Theme 3: Solid Earth-Cryosphere Interaction

Assessing the contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to sea level since the Last Glacial Maximum (~20,000 years ago) via geophysical observations and modelling.

Understanding ice sheets is highly strategic for Australia, and scientific capability in this field is limited to a few researchers, primarily based in Hobart.

This research will advance our understanding of how the oceans influence basal melting of Antarctic ice shelves and provide estimates of Antarctic ice sheet contributions to sea level change since the Last Glacial Maximum 20,000 years ago. It will review the ice sheet extent, profile its retreat history and identify drivers from solid earth, and the atmosphere and ocean.

The three primary objectives are:

  • To build a clearer picture of changes in the ice and land relationship in the past 20,000 years by creating new and more accurate solid earth and climate scenarios, including the influence of feedbacks in the Antarctic ice sheet.
  • Produce new ice extent and retreat history constraints from available and new land and ocean field measurements; and
  • Determine the evolution of the Antarctic ice sheet in the past 20,000 years to the present, and evaluate from the Last Glacial Maximum to present and its consequent effect on present-day and future changes in the solid earth and sea level by applying a state-of-the-art ice sheet model.

Additionally, this modelling should better quantify how much the East Antarctic Ice Sheet has contributed to sea level since the Last Glacial Maximum.

The overall result will be the development of unique Australian ice sheet modelling capabilities.

Interested in working with this team? PhD Scholarships available now.

Professor Matt King discussing Theme 3

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
September 30, 2015