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Prof Tim Naish of the Antarctic Research Centre explains how Antarctica's history is relevant in predicting future sea levels [Video]

Photo: Prof Tim Naish, Victoria University

Five of the world's leading scientists on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean present recent findings on the changing Antarctic Ice Sheets and the impact on global sea levels. A presentation from World Science Week, during the 6th Open Science Conference of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research. 'Melting Ice, Rising Seas' was generously hosted by AUT University, New Zealand.

In part three of Melting Ice, Rising Seas, Professor Tim Naish, Director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, explains how the geological record in Antarctica is relevant today in predicting future sea-levels. 

In particular, he looks at the last time the Earth experienced 400 parts per million atmospheric CO2 composition - the same level the planet has reached today from a pre-Industrial Revolution level of 300ppm. The evidence from the Ross Sea area suggests that at the time, 3 million years ago, the ocean around Antarctica was 5-6 degrees warmer, supporting algae, and global sea levels were up to 20m higher. These conditions would not have supported an ice sheet in West Antarctica. In fact, with much of the West Antarctic bedrock located below current sea levels, the area that is now occupied by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet would have been largely submerged under the Southern Ocean. 

Tim Naish poses the question as to how much change we are now already committed to following a sustained period relying on fossil fuels for our energy needs. 

Video: World Science Week, Prof. Tim Naish, Victoria University of Wellington


World Science Week New Zealand brought together more than 2,000 of the world’s leading scientists, researchers and government science advisors for a series of international science summits in Auckland during August and September 2014. These included the 31st triennial General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and  the 6th biennial Open Science Conference of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). 

Many of the scientists took part in a series of public lectures supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Royal Society of New Zealand, and hosted at the University of Auckland and AUT University.  

'Melting Ice, Rising Sea' was a presentation by five of the world's leading experts on the current state of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and surrounding Southern Ocean, how climate change is impacting upon them, and the consequences for Planet Earth as the 21st century progresses. (The video recording of the seminar is presented here in four separate parts) 


  • Bryan Storey, Vice President of SCAR, Director, Gateway Antarctica, the Centre for Antarctic Studies at University of Canterbury, NZ (Convenor)
  • Jonathan Bamber, Professor of Physical Geography, University of Bristol, UK
  • Tim Naish, Director of Victoria University of Wellington’s Antarctic Research Centre, NZ
  • Rob DeConto, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
  • Steve Rintoul, Research Team Leader, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia

Professor Tim Naish, Director, Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington

Professor Tim Naish is the first New Zealand recipient of the Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica. He is a paleoclimatologist focused on reconstructing past ice sheet and global sea-level changes relevant to future projections. He has participated in nine expeditions to Antarctica and helped found ANDRILL, an international Antarctic Geological Drilling Programme. He was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s 5th Assessment Report. Tim and his team at the Antarctic Research Centre have developed a strong track record of communication of climate change and Antarctic issues and their impact on New Zealand through education and outreach to the public, practitioners and policy makers. He received the New Zealand Antarctic Medal and the New Zealand Science and Technology Medal for fundamental contributions to Antarctic climate change research.

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