Environment Minister opens Antarctic Modelling Hub

The Antarctic Science Platform’s National Modelling Hub was officially opened by the Hon David Parker, Minister for the Environment, at Victoria University of Wellington last Tuesday.

Modelling Hub Opening
L-R: Professor Margaret Hyland (Vice-Provost Research, Te Herenga Waka), Associate Professor Sandy Morrison (Antarctic Science Platform Kāhui Māori Chair), Gillian Wratt (Antarctic Science Platform Steering Group Chair), Hon David Parker (Minister for the Environment), Associate Professor Nick Golledge (Antarctic Research Centre, Te Herenga Waka)

The first of its kind in New Zealand, the Modelling Hub supports scientists to better predict the impact of Antarctic ice melt on our oceans and atmosphere.

The Antarctic Science Platform National Modelling Hub was conceived in 2019 and established in early 2020. The Modelling Hub is a collaboration between Antarctic Research Centre (Victoria University of Wellington), Antarctic Science Platform (Antarctica NZ), GNS Science and NIWA and hosts four modelling fellows, with a focus on future projections. It brings together some of the brightest minds to provide updated future projections and collectively address urgent climate change questions ranging from sea-level rise to ecosystem impacts.

The Hub is managed by ARC's Associate Prof. Nick Golledge and GNS Science's Dr. Liz Keller, Co-Chairs of the Future Projections Expert Group. The Fellows share their time between their employing institution and the hub and will work with researchers across the country, and internationally.

Their work involves using computer simulations and equations to replicate different parts of the earth system, from the climate, the ocean and snow patterns. By creating computer models, scientists can predict what could happen in the future.

Antarctic Science Platform Director, Associate Professor Nancy Bertler says the Antarctic science community feels a strong sense of urgency to meet the challenges of climate change.

“Understanding how the Antarctic ice sheets, ocean and atmosphere interact, how ecosystems will respond and in turn impact global carbon dioxide budgets, and to forecast and quantify impacts for humanity requires international and interdisciplinary cooperation.

“The Modelling Hub is a new approach to bring together some of the brightest minds and leading experts in diverse fields to accelerate progress,” she says.

ARC's Associate Professor, Nick Golledge oversees the Modelling Hub and says it is a great, collaborative space.

“The Hub research fellows, along with modellers throughout the Platform, are addressing key questions around better predicting the future contribution of Antarctic meltwater to sea level rise, changes in ocean uptake of heat and CO2, changes in ocean currents, sea ice extent, nutrient fluxes, ecosystem dynamics and impacts,” he says.

The Modelling Hub has been up and running for ten months, but due to COVID-19 alert level changes the official opening was delayed until last week.

Having visited Scott Base a number of years ago and seen some of our Antarctic research first hand, the Minister shared stories from his Antarctic experiences, and highlighted the high-quality Antarctic research carried out by Kiwi scientists. You can read more about the National Modelling Hub here

Last week also the inaugural Antarctic Science Platform conference over 3 days hosted by Victoria University of Wellington.