Although the polar regions are remote from the world’s major centres of population, processes at work in these regions affect all of us. Exchange of heat and fresh water between the cold polar atmosphere and the underlying oceans is a major driver of the circulation of the atmosphere and the oceans and is thus an important control on global climate.
Vast amounts of fresh water are locked up in Antarctica and Greenland; loss of these areas is now responsible for ~30% of global sea level rise. The biologically-productive polar oceans are important sinks for carbon dioxide and heat. These waters are central to the regulation of global climate.
The polar oceans have long been amongst the least explored and least understood regions on Earth, yet they exert a profound influence over all of the planet. They are the engine of the thermohaline ‘conveyor-belt’, driving global circulation of heat, oxygen, carbon and nutrients as well as setting sea level through change in ice-mass balance.
The globally-connected nature of the oceans and atmosphere makes the Earth System both dynamic and prone to change. We seek to understand the role of atmosphere and oceans in transporting heat around the planet, and the processes by which heat, carbon and momentum are transferred between ocean and atmosphere.
- observation of change in polar oceans, and understanding of key processes in polar oceanography
- improved understanding of the major role played by the Southern Ocean in the uptake of heat and carbon
- the influence of Southern Ocean on global ocean circulation
- identified key poorly understood polar processes in the atmosphere that limit the effectiveness of global models and can cause dramatic local impacts
- improved understanding of atmospheric change
- quantified the influence of key processes in Arctic and Antarctic that impact global weather and climate patterns
Ocean and Atmosphere research projects
Our multidisplinary teams work on a range of programmes and projects including: