Palaeo Environments, Ice Sheets and Climate Change team

Our ambition

is to improve understanding of the mechanisms of past change in ice sheets, oceans and global climate. Our aim is to reduce uncertainty in predictions of future climate and sea level change, informing Government strategy for mitigating against the risks of these changes. We specialise in providing detailed past and contemporary records of climate and environmental change from high latitude regions.

BAS scientists extracting a sediment core from a remote lake on Horseshoe Island, Antarctic Peninsula.  The climate record in this core will cover approx' 20,000 years.
BAS scientists extracting a sediment core from a remote lake on Horseshoe Island, Antarctic Peninsula. The climate record in this core will cover approximately 20,000 years.

Team priorities

Science

To develop our understanding of the past response of polar ice sheets and ice shelves to environmental changes. Our aim is to improve forecasts of global sea levels and ice mass loss by providing data against which ice sheet models can be tested.

To investigate the history of the Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds and their role in ice sheet dynamics and the global CO2 budget. We aim to detect when human impacts exceed the natural ranges of variability in the Earth system by studying climate signals in marine and terrestrial sediments.

To study changes in the production and export of Antarctic Bottom Water, the circulation of Southern Ocean deep- and bottom-water masses, and the role of sea ice, melt water and biological productivity in controlling past, and future, climate changes.

To improve understanding of the transition between greenhouse and icehouse climate states and the wider impact of global climate changes on the environment. We will study the physical environment, terrestrial and marine palaeobiology and community analysis from the geological past.

Technology, innovation and training

  • Lead development of the science case and infrastructure requirement for the new UK Polar Research Vessel
  • Utilise new and existing technologies to sample subglacial sediments to obtain records of past change; such as evidence for West Antarctic Ice Sheet loss and past ice shelf stability, and changes in subglacial hydrology and biology
  • Apply and test novel dating techniques, and temperature and sea-ice proxies
  • Train the next generation of polar scientists

Influencing and leading international programmes

Stakeholder engagement

  • Produce policy briefings and presentations for UK Government departments including the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Foreign Office Polar Regions Department (FCO)
  • Produce science updates and briefings on the impact and relevance of our research for our funders, including NERC
  • Serve as Contributing Authors to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change and the Law of the Sea

Public engagement in research

  • Work with the BAS Communications Team to explain our science and its relevance for environmental stewardship to a wide range of public audiences

Claire Allen

Palaeoceanographer

Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand

Marine Geologist

Dominic Hodgson

Science Team Leader - Palaeoenvironments, Ice Sheets & Climate Change

Kelly Hogan

Marine Geophysicist

Joanne Johnson

Geochemist - Geochronologist

Robert Larter

Marine Geophysicist

Victoria Peck

Palaeoceanographer

Bianca Perren

Quaternary Scientist

Stephen Roberts

Quaternary Scientist

James Smith

Marine Geologist

Rowan Whittle

Palaeobiologist

Thomas Williams

PHD Student

The role of Antarctic sea-ice in global climate

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Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Sea-Surface

  In order to assess the impact of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) on the oceans today we are investigating the effect of decreasing upper ocean pH on calcifying zooplankton. Pteropods, …




Arctic marine geophysics

This research focuses on investigating the glacial histories of Arctic ice sheets and ice caps using the marine geological record preserved on continental margins. By reconstructing past ice sheets, their …



IMCONet

IMCONet is an international Research Network that follows an interdisciplinary approach to understand the consequences of Climate Change in coastal Western Antarctica. A Network for Staff Exchange and Training, IMCONet …


Basal Conditions on Rutford Ice Stream

The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets play a major role in controlling Earth’s sea level and climate, but our understanding of their history and motion is poor. At the moment, …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #11

12 February, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

After our extended period of lie-up, I now have the slightly surreal pleasure of sitting at Rothera writing this, contemplating flying home tomorrow. We flew back from the field on …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #9

29 January, 2016 by Iain Rudkin

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ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #8

27 January, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

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ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #7

27 January, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

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ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #6

11 January, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

The challenges of glacier travel The ANiSEED project field area lies between two of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Antarctica, the Smith and Kohler Glaciers. These have thinned more …





ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #2

12 November, 2015 by Joanne Johnson

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New study shows when Pine Island Glacier retreat began

23 November, 2016

New study reveals when West Antarctica’s largest glacier started retreating Reporting this week (Wednesday 23 November) in the journal Nature an international team led by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) explains …



NEWS STORY: Lake drainage affected climate

17 February, 2016

The catastrophic release of fresh water from a vast South American lake at the end of the last Ice Age was significant enough to change circulation in the Pacific Ocean …


PRESS RELEASE: New season – ambitious science

23 November, 2015

New season tackles ambitious science and logistical challenges The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) 2015/16 field season is underway with dozens of scientists and support staff – together with planes and tonnes …




NEWS STORY: Predicting polar ice loss

28 August, 2015

Most comprehensive ice loss model A new international study is the first to use a high-resolution, large-scale computer model to estimate how much ice the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could …


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: IPCC climate report published today

27 September, 2013

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is published today. The report entitled Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, presents a synthesis of …


PRESS RELEASE: Antarctica’s climate timeline

22 August, 2012

New climate history adds to understanding of recent Antarctic Peninsula warming Results published this week by a team of polar scientists from Britain, Australia and France adds a new dimension …


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: Ozone hole anniversary

5 May, 2010

25th Anniversary of the Discovery of Ozone Hole This week British Antarctic Survey (BAS) commemorates the 25th anniversary of one of its most dramatic scientific discoveries — the ozone hole. …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #11

12 February, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

After our extended period of lie-up, I now have the slightly surreal pleasure of sitting at Rothera writing this, contemplating flying home tomorrow. We flew back from the field on …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #9

29 January, 2016 by Iain Rudkin

January the twenty sixth. My pre-deployment brief suggested that I should currently be partaking of all the luxuries Rothera Research Station has to offer. Enjoying that period of self-satisfaction which …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #8

27 January, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

Reflections from the ANiSEED team in Marie Byrd Land Field Guide Al Docherty recounts his most memorable day of the field season so far: “7am the alarm goes off. I look …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #7

27 January, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

Every person who works in Antarctica has a different experience and takes away different memories because our perception is shaped so much by our previous life experiences. The four of …


ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #6

11 January, 2016 by Joanne Johnson

The challenges of glacier travel The ANiSEED project field area lies between two of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Antarctica, the Smith and Kohler Glaciers. These have thinned more …





ANTARCTIC BLOG: Extreme Geology #2

12 November, 2015 by Joanne Johnson

A long drive ahead….update from polar guides preparing for a geology project in remote Marie Byrd Land Whilst Steve Roberts and I are preparing to depart the UK for Rothera …