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

How are scientists measuring the impacts of CO2 over time? Message from Antarctica sees deputy head of the Polar Oceans Team at the British Antarctic Survey, Emily Shuckburgh, work with award-winning designer, author and illustrator Chris Haughton

Povl Abrahamsen

Observational Oceanographer


Paul Anker

Drilling Engineer/Marine Tech


Emma Boland

Ocean Adjoint Modeller


Alexander Brearley

Independent Research Fellow


Pierre Dutrieux

Shelf Seas Group Leader


Rachel Furner

PhD Student


Paul Holland

Ocean/Ice Scientist IMP 3


Keith Makinson



Andrew Meijers

Science Leader - Polar Oceans


Michael Meredith

Science Leader IMP 2


Dave Munday

Physical Oceanographer


Kaitlin Naughten

Ocean Modeller Amundsen Sea


Keith Nicholls



Jonathan Rosser

PhD Student


Hugh Venables

RaTS Project Manager


Emma Young

Ocean and Biophysical Modeller


Shenjie Zhou

Physical Oceanographer


Rahul Sivankutty

Climate and Ocean Model Data Analyst


Kate Hendry

Ocean Climate Scientist


Yohei Takano

Phys Scientist: Ocean and Carbon Cycle Modeller

ApRES and groundwater

The aim of this study is to investigate whether a technique developed to measure the basal meltrate of ice shelves can be used to monitor groundwater in arid and semi-arid …


Antarctic ice-loss research capability


Reliable projections of the Earth’s climate are at the heart of scientific support for international efforts to address global change. There is increasing recognition that reliable projections require that physical …


Major changes are occurring across the North Atlantic climate system: in the ocean and atmosphere temperatures and circulation, in sea ice thickness and extent, and in key atmospheric constituents such …


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


Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO) is a collaboration between BAS, the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). The project aims to investigate the flow of …

A23 repeat section

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


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


Overview Climate change is proceeding faster at the poles than any other region, with sea-ice retreating, glaciers melting and biotic communities being invaded by sub-polar species. These changes are affecting …


Overview While climate models suggest Antarctic sea ice extent should also reduce in response to rising atmospheric CO2 concentraions, satellite observations reveal that during 1979-2015 the opposite was in fact …


The European Space Agency (ESA) Southern Ocean-Ice Shelf Interactions (SO-ICE) project is a collaborative research project bringing together the ESA Polar+ Ice Shelves and 4D Antarctica projects, and the European …

Antarctic photo nominated in competition

6 December, 2023

The Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition celebrates the power of photography in capturing scientific phenomena happening all around us, and the role great images play in making science accessible to …

Next phase of national climate science partnership

30 November, 2023

Leading UK climate science organisations are driving forwards a national alliance focused on climate solutions for society, led by new co-directors including Professor Michael Meredith from British Antarctic Survey (BAS). …

Scientists track rapid retreat of Antarctic glacier

28 November, 2023

Scientists are warning that apparently stable glaciers in Antarctica can change rapidly and lose large quantities of ice as a result of warmer oceans. Using satellite data, a team discovered …

The changing Southern Ocean: Heat and carbon

8 May, 2023

A series of studies on the Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica, reveal how it is changing. A special issue of the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, led by the …

New close-up view of melting beneath Thwaites Glacier

15 February, 2023

The rapid retreat of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica appears to be driven by different processes under its floating ice shelf than researchers previously understood. Novel observations from where the …

Underwater tsunamis created by glacier calving

23 November, 2022

Scientists on a research vessel in Antarctica watched the front of a glacier disintegrate and their measurements ‘went off the scale’. As well as witnessing disruptions on the ocean surface, …

BBC’s Frozen Planet II: science into television

23 September, 2022

In 2011, Frozen Planet gave BBC viewers an unprecedented insight into life in the Poles. The final episode featured British Antarctic Survey (BAS) glaciologist Dr Andy Smith using explosives to …

Funding addresses environmental challenges

27 June, 2022

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists will investigate critical challenges facing the UK, thanks to new funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). A £47m investment to several UK research …

Heat source melting Greenland Ice Sheet discovered

21 February, 2022

A new study has found that the world’s second-largest ice sheet is generating huge amounts of heat. Researchers including BAS oceanographer Dr Keith Nicholls have observed extremely high rates of melting at the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

IPCC: Polar scientists welcome Climate Change Assessment 

9 August, 2021

CAMBRIDGE: British Antarctic Survey welcomes the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 component of its Sixth Assessment Report.  This assessment brings together the latest advances in …

The world’s largest iceberg

21 May, 2021

An enormous iceberg has calved from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf, in Antarctica. The iceberg, newly named A-76, measures around 4320 sq km in size and is …

End of giant iceberg A-68

19 April, 2021

The mission to determine the impact of the giant A-68a iceberg on the important marine ecosystem of sub-Antarctic South Georgia is a success.

Giant iceberg mission begins

2 February, 2021

A research mission to determine the impact of the giant A-68a iceberg on one of the world’s most important ecosystems departs from Stanley in the Falkland Islands today (2 February …

Fellowship success for leaders of the future

23 April, 2020

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced its latest round of Future Leaders Fellowships today (23 April 2020). Congratulations to Dr Dan Jones and Dr Clara Manno of British Antarctic …

New report reveals state of the planet

26 September, 2019

MONACO: Hundreds of scientists and Government representatives met in Monaco this week to finalise the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a …

Study shows melting ice sheets will disrupt climate

7 February, 2019

Water entering the oceans from melting ice sheets could cause extreme weather and a change in ocean circulation not currently accounted for in global climate policies, a new study published …

Challenger Medal award

13 September, 2018

The prestigious Challenger Medal for excellence in marine science has been awarded to British Antarctic Survey (BAS) oceanographer Professor Mike Meredith. Presented every two years by the Challenger Society – …

Special issue on how oceans are changing

14 May, 2018

The seas around the Antarctic Peninsula are biologically extremely rich, but are climatically sensitive, having experienced some of the fastest warming globally in recent decades. A special issue of the …

Boaty returns from first mission under the ice

13 March, 2018

The yellow high-tech autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), affectionately known as Boaty McBoatface, has successfully returned from an ambitious science expedition deep below half a kilometre of ice. It is the …

BAS Oceanographer selected for Special IPCC Report

17 August, 2017

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has selected Professor Mike Meredith from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to be a coordinating lead author for a Special Report on the Ocean …

New footage shows crack in Larsen C Ice Shelf

21 February, 2017

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) recently captured this video footage of a huge crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, on the Antarctic Peninsula. Currently a huge iceberg, roughly the size …

Local weather plays part in retreat of glacier

17 February, 2017

Local weather plays an important part in the retreat of the ice shelves in West Antarctica, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications today (Friday 17 February). …

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 …

The Arctic heatwave of 2020

18 September, 2020 by Michael Meredith

As the Arctic sea ice minimum approaches this month, we share a blog from Professor Mike Meredith at British Antarctic Survey about how the region is rapidly changing in our …

A framework for estimating the anthropogenic part of Antarctica’s sea level contribution in a synthetic setting

11 March, 2024 by Alexander Bradley, Rosie Williams, David Bett, Paul Holland, Robert Arthern

The relative contributions of anthropogenic climate change and internal variability in sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are yet to be determined. Even the way to address…

Read more on A framework for estimating the anthropogenic part of Antarctica’s sea level contribution in a synthetic setting

Environmental and behavioural drivers of Antarctic krill distribution at the South Orkney Islands: A regional perspective

1 January, 2024 by Eugene Murphy, Emma Young, Sally Thorpe

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a key species in the marine ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, but is also the target of a commercial fishery, with an important fishing ground…

Read more on Environmental and behavioural drivers of Antarctic krill distribution at the South Orkney Islands: A regional perspective

Challenger Society for Marine Science: Increasing Opportunity Through an Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility Working Group

5 December, 2023 by Kate Hendry

The Challenger Society for Marine Science (CSMS) is the learned society for marine scientists based in the United Kingdom, with a membership of over 470 people from >100 institutions, across…

Read more on Challenger Society for Marine Science: Increasing Opportunity Through an Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility Working Group