The physical, chemical, and biological processes involving organics in ice in the environment impact a number of atmospheric and biogeochemical cycles. Organic material in snow or ice may be biological in origin, deposited from aerosols or atmospheric gases, or formed chemically in situ. In this manuscript, we review the current state of knowledge regarding the sources, properties, and chemistry of organic materials in environmental ices. Several outstanding questions remain to be resolved and fundamental data gathered before an accurate model of transformations and transport of organic species in the cryosphere will be possible. For example, more information is needed regarding the quantitative impacts of chemical and biological processes, ice morphology, and snow formation on the fate of organic material in cold regions. Interdisciplinary work at the interfaces of chemistry, physics and biology is needed in order to fully characterize the nature and evolution of organics in the cryosphere and predict the effects of climate change on the Earth's carbon cycle.
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