2 February, 2007

2 February 2007 PR No. 3/2007

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) welcomes the carefully considered and rigorous set of statements in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: The Physical Science Basis fourth report published today 2 February 2007.

BAS applauds the major effort that the world’s scientists have contributed to the IPCC. BAS scientists note the IPCC conclusions and agree that major uncertainties exist regarding the impact of human-induced climate change on the Polar Regions. BAS endorses strongly the WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud’s commitment to the forthcoming International Polar Year 2007-2008 in which British Antarctic Survey is playing a leading role.

Director of BAS, Professor Chris Rapley CBE says,

‘We recognise importance and urgency of resolving current uncertainties about the reaction of the Polar Regions to climate warming and the consequences worldwide, especially the magnitude and rate of the contribution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to global sea level rise. This issue is a central part of the current BAS science programme and the IPY.’

Issued by the British Antarctic Survey Press Office.

Linda Capper, tel: +44 (0)1223 221448  ; mob: 07714 233744  ; email: L.Capper@bas.ac.uk

Athena Dinar, tel: +44 (0)1223 221414  , mob:07740 822229  , email: a.dinar@bas.ac.uk

Notes for Editors:

Pictures: stills and broadcast-quality footage of Antarctica are available from the BAS Press Office

British Antarctic Survey is a world leader in research into global issues in an Antarctic context. It is the UK’s national operator and is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. It has an annual budget of around £40 million, runs nine research programmes and operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica. More information about the work of the Survey can be found at: www.antarctica.ac.uk

The UK launch of International Polar Year takes place on Monday 26 February 2007 at the Royal Society, London. For more information contact the BAS Press Office.

The IPCC WGI Summary for policymakers has highlighted that uncertainty dynamical response of ice sheets is the major outstanding uncertainty in sea-level prediction.

This assessment has emerged so strongly because recent scientific advances from BAS and other scientific institutions show climate influencing ice sheets much more rapidly than was considered likely even a few years ago. Our understanding is increasing fast, but obstacles remains in trying to predict the response of marine ice sheets to such extreme rates of change, when no observable parallel exists on Earth today. The geological record shows that in the past ice sheets have collapsed rapidly and caused rapid sea-level rise but this does not provide sufficient understanding about which processes were to blame, to state clearly how vulnerable today’s ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are.

The BAS science programme GRADES is a five-year effort aimed at reducing uncertainty in the future of the highly vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This improvement will be achieved by increasing the quality of numerical simulations, field studies to understand better the processes that control ice-sheet evolution and sampling to improve the geological record of past deglaciation events in Antarctica.