Pic from fi

Project 1- Antarctic Ice Dynamics

Project 1- Antarctic Ice Dynamics

Project One will focus on understanding past and current drivers, mechanisms and feedbacks of ice sheet retreat to inform projections of future change. The project will require retrieval of past CO2 records to better understand Antarctica’s climate and ice sheet configuration during previous warm periods.

The project will focus on the questions:

  1. How will marine-based ice sheets respond to a +2°C world?
  2. What are the effects of this response?
  3. What are the consequences of surpassing +2°C

From the field 2019/20

Drilling more 600 metres through the world’s largest ice shelf at the Siple Coast

Drilling at Siple Coast

Event numbers 862 and K863

Field teams working to understand the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf during past warm periods had a hugely successful season at the Siple Coast at the Kamb Ice Stream. After geophysical surveys were carried out, the team reached a critical milestone, successfully using hot water to drill 600 metres through the ice shelf. An ocean mooring was deployed in the cavity below that will take continuous measurements over the coming years. Scientists obtained the first images from under the ice shelf from a high definition camera and marine sediment cores were retrieved. The team also worked with US collaborators to deploy the Icefin, a sleek under-ice oceanographic robot, through the drill hole to survey the ocean cavity below.

The Siple Coast is nearly 1000 kilometres from Scott Base, this multidisciplinary research is supported by a traverse across the Ross Ice Shelf, and scientists are flown in.

As well as Antarctica New Zealand field support staff, it involves an impressive team of researchers from Victoria University of Wellington, GNS Science, the University of Otago and NIWA.

Dating rock exposure to unlock ice sheet retreat, Byrd Glacier


Event number K861

Based at Scott Base and making daily trips to the Byrd Glacier, a team of researchers carried out rock sampling to study glacial reteat. By investigating the age of the rocks in the region, cosmogenic dating allows scientists to measure how long the rocks have been exposed, or ice-free. Determining the age of these samples will help reveal rates of change in ice elevation and how quickly ice mass may be lost in a warming world.

Installing GPS stations on the Ross Ice Shelf

Project One GPS on RIS

Event number K045

A team from Victoria University of Wellington successfully deployed two GPS Stations on the front of the Ross Ice Shelf at Coulman High. These permanent stations will investigate how fast the ice is moving and how this flow pattern is slowing and accelerating. The initial plan was for five stations, but weather delays only allowed the team to access two sites this season.

The Scientists

Levy Friis Hills

Lead Principal Investigator: Richard Levy

Richard started his Antarctic research career with the US in the early 90’s and has been involved in New Zealand led research since 2009. He is currently the Environment and Climate Theme Leader at GNS Science and an Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington. Richard is fascinated by the history of our planet and how our Earth system has evolved through time. Understanding how Antarctica has changed through time is a focus of his research, he says the fact this knowledge can help the world prepare for, and adapt to, climate change makes it all the more rewarding.

For more information about Richard’s research background please click here

Huw Horgan

Co-Principal Investigator: Huw Horgan

Huw has been part of and led 12 polar seasons in Antarctica and Greenland, and has been involved in Antarctic research since the early 2000s. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Geophysical Glaciology at Victoria University of Wellington’s Antarctic Research Centre. With a specific interest in the mechanics of rapid ice flow, Huw says Antarctica has the potential to dramatically change sea level within our lifetimes.

For more information about Huw’s research background please click here

Early Career Researchers