Piecing together a polar puzzle

The extent of sea ice in Antarctica is confusing climate scientists.

Broken ice sheets out at sea
Credit: Alison Kohout

Why is ice decreasing in Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea, yet increasing in its neighbour the Ross Sea? And why is sea ice increasing overall, despite a warming earth?

Dr James Renwick, a professor in Physical Geography, has been awarded $800,000 of Marsden funding to defrost the mystery behind these opposing trends.

In collaboration with Dr Sam Dean from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and drawing on advice from New Zealand and international experts, James will forecast the future size of sea ice by using computer-based analysis and modelling, and examining how waves, winds, heat and seasonal fluctuations affect sea ice levels.