Florence Isaacs

Florence Isaacs


Phone: 04 463 5233 x 8619
Email: Florence.Isaacs@vuw.ac.nz
Office: CO523


BSc (Hons) University of Otago (2015)
PhD Candidate in Antarctic climatology

PhD thesis


Large-scale climate drivers of recent sea ice and outlet glacier variability in East Antarctica.


Project objectives and description

Recent studies suggest that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) is more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought, with its coastal margins identified as its weak underbelly. The complex ice-ocean-atmosphere relationships dominating these coastal environments exert a substantial influence on the behaviour of the wider ice sheet, but are currently not well understood. I hope to improve this understanding with my PhD research, with the broad aim to investigate the influence of Southern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation on recent variability in the outlet glaciers and sea ice of East Antarctica, using existing observational and modelled datasets. The specific objectives of my research are:

1) to identify and characterise recent co-varying trends in sea ice distribution and outlet glacier surface mass balance around East Antarctica, and explore how this relationship varies spatially and temporally over the satellite era (1979 - present)

2) to investigate the influence of largescale climate modes such as zonal wave three (ZW3), the Southern Annular Mode (SAM), and El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on these trends at multiple scales, considering also regional/spatial variability in these relationships, and

3) to investigate whether any component of the trends/patterns in sea ice and outlet glaciers in East Antarctica can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change (either directly, or via changes in climate mode variability).


Isaacs, F., Mager, S.M., Kingston, D.G., & Cullen, N.J. (in review). Method-based uncertainty in estimating evapotranspiration over tussock grassland. Submitted to Journal of Hydrology (New Zealand).

Isaacs, F., Kingston, D., & Mager, S. (2016). Estimating evapotranspiration over snow tussock in Central Otago. Paper presented at the New Zealand Geographical Society Annual Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Isaacs, F., Kingston, D., & Mager, S. (2015). Estimating potential evapotranspiration over snow tussock grassland in Central Otago. Paper presented at the New Zealand Hydrological Society Annual Conference, Hamilton, New Zealand.