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.

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.

Project contact: Inga Smith, University of Otago
Project budget: $300,000
Project duration: July 2017 – June 2019

This project in the media:
New Zealand's Next Top Model, New Zealand Geographic
Breaking the ice, NIWA


Return to the Earth System Modelling and Prediction programme page
Check out the full list of Deep South Challenge projects

Latest news and updates

Creating a climate-safe Dunedin through community-driven climate action

2018 may well be the year New Zealand gets serious about adapting to our changing climate. Last year, and the start of this one, gave all of us plenty of opportunities to experience a future in which creeping sea level rise and extreme weather – from drought to flood to surprise storm surges – make day-to-day life more precarious and more expensive.

Stormwater, wastewater and climate change: Impacts on our economy, environment, culture and society

In October 2017, the Deep South Challenge released a report into the state of the nation’s storm and waste water infrastructure, in the face of a changing climate. The report garnered significant media attention – not surprising given the infrastructure is currently valued at well over $20 billion.

The Deep South Challenge awards funding to investigate climate-resilient, high-value crops for the whānau of Omaio

The whānau of Omaio in the Bay of Plenty have joined forces with NIWA researchers to explore the viability of climate-resilient, high-value crops for the rohe. The group has won a $250,000 research grant under the Vision Mātauranga programme of the Deep South National Science Challenge to better understand Omaio’s changing climate and how it might support the community to create a local economy based around a high-value product like kiwi fruit.