S.T. Lee Lecture 2022

Antarctic Ice: Ancient, Beautiful and Unforgiving

Robin Bell

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Professor Robin Bell

The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, USA

Synopsis of lecture

Most of the Antarctic ice sheet is older than human civilization. This continental blanket, over 4 km thick, has persisted for 34 million years. Professor Robin Bell has spent much of her career uncovering the secrets within and beneath Antarctica’s featureless surface, including hidden mountains, volcanoes, and giant lakes. Inside the ice are folds, bends and bulbous structures that record its history including its winds, travels and the subglacial water flows. Along the edges of the continent, the ice is moving faster, getting lower and losing mass resulting in sea-level rise that will be unforgiving for coastal communities.

Robin Bell

Robin Bell is a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and past-president of the American Geophysical Union. Bell’s research accomplishments emerge from her approach of looking holistically at Earth’s large ice sheets on our planet with the goal of understanding how they work and how they will change in the future.  She is motivated by the goal of enabling coastal communities around the globe to develop scientifically informed strategies to respond to changing sea levels.

Robin looks at Earth’s large ice sheets on our planet with the goal of understanding how they work and will change in the future. She discovered an active volcano beneath the vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet, studied Lake Vostok, a lake the size of New Jersey beneath two miles of ice and lead an international expedition to the Gamburtsev Mountains. Robin connects her study of the changing ice with coastal impacts. Robin has a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, beginning with leading the Earth Institute ADVANCE program, which resulted in a significant change in the scientific culture and demographics at Lamont. She is motivated by the vision of the future that is thriving and sustainable for all empowered by scientific discovery innovation and action.

View the lecture here.