Polar Oceans team

Our ambition

Is to understand the role of the oceans in influencing the polar ice caps, and regional climate change caused by shifts in ocean circulation.  Our aim is to reduce uncertainty in scientific predictions for a future world and to provide Government with scientific assessment of how these issues will affect the everyday lives of people in decades to come.

Deployment of a CTD instrumentation from RRS James Clark Ross during the JR240 ICEbell science cruise in the Bellingshausen Sea
Deployment of a CTD instrumentation from RRS James Clark Ross during a science cruise in the Bellingshausen Sea

Our two research groups (Open Oceans and Shelf Seas) focus  on the rapidly-changing regions of West Antarctica and Greenland, on other polar areas where the current rates of change appear slower but which may be susceptible to dramatic changes in future, and on the broader deep ocean areas of both the Arctic and the Southern Ocean.  The British Antarctic Survey has unique capability in these research areas, including leadership of interdisciplinary teams that work across the boundaries of glaciology, oceanography and climate science.

Team priorities


  • The role of the ocean in melting the polar ice caps. To measure, simulate and understand the global implications of the polar changes and the influencing of ice shelves and ice sheet stability.
  • The vigorous-overturning in the regions of  water mass renewal close to Antarctica and in the Arctic. To improve knowledge of the role played by the polar oceans in exchanging heat and carbon with the atmosphere, in storing them in the ocean interior, and the impacts that these processes have on the climatic evolution of the planet.
  • Reduce uncertainty concerning the future trends in climate and sea level. To conduct specific process models and regional ocean model experiments, and work with partners to simulate and understand the global implications of the polar changes.

Technology, innovation and training

  • Use a range of advanced technology, including some developed in-house to fulfil specific requirements
  • Targeted numerical modelling studies and dynamical analyses
  • Ship-based and autonomous marine platforms, along with instrumentation deployed on and through ice shelves in both polar regions.

Influencing and leading international programmes

  • Work with leading UK and international partners who conduct Arctic and Antarctic research, including those that are involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Stakeholder engagement

  • Provide advice and briefings to science advisors within UK Government Departments, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Engage with business groups and actively seek partnerships that help shape the development of science projects.

Public engagement

  • Disseminate our findings, published in the highest-impact journals, through presentations in leading national and international forums, and via numerous public engagement activities.

Povl Abrahamsen

Observational Oceanographer

Paul Anker

Drilling Engineer/Marine Tech

Emma Boland

Physical Oceanographer

Alexander Brearley

Independent Research Fellow

Anthony Drysdale

PHD Student

Sudipta Goswami

Ocean & Climate Model Manager

Paul Holland

Shelf Seas Group Leader

Adrian Jenkins

Science Programme Coordinator

Dan Jones

Physical Oceanographer (Adjoint Modelling)

James Jordan

Ocean/Ice Modeller

Keith Makinson


Andrew Meijers

Physical Oceanographer

Michael Meredith

Science Leader

Ruth Mugford

Ocean/Ice Modeller

Dave Munday

Physical Oceanographer

Keith Nicholls


Ryan Patmore

PHD Student

Heather Regan

PHD Student

Deb Shoosmith


Emily Shuckburgh

Dynamical Oceanographer

Hugh Venables

RaTS Project Manager

Emma Young

Ocean & Biophysical Modeller


Understanding the Ocean Regulation of Climate by Heat, Carbon Sequestration and Transports


In recent years, adjoint methods have been used to gain unique insights into the ocean and cryosphere. However, the use of adjoint models on large-scale problems suitable for high-performance computing …

A23 repeat section

Understanding Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) and its affect on global ocean circulation.


The Rothera Time Series (RaTS) is now one of the most important time series in the Southern Ocean, with the winter-time measurements being almost unique and of very high importance. …


TEA_COSI assesses Arctic Sea-ice which has an important impact on currents and ocean circulations around the globe

SHIP BLOG: Sea ice, science, and wildlife

10 April, 2016 by Dan Jones

Investigating the Southern Ocean Oceanographers Dan Jones and Erik MacKie are onboard the RRS James Clark Ross carrying out a hydrographic survey in the Southern Ocean as part of a …

Nature’s ocean fertiliser

20 September, 2016

Scientists have discovered that Antarctic krill – a tiny shrimp-like crustacean – plays a key role in fertilising the Southern Ocean with iron, which stimulates the growth of phytoplankton, the …

Ocean warming primary cause of glacier retreat

14 July, 2016

A new study has found for the first time that ocean warming is the primary cause of retreat of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula. The Peninsula is one of the largest current contributors to sea-level rise and this new finding will enable researchers to make better predictions of ice loss from this region.

Wind-blown Antarctic sea ice helps drive ocean circulation

27 June, 2016

Antarctic sea ice is constantly on the move as powerful winds blow it away from the coast and out toward the open ocean. A new study published today in the journal Nature Geoscience (Monday 27 June) shows how that ice migration may be more important for the global ocean circulation than anyone realized.

NEWS STORY: New Year’s Honours

1 January, 2016

Dr Emily Shuckburgh, British Antarctic Survey’s Deputy Head of Polar Oceans, was among those named in the New Year’s Honours List.  She has been awarded an OBE for services to …

PRESS RELEASE: Ice shelf at double risk

13 May, 2015

New study shows Antarctic ice shelf is thinning from above and below A decade-long scientific debate about what’s causing the thinning of one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves is settled …

NEWS STORY: Columns widespread in Southern Ocean

5 March, 2015

Oceanographers discover ‘Taylor columns’ are widespread in Southern Ocean according to new research published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research Lead author Professor Mike Meredith, a Senior Oceanographer at …

PRESS RELEASE: Mapping the ice from below

24 November, 2014

Underwater robot sheds new light on Antarctic sea ice The first detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice have been developed using an underwater robot. Scientists from the UK, …

PRESS RELEASE: New marine life atlas

25 August, 2014

New Atlas of Southern Ocean marine life A new atlas, providing the most thorough audit of marine life in the Southern Ocean, is published this week by the Scientific Committee …

NEWS STORY: Southern Ocean dynamics

2 June, 2014

The Southern Ocean: new insights into circulation, carbon and climate A special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A has been published today (Monday 2 June) which …

NEWS STORY: Crucial conditions for phytoplankton

16 March, 2014

Winter conditions crucial for phytoplankton growth in Southern Ocean An international team of researchers, including the British Antarctic Survey, has found new evidence that winter conditions in the Southern Ocean …

NEWS STORY: New research on ocean currents

22 December, 2013

New research sheds light on history of polar current Research conducted by a team that included scientists from British Antarctic Survey reveals the ocean current moving around the South Pole …

NEWS STORY: Submerged mountains aid ocean mixing

18 September, 2013

Undersea mountains provide crucial piece in climate prediction puzzle A mystery in the ocean near Antarctica has been solved by researchers who have long puzzled over how deep and mid-depth …

NEWS STORY: New academic role for expert

22 May, 2013

Honorary Professorship for BAS polar ocean expert Michael Meredith Polar ocean expert, Michael Meredith, has been made an honorary Professor by the University of the Highlands and Islands. The professorship …

NEWS STORY: New post for oceans expert

7 February, 2013

Professor Michael Meredith joins the Scottish Association for Marine Science Eminent Antarctic oceanographer, Professor Michael Meredith this week joined the staff at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) on …

NEWS STORY: Insights into icebergs

29 October, 2012

Scientists discover new mechanism at work breaking-up icebergs An international team of scientists has discovered a  previously unknown mechanism by which large tabular icebergs break up out at sea as …

NEWS STORY: Ocean sampling at Rothera

20 August, 2012

Ocean sampling: Rothera, Antarctic Peninsula: last but not least! Are the World’s oceans all the same, or are they different? OK at the most basic level, we all know that …

PRESS RELEASE: Ocean role as carbon sink

29 July, 2012

New discovery of how carbon is stored in the Southern Ocean A team of British and Australian scientists has discovered an important method of how carbon is drawn down from …


17 July, 2012

Scientists take part in BBC expedition “Operation Iceberg” This summer two British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists head to the Arctic to take part in the BBC expedition ‘Operation Iceberg’. Oceanographers …

PRESS RELEASE: Ocean currents driving ice loss

25 April, 2012

Warm ocean currents cause majority of ice loss from Antarctica Reporting this week (Thursday 26 April) in the journal Nature, an international team of scientists led by British Antarctic Survey …

PRESS RELEASE: Glacier’s melt rate quickens

27 June, 2011

Warm ocean speeds melting of Antarctic glacier New results from an investigation into a large glacier in Antarctica and its impact on global sea level rise are published this week …

PRESS RELEASE: Growing evidence of carbon impact

22 February, 2011

Captain Scott’s century-old collections suggest marine life is capturing more carbon Tiny Antarctic marine creatures collected 100 years ago by Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott give new clues about …

PRESS RELEASE: Ridge contributes to melting

20 June, 2010

New research sheds light on Antarctica”s melting Pine Island Glacier New results from an investigation into Antarctica’s potential contribution to sea level rise are reported this week (Sunday 20 June) …

PRESS RELEASE: Sonar images reveal seabed

5 May, 2009

New Antarctic seabed sonar images reveal clues to sea-level rise Motorway-sized troughs and channels carved into Antarctica’s continental shelves by glaciers thousands of years ago could help scientists to predict …

PRESS RELEASE: Surveying below the ice

17 March, 2009

Robot submarine searches for signs of melting under Antarctic Ice Shelf A team of British and American scientists has successfully deployed an autonomous robot submarine on six missions beneath an …

SHIP BLOG: Sea ice, science, and wildlife

10 April, 2016 by Dan Jones

Investigating the Southern Ocean Oceanographers Dan Jones and Erik MacKie are onboard the RRS James Clark Ross carrying out a hydrographic survey in the Southern Ocean as part of a …