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Leading Antarctic researcher wins global award - 11/07/2014

Professor Tim Naish, Director of Victoria University of Wellington’s Antarctic Research Centre, has received a prestigious international award for his outstanding research into understanding Antarctica’s response to past and present climate change and the role of Antarctica’s ice sheets in global sea-level change through time.

Tim Naish

Professor Naish, who is also a Principal Scientist at GNS Science, has become the first New Zealand recipient of the Martha T Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica. This international award for Antarctic science is funded by the Tinker Foundation and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The award recognises significant and sustained contribution to Antarctic scientific research and policy.

Professor Naish receives US$100,000 in prize money with the award which will be presented in Auckland next month when New Zealand hosts the biennial SCAR Open Science Conference.

He says he is thrilled and honoured to receive the 2014 Muse Prize, which reflects the combined efforts of a much larger group.

“That includes my friends and colleagues at the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University and at GNS Science as well as a fantastic network of national and international collaborators.

“The nature of Antarctic research is multidisciplinary, expensive and logistically complex and can only really be achieved through multinational collaboration and the pooling of resources. I have been privileged to have worked with some of the world’s best scientists on some very important questions about how Antarctica’s ice sheets respond to climate change and contribute to rising global sea-levels,” he says.

“The policy relevance of Antarctica is hard to ignore, given that the contribution of its ice sheets to future sea-level rise is still one of the biggest uncertainties facing humanity.

“While there is still a lot more work to do, over the last 10 years the international research community has made major progress in understanding how the highly vulnerable marine-based parts of the Antarctic ice sheet respond to climate change and particularly to a warming Southern Ocean.

“It is a privilege to have contributed in some small way to this effort.”

Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Beggs, said the recognition of Professor Naish as a global research leader was a major boost for New Zealand’s Antarctic endeavours.

“New Zealand is acknowledged as a leading collaborator in Antarctic science and policy and it is a significant achievement for an individual scientist to be recognised by his scientific peers with such a prestigious award,” Mr Beggs said.

The presentation of the Martha T Muse prize will be a highlight of the SCAR Open Science Conference which will be attended by about 1000 of the world’s leading Antarctic science and policy experts in Auckland between August 25 and 28.

To find out more about the Tinker Foundation visit www.tinker.org