Why Antarctica Matters


Antarctica is a continent of extremes.  It is the highest, coldest and windiest place on our planet, while snow and ice hold some 70% of our planet’s freshwater. In many places the ice is up to 4.5 kilometres thick, much of which sits below sea level.  If all this ice were to melt, Antarctica has the potential to raise the world's oceans by almost 60 metres. Understanding how Antarctica works is a huge question for global science.


Antarctic science is truly interdisciplinary. Here we focus on the ice sheets and their interaction with the global climate system. Our work in the Ellsworth’s focuses on the study of glaciology and past climate which together draw on a broad sweet of disciplines including chemistry, biochemistry, geology, geomorphology, computer modelling, atmospheric research, oceanography and physics.


To understand the methods and findings of research in the region, it important to learn some basic principals about how Antarctic ice sheets work.