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


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



Dominic Hodgson

Interim Director of Science


Kelly Hogan

Marine Geophysicist


Joanne Johnson



Robert Larter

Dep Science Leader of Palaeo Environments IMP 3


Victoria Peck



Bianca Perren



Stephen Roberts

Quaternary Geologist


James Smith



Rowan Whittle



Lara Perez Miguel

Honorary Researcher

The role of Antarctic sea-ice in global climate

Sea-ice is frequently cited as a likely driver and propagator of abrupt climate change because of the rapid and far-reaching impact of its feedbacks. However, numerical climate models are still …

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 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 …


This project will reconstruct millennial-scale ice sheet change in the western Amundsen Sea Embayment, Antarctica, using high-precision exposure dating.

New field season on Thwaites Glacier underway

7 December, 2023

Thirty seven scientists and over 24 support staff are arriving in Antarctica to work on Thwaites Glacier. They are part of the ambitious international effort to understand the glacier and …

Increasing ship traffic in Inuit Nunangat

17 August, 2023

Researchers from British Antarctic Survey are heading to the Canadian Arctic this week to learn more about the impacts of increasing ship traffic in Inuit Nunangat. In recent years, climate …

Fieldwork starts on Thwaites Glacier

13 December, 2022

Nearly 60 scientists and support staff are on their way to Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. It’s part of an ambitious international effort to understand the glacier and surrounding ocean …

Seafloor images explain Thwaites Glacier retreat

5 September, 2022

New high resolution images of the the seafloor in West Antarctica show past retreat of Thwaites Glacier. They reveal that at times in its past, retreat of the massive Thwaites …

Drilling of oldest ice on Earth completed

18 February, 2022

The first ice core drilling campaign of Beyond Epica-Oldest Ice has been successfully completed at the remote Little Dome C site in Antarctica – one of the most extreme places …

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 …

Deep channels link ocean to Antarctic glacier

9 September, 2020

Newly discovered deep seabed channels beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica may be the pathway for warm ocean water to melt the underside of the ice.  Data from two research …

Traces of rainforests found in West Antarctica

1 April, 2020

An international team of researchers has provided a new and unprecedented perspective on the climate history of Antarctica. From a sediment core collected from the seafloor in West Antarctica, they …

Ice sheets growing from the base

7 November, 2018

Fresh water freezing onto the bottom of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets leads to the formation of spectacular plume-shaped features, according to new research published today (7th November) in …

Giant West Antarctic iceberg disintegrates

29 November, 2017

An animation of the giant iceberg that calved off the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica just over two months ago shows an unexpected break up. Satellite images revealed a …

Large iceberg breaks off Pine Island Glacier

27 September, 2017

Latest satellite images reveal a new 100-square-mile iceberg emerging from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. The calving event did not come as a complete surprise, but is a troubling sign with …

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 #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 …

The infill of tunnel valleys in the central North Sea: Implications for sedimentary processes, geohazards, and ice-sheet dynamics

1 January, 2024 by James Kirkham, Kelly Hogan, Robert Larter

Tunnel valleys are widespread in formerly glaciated regions such as the North Sea and record sediment transport beneath ice sheets undergoing deglaciation. However, their complex infill architecture often makes their…

Read more on The infill of tunnel valleys in the central North Sea: Implications for sedimentary processes, geohazards, and ice-sheet dynamics

Offshore-onshore record of Last Glacial Maximum−to−present grounding line retreat at Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

1 November, 2023 by Jonathan Adams, Joanne Johnson

Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, is the largest Antarctic contributor to global sea-level rise and is vulnerable to rapid retreat, yet our knowledge of its deglacial history since the Last…

Read more on Offshore-onshore record of Last Glacial Maximum−to−present grounding line retreat at Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

A long-term mass-balance reconstruction (1974–2021) and a decadal in situ mass-balance record (2011–2021) of Rikha Samba Glacier, central Himalaya

18 August, 2023 by James Kirkham

Despite their importance for regional water resource planning and as indicators of climate change, records of in situ glacier mass balance remain short and spatially sparse in the Himalaya. Here,…

Read more on A long-term mass-balance reconstruction (1974–2021) and a decadal in situ mass-balance record (2011–2021) of Rikha Samba Glacier, central Himalaya