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.

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
24 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
43 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
46 Cordilleran Ice Sheet mass loss preceded climate reversals near the Pleistocene Termination Science
46 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