Grégoire Hauser, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Bern, Switzerland
Géraldine Pflieger, Prof., University of Geneva, Switzerland
Stefan Ruchti, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Bern, Switzerland
Anna Scolobig, Dr., University of Geneva, Switzerland
Markus Stoffel, Prof., University of Geneva, Switzerland
Candice Yvon, University of Geneva, Switzerland
The Geneva Cryosphere Hub is the link between Switzerland and the pavilion which will be dedicated to the cryosphere at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1–12, 2021. Switzerland is one of the main partners of the pavilion, where scientific results will be presented throughout COP26 to delegates and officials attending the COP.
The Geneva Cryosphere Hub aims at promoting the work carried out by scientists from Swiss universities and research institutions, in several disciplinary fields related to the cryosphere and at facilitating the dialogue between science, society and policy. More precisely it aims at raising awareness about the critical role played by the Cryosphere, to discuss latest scientific evidence on cryosphere processes and, ultimately, at contributing to enhancing the ambition level to achieve tangible outcomes at COP26.
The cryosphere – that is the frozen components of the Earth system (glaciers, snow and permafrost) – is a key element of the earth system, and climate change is putting the cryosphere irremediably at risk. Why is the cryosphere so important? For example, the vast regions located in high latitudes and at altitude provide freshwater to over half of humanity. Vanishing glaciers and earlier snowmelt will impact runoff in rivers and therefore likely lead to more frequent water shortages in future summers.
On an even larger scale, the melting ice shields of Greenland and Antarctica will ultimately lead to considerable sea level rise, affecting many vulnerable low-lying countries. Together with the retreating Arctic sea ice, changes in these massive ice shields will strongly impact the global climate.
In addition, the thawing of permafrost will release huge amounts of greenhouse gases that have been stored in the ground over millennia, thereby propelling global warming further.
Not all scientists based in Switzerland will travel to Glasgow to attend COP26 as a result of the ongoing pandemic, but also to limit CO2 emissions generated by travelling. The idea of the Geneva Cryosphere Hub from the Swiss Confederation – with the support of the University of Geneva – aims at offering a Swiss-based platform to highlight the crucial role of the cryosphere in a warming climate and to showcase the excellence of Swiss science and expertise in this field. Moreover the city of Geneva hosts a multitude of international United Nations organizations, Non Governmental Organisations and think tanks with extensive knowledge and expertise in the field. The Geneva Cryosphere Hub offers both the opportunity to showcase this knowledge and expertise and to liaise between the actors of international Geneva.
Located in the heart of Geneva, the University of Geneva has the experience and the necessary infrastructure to host this platform dedicated to the cryosphere. The Hub provides a place for permanent exhibits, cultural events, conferences, presentation highlights, webinars, and several
formats of public and scientific events. It also has a strong virtual element, connecting the Glasgow COP26 Pavilion with policymakers, scientists and the general public in Geneva, and worldwide.
Prof. Géraldine Pflieger from the University of Geneva is part of the Swiss delegation in charge of climate negotiations at COP26. As a representative of the scientific community within the delegation, she will speak during COP26 in several formats which will be broadcast from Glasgow to Geneva and online. Prof. Markus Stoffel, chair of the Climate Change Impacts and Risks in the Anthropocene ( C-CIA) group at the University of Geneva, is actively working in different polar and high-elevation regions to study the impacts of climate change in cryosphere environments.