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Climate change and Antarctica: the great ice sheet in the past, present and future

09 November 2016
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The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
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Antarctica: the enigmatic, romantic, remote white continent.

Antarctica lies at the bottom of the world and all waters south of 60°S latitude are designated Antarctic, where no country owns the land and where only scientific and peaceful operations may take place. Unlike the Arctic, where floating sea ice annually melts and refreezes, Antarctica is a solid ice sheet lying on a solid continent.

The Antarctic summer is during the northern Hemisphere winter. Antarctica may be remote and isolated, but the dynamics of the three great Antarctic Ice Sheets (East Antarctica, West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula) affect us all. If all the land ice in Antarctica melted, the world’s sea levels would rise by 58 m.

The West Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula ice sheets are currently undergoing rapid change due to changing ocean currents, wind patterns and air temperatures. Dynamic effects in these smaller two ice sheets may result in rapid sea level rise of up to 3.5 m over the next few hundred years.


Bethan Davies (Royal Holloway, University of London) 

Bethan is a glacial geologist interested in the interaction between glaciers and climate over multiple timescales. She specialises in ice-sheet and glacier reconstruction in temperate and high latitudes, using a combination of field studies, chronostratigraphical methods (especially cosmogenic nuclide dating), remotely sensed data sets and numerical glacier modelling to quantify ice-sheet and ice-shelf history.

She is particularly interested in glacial processes at the ice-bed interface, and uses detailed sedimentological analyses and micromorphology to analyse processes of entertainment, deposition and deformation. Bethan is a lecturer in Physical Geography at Royal Holloway University of London. 


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