of Glaciology
12 Decreasing cloud cover drives the recent mass loss on the Greenland Ice Sheet Science Advances
13 Antarctic ice shelf potentially stabilized by export of meltwater in surface river Nature
14 Evolving understanding of Antarctic ice-sheet physics and ambiguity in probabilistic sea-level projections Earth’s Future
15 Recently amplified arctic warming has contributed to a continual global warming trend Nature Climate Change
16 Massive blow-out craters formed by hydrate-controlled methane expulsion from the Arctic seafloor Science
17 How much can we save? Impact of different emission scenarios on future snow cover in the Alps The Cryosphere
18 Porosity and salt content determine if subduction can occur in Europa’s ice shell Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets
19 Holocene variability in sea ice cover, primary production, and Pacific-Water inflow and climate change in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas (Arctic Ocean) Journal of Quaternary Science
20 Arctic sea-ice decline weakens the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation Nature Climate Change
21 Industrial-age doubling of snow accumulation in the Alaska Range linked to tropical ocean warming Scientific Reports
22 Evidence of marine ice-cliff instability in Pine Island Bay from iceberg-keel plough marks Nature
23 Historically unprecedented global glacier decline in the early 21st century Journal of Glaciology
24 Increasing frequency and duration of Arctic winter warming events Geophysical Research Letters
25 Greater role for Atlantic inflows on sea-ice loss in the Eurasian Basin of the Arctic Ocean Science
26 Impact of a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius on Asia’s glaciers Nature
27 Arctic sea ice, Eurasia snow, and extreme winter haze in China Science Advances
28 Candidate volcanic and impact-induced ice depressions on Mars Icarus
29 Impact crater morphology and the structure of Europa’s ice shell Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets
30 The far reach of ice-shelf thinning in Antarctica Nature Climate Change
31 Enhanced CO2 uptake at a shallow Arctic Ocean seep field overwhelms the positive warming potential of emitted methane Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
32 Effect of snow salinity on CryoSat-2 Arctic first-year sea ice freeboard measurements Geophysical Research Letters
33 Initiation and long-term instability of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet Nature
34 Influence of a West Antarctic mantle plume on ice sheet basal conditions Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
35 Preliminary paleoenvironmental analysis of permafrost deposits at Batagaika megaslump, Yana Uplands, northeast Siberia Quaternary Research
36 Changes in Greenland’s peripheral glaciers linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation Nature Climate Change
37 Wind causes Totten Ice Shelf melt and acceleration Science Advances
38 Algae drive enhanced darkening of bare ice on the Greenland ice sheet Geophysical Research Letters
39 Increased ice flow in Western Palmer Land linked to ocean melting Geophysical Research Letters
40 West Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat driven by Holocene warm water incursions Nature
41 Direct measurements of meltwater runoff on the Greenland ice sheet surface Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
42 The projected demise of Barnes Ice Cap: evidence of an unusually warm 21st century Arctic Geophysical Research Letters
43 New evidence for surface water ice in small-scale cold traps and in three large craters at the north polar region of Mercury from the Mercury Laser Altimeter Geophysical Research Letters
44 Localized rapid warming of West Antarctic subsurface waters by remote winds Nature Climate Change
45 Asia’s glaciers are a regionally important buffer against drought Nature
46 Abundant pre-industrial carbon detected in Canadian Arctic headwaters: implications for the permafrost carbon feedback Environmental Research Letters
47 Cordilleran Ice Sheet mass loss preceded climate reversals near the Pleistocene Termination Science
48 Channelized melting drives thinning under a rapidly melting Antarctic ice shelf Geophysical Research Letters
49 Consequences of rapid ice sheet melting on the Sahelian population vulnerability Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.
50 Mass budget of the glaciers and ice caps of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Canada, from 1991 to 2015 Environmental Research Letters