S.T. Lee Lecture 2017

A profile image of Professor Matt King.

Continental loss: The quest to determine Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level rise

Professor Matt King, 16 October 2017

Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor of Polar Geodesy, School of Food and Land, University of Tasmania, Australia

Synopsis of lecture

For over 50 years scientists have been working to understand Antarctica’s contribution to sea level. For much of this time there has been disagreement about if this massive ice sheet is even growing or shrinking. Recently, advances in data analysis and computer modeling resulted in the first reconciled estimate of change being achieved. This showed that Antarctica is increasingly contributing to sea-level rise. During this lecture Matt will explain some of the major advances that led to this reconciled estimate and highlight some of the fascinating things we can learn about Earth from the vantage-point of Antarctica; these take us from hundreds of miles above Earth’s surface to hundreds of miles below, and from present-day ice sheet changes to those that happened 20,000 years ago.

Matt King

Professor Matt King completed a Bachelor of Surveying at the University of Tasmania before undertaking a PhD using surveying data to quantify changes in the motion of a large floating Antarctic ice shelf. Upon completion of his PhD in 2001 he moved to the UK where he researched high-precision GPS positioning, offshore platform subsidence, glacier dynamics and Earth deformation. In 2012, Matt returned to the University of Tasmania as Professor of Polar Geodesy where he works on observing and modelling the Antarctic Ice Sheet, sea-level change and the changing shape of Earth. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, with more than 10% in the leading multidisciplinary journals such as Science, Nature and Nature Climate Change. Several of his papers were used to establish the physical basis of climate change within the 5th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He has held several prestigious research fellowships, most recently an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. His work has received international recognition on several occasions, perhaps most prominently when the Royal Society (London) awarded him the 2015 Kavli Medal and Lecture for his work that contributed to the first reconciled estimate of Antarctica and Greenland’s contribution to sea-level change.