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About Us

Our Beginning

The purpose of the Antarctic Science Platform is to conduct excellent science to understand Antarctica’s impact on the global earth system, and how this might change in a +2°C (Paris Agreement) world. Funding was announced in the 2017 Budget for a new Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF) for Antarctic science. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment invited Antarctica New Zealand to develop a plan to host the Antarctic Science Platform.

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement is a global agreement on climate change ratified by 195 countries. New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement on the 4th of October 2016 and the agreement entered into force a month later on the 4th of November.

The purpose is to limit warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and perhaps 1.5°C. To achieve this requires a reduction in emissions to 19 Gigatons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent per year (Gt CO2e/yr) by 2030. Current pledges amount to 52 to 58 Gt CO2 equivalent per year.

Current pledges lead to an increase of global temperature of +3.2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Current policies led to a warming of +3.4 +3.2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Consequences in a Paris Agreement world

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produced a Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

Some key conclusions from the report are

  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society
  • Human activities caused ~1.0 °C warming (range 0.8-1.2°C)
  • Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052
  • Without largescale CO2 removal, emissions need to decline well before 2030 to limit global warming below 1.5°C

Efforts to monitor greenhouse gas emission reductions

The United Nations Environment 2018 Emission Gap Report assesses national mitigation efforts and ambitions to achieve the Paris Agreement. It particularly looks at the Emission Gap – the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030, compared to levels that are consistent with a 1.5 or 2°C warming above pre-industrial levels.

The report found

  • Global emissions have reached historic levels at 53.5 GtCO2e per year
  • If the emission gap is not closed by 2030, it is extremely unlikely that the 2°C temperature goal can still be reached
  • Only 57 counties (representing 60% of global emissions) are on track to peak emissions by 2030
  • Nations must raise their ambitions by 3 times to meet the 2°C and 5 times to meet the 1.5°C goal

Our Leadership

Nancy Bertler photo

Antarctic Science Platform Director: Associate Professor Nancy Bertler

Nancy has led 13 field expeditions in Antarctica and major initiatives to investigate climate history using Antarctic ice cores. She is best known for her leadership of the 9-nation Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution Programme (RICE). Nancy is an Associate Professor at the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington and a Senior Scientist at GNS Science. She has served as the inaugural chair of Antarctic Climate 21, an international initiative by the Scientific Committee of Antarctic Research (SCAR) to improve 21st Century projections for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.


Antarctica New Zealand Acting Chief Scientific Advisor: Dr Fiona Shanhun

Fiona has been involved in Antarctic research for over 14 years and has led field expeditions with both the New Zealand and Australian programmes. Her PhD focused on Antarctic Dry Valley soils and she joined Antarctica New Zealand in 2014. Fiona now leads the science team, supporting the delivery of world-class research and the communication of research findings. She is a former Scientific Committee on Antarctic Fellow and leads New Zealand’s annual Ross Sea Adélie penguin census which began in the early 1980s.

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Programme 1 Leader: Professor Tim Naish

A Professor in Earth Sciences at the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Tim has participated in over 14 expeditions to Antarctica. He was the director of the Antarctic Research Centre between 2008 and 2017 before taking up a Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Fellowship. His research focuses on past, present and future climate change with specific emphasis on how the Antarctic ice sheets respond to climate change and influence global sea-level. Tim helped found ANDRILL, and holds leadership positions in the World Climate Research Program and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

Ian Hawes

Programme 2 Leader: Professor Ian Hawes

A Professor of Aquatic Science at the University of Waikato, Ian has been involved in polar research for 40 years. He initially worked with the British Antarctic Survey and, since moving to NZ in 1989, has been involved in research into inland and coastal waters in the Ross Sea Region. He has worked with a range of national operators in Arctic and Antarctic settings and maintains an extensive network of international collaborators. His research focus is on understanding change in Antarctic ecosystems. He coordinates the ecosystems research program.


Antarctic Science Platform Manager: Caroline Pratt

Caroline is a Research Management professional with around 25 years experience in several research environments, including a Centre of Research Excellence, Lincoln University, The University of Auckland, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research and a Private Research Provider. She has a well-developed track record of positive engagement with the scientific community in New Zealand and brings a science management background to the Antarctic Science Platform. She is also a long-standing member of the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) and in 2017, became the first New Zealander to gain Advanced Level Accreditation with the Society. She now holds dual accreditation at both Foundation and Advanced Level.

Independent Science Panel

Steering Group

Impact Statements