International Relations

Icy Secrets of Antarctica

Uncovering the Icy Secrets of Antarctica

Dr Neil Ross, a lecturer in physical geography at Newcastle University, is among a team of UK experts investigating the crucial issue of anticipating the response of the Antarctic ice sheet to future climate change.

The melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet alone could lead to a worldwide rise in sea levels of three metres.

The team of experts are working to build up an accurate picture of the ice sheet and the landscape beneath to predict how it might behave in a warmer world.

Dr Ross and his team carried out a major airborne geophysical survey of a previously little studied part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. The study revealed a huge ancient valley – deeper than the Grand Canyon – hidden beneath the ice.

The findings of the survey, published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin, provided an unprecedented insight into the extent, thickness and behaviour of an ancient icefield. It provides important clues as to the most probable extent of ice in West Antarctica in a future, warmer world.

Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said: "Dr Neil Ross has made several key advances in knowledge of the Antarctic ice sheet, including the idea that a whole sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet is far more prone to change than previously thought.”

Further information

Learn more about the project at the British Antarctic Survey.