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Past Antarctic Climates

Pressure ridges, Scott Base, Antarctica.

Pressure ridges, Scott Base, Antarctica. Photo: Mo Turnbull

Leader: Richard Levy

This GNS Science-led research programme supports New Zealand's participation in ANDRILL, a multinational collaboration comprised of more than 200 scientists, students, and educators from five nations (New Zealand, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) to recover stratigraphic records from the Antarctic margin by drilling beneath the ice shelf. The chief objective is to drill back in time to recover a history of environmental changes that will guide our understanding of how the Antarctic ice sheet responded to past climatic changes, especially during periods of rapid global warming. Future climate scenarios require guidance and constraint from past history that will reveal potential timing, rate, frequency and location of future changes.

The four main initiatives under this programme are:

  • Enhancing Fundamental Capability - Maintenance of New Zealand leadership in the multinational ANDRILL Program; development of New Zealand-led drilling technology at the Scientific Drilling Office (Victoria U.); development of critical scientific approaches and techniques for interpreting and integrating drill core data e.g. biostratigraphy and basin analysis (GNS Science), numerical ice sheet modelling (Victoria U.), paleomagnetics (U. Otago).
  • Direct Records of Antarctic Ice Sheet Behaviour - Obtaining well-dated physical evidence of changes in the Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea-ice over the range of climatic conditions projected by IPCC, 4th Assessment Report.
  • Regional & Continental Scale Integration - Integration of the ANDRILL records of 65-0 Ma glacial and environmental variability with results of previous drill core studies from the Ross Sea and geophysical studies to develop a regional understanding of the glaciological, climatological, oceanographic and geological system in western Ross Embayment.
  • Science Communication and Knowledge Transfer - Uptake of Antarctic climate data and model results by local Stakeholders/end-users and IPCC delegates and incorporation of outcomes into the IPCC AR5 and AR6 reports.