Kyle Clem

Kyle completed a PhD in Physical Geography where he researched the climate and weather in Antarctica.

Kyle Clem stands in front of a map showing weather and pressure zones.

Investigating Antarctica

Not only is Antarctica the most extreme weather place on Earth, being the coldest, driest and windiest, but also its drivers of weather and climate in this region are some of the most poorly understood on the planet, says Kyle.

“Antarctica is such a vast continent and it consists of grounded ice sheets that control weather patterns throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Locked in its ice sheets are tens of metres of potential global sea level rise and many of its glaciers are rapidly retreating due to changes in ocean and atmospheric temperatures.”

But, despite this, Kyle emphasises that relatively little is known about drivers of climate variability in Antarctica because of a lack of long-term observations and because climate models do a poor job representing and predicting Antarctica's climate. “There is so much still to learn about this highly significant and rapidly changing part of our planet and that’s why I chose this path, first as a PhD student and now as a postdoctoral researcher.

“My PhD looked at how thunderstorm activity in the tropics causes weather patterns around Antarctica to intensify and shift location. Part of my research identified that an increase in thunderstorm activity north of New Zealand was causing warming of West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula during the spring season.”

Postdoctoral opportunities

In September 2017, Kyle began a postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers University in New Jersey where he is learning how to compile and run climate models to further understand the physical linkage between tropical thunderstorm activity and Antarctic climate.