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Professor Peter Barrett

Peter Barrett Peter Barrett is Professor of Geology at Victoria University, Wellington and was the founding Director of the Antarctic Research Centre there (1973-2007). He has had a long and distinguished career in unravelling Antarctic geological history, in his early years studying the Gondwana stratigraphy of the Transantarctic Mountains.

A paper, published in Science in 1968 and reported in Time magazine, recorded his discovery of the first tetrapod remains in Antarctica, supporting the theory of continental drift. In 1972 Peter joined the first DSDP leg to the Antarctic, coring the Antarctic continental shelf for its geological history. He went on to develop further projects to drill the Antarctic margin for understanding ice sheet behaviour since its inception around 34 million years ago. The results provide a guide to its likely behaviour in the face of projected future global warming.

He was for many years New Zealand’s representative on the SCAR Working Group on Geology and also in SCAR’s Group of Specialists on Environmental Affairs and Conservation. He was also first head of the New Zealand delegation to the Antarctic Committee for Environmental Protection. In 2006 he was awarded the SCAR President’s Medal for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in Antarctic Science. He has done much to bring Antarctic science to a wider public audience, including a BBC programme on the history of the Antarctic ice sheet, and to emphasise the importance of Antarctic science in a global context.

He is currently Deputy Director, New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute.

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