Melting Ice in the NZESM

Balleny Islands from a research vessel, photo by David Allen

Freshwater from icebergs and ice shelf melt in the NZESM

While the reduction of Arctic sea ice is alarming researchers worldwide, Antarctic sea ice extent has actually been increasing over the past 30 years.

  • Project budget: $300,000
  • Project duration: July 2017 – June 2019

Changes in Antarctic sea ice can have a huge effect on weather patterns over New Zealand, causing varying wind patterns that lead to cyclones, increased rainfall and abnormal temperatures. In addition, the amount of Antarctic sea ice affects the global climate, by influencing the heat uptake of the Southern Ocean – one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.

Current climate models have been unable to replicate the increase in Antarctic sea ice. Through model development and improvements, this project will investigate if the recent increase in Antarctic sea ice is being influenced by freshwater from melting icebergs or from the bases of Antarctic ice shelves.
Our research will inform the development of the NZ Earth System Model.

Principal investigator and project contact:

  • Inga Smith, University of Otago,

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