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Continental loss: the quest to determine Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level change


Event video


18:30 - 19:30


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


2015 Kavli Medal and Lecture by Professor Matt A King

A Global Positioning System (GPS) deployed in remote West Antarctica for the purpose of measuring the motion of its bedrock. The bedrock is responding to past and present changes in the weight of ice upon it. Credit: Matt Burke

For over 50 years scientists have been working to understand Antarctica’s contribution to sea level. For much of this time there has even been disagreement about if this massive ice sheet is growing or shrinking. In 2012, advances in data analysis and computer modelling resulted in the first reconciled estimate of change being achieved. This showed that Antarctica is increasingly contributing to sea-level rise. During this lecture Professor King explained some of the major advances that led to this reconciled estimate, and highlighted some of the fascinating things we can learn about Earth from the vantage-point of Antarctica; these take us from hundreds of miles above Earth’s surface to hundreds of miles below, and from present-day ice sheet changes to those that happened 20,000 years ago.

Matt King is Professor of Polar Geodesy at the University of Tasmania, Australia. He was awarded the Kavli Medal and Lecture for his research in field glaciology leading to the first reconciled estimate of ice sheet contribution to sea level.

The Kavli Medal and Lecture is awarded biennially (in odd years) for excellence in all fields of science and engineering relevant to the environment or energy.

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Continental loss: the quest to determine Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level change The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK