IPCC to prepare a special report on Climate change and the oceans and the cryosphere

The IPCC is to prepare a special report on Climate change and the oceans and the cryosphere. This will be one of just three special reports to be prepared as part of the 6th round of IPCC assessment reports.

Special reports are intended to be prepared as early as possible in the IPCC cycle, ahead of the main assessment and synthesis reports. They provide greater depth of information on their topics than would otherwise be given in the assessment reports.

The Special Report process begins with the selection of a scoping committee which will outline what is to be included in the report. Then authors and reviewers are selected to compile the report.

The report will review all related literature and so will become the definitive review on the topic.

The report will be prepared over the next few years so for any new research to be included in the review it will need to be published as soon as possible.

Dan Zwartz is managing the New Zealand contributions to the Special Reports.

Dan is a Climate Change Analyst with the Ministry for the Environment and is the New Zealand IPCC “Focal Point”.

IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and the oceans and the cryosphere


2016 Annual SIRG Meeting dates released

David Prior from the University of Otago has anounced that the 2016 annual New Zealand Snow and Ice Research Group meeting will be held in Arrowtown on June the 28th-30th.

David will be putting a flyer together shortly, but please mark it in your calendar and start preparing a presentation of your world leading research!

NZ biennial sea ice symposium: call for registrations

The symposium will take place at the University of Canterbury, Biology building, 2-3 February 2016 (Tuesday and Wednesday). Please see below the preliminary programme. Attendees will be able to catch a Tuesday morning flight to be in time for the morning tea and the key note presentation. Based on a similar number of registered participants as in previous years the symposium will be registration free (coffee/tea/biscuits for morning/afternoon tea and lunch will be provided). The symposium includes a National Science Challenge workshop in the afternoon of day 2. Also students have an opportunity to showcase their work and we will look to have a session devoted to this.

Attendees need to organize their own accommodation, see suggested options at the very end of this e-mail. February is a busy month for motel bookings in Christchurch, so it will be necessary to book accommodation as early as possible.

Please send me your registration for the symposium by e-mail wolfgang.rack@canterbury.ac.nz  together with the title of your presentation, by 22nd December 2015.

A time table will be sent with a final call for presentations by 18th January 2016.

Please forward to anyone you can think of is interested in the symposium, and any questions to me ( wolfgang.rack@canterbury.ac.nz ) .

All the best and looking forward to meet you early February,

Wolfgang and Alison

Symposium Time Table

Tuesday, 2nd February

10 am: morning tea/coffee, followed by a key note (speaker tbc)
11-12 am: morning presentations
12-1 pm: lunch break
1-2.45 pm: afternoon presentations 1
coffee/tea break
3.15-5 pm: afternoon presentations 2

6 pm: symposium dinner at the Foundry, University of Canterbury (at own expense of attendees, tbc)

Wednesday, 3rd February

8.30 am – 10 am: morning presentations 1 Coffee/tea break
10.30 am – 12 noon: morning presentations 2
12 – 1 pm: lunch break
Afternoon: Deep South National Science Challenge (NSC) workshop
1 – 2.30 pm: kick-off and sea ice roadmap for the NSC and related presentations
2.30 – 3 pm: Coffee/tea break; closing of the symposium
3 – 5 pm: organizational round table discussion of principal, co-, and associate investigators (Gateway Antarctica meeting room, venue tbc)

 Suggested accommodation options

Ph.D. Scholarship in Ice sheet modelling at Victoria

The Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, is offering a FULLY FUNDED scholarship for an enthusiastic and talented Ph.D student to undertake numerical ice-sheet modelling research. Experiments will focus on better understanding and simulating the processes involved in ice-sheet – ocean interactions. Such processes determine the basal mass balance of marine-based ice-sheets such as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and as such, control the pattern and timing of grounding-line migrations.

 Collaborating with scientists at a variety of New Zealand (VUW, GNS, NIWA) and Australian (UNSW, UTAS, AAD) institutions, the researcher will use present-day glaciological and oceanographic observations as primary constraints to a suite of model simulations that will explore the sensitivity of Antarctic ice-sheets to changes in ocean circulation. A key aspect of the project lies in trying to identify and quantify thresholds and feedback mechanisms that may either accelerate or inhibit ice-shelf melt. The ultimate aim of the project is to build on recent work to provide more robust simulations of ice-shelf and ice-sheet changes under future scenarios of perturbed atmospheric and oceanographic conditions.

 The research project will span a range of temporal and spatial scales, but will primarily use the Parallel Ice Sheet Model and will focus initially on the Ross Ice Shelf. The successful applicant may also have the opportunity to spend time in Antarctica acquiring new data.

Applicants must have a strong background in geophysics, maths or other numerical Earth Sciences. Experience working in a UNIX / Linux environment, including shell scripting, is essential. Programming abilities in any of the usual languages and experience with high-performance computing facilities would also be extremely useful.


We wish to have the successful applicant starting no later than July 2016, and therefore request completed applications by 18th December 2015.

 For details of the application process or to lodge an expression of interest, contact Dr. Nick Golledge (nick.golledge@vuw.ac.nz) as soon as possible.

NZ Sea Ice Symposium 2-3 February 2016 at the University of Canterbury

The NZ biennial sea ice symposium will take place at the University of Canterbury, Biology building, 2-3 February 2016 (Tuesday and Wednesday).

The intention is that participants can attend the symposium by covering transportation to and from Christchurch and accommodation, and that catering will be provided at the venue.

The plan is to have a mix of presentations and discussion sessions over the two days. Part of the symposium will be devoted to discuss the kick-off of the Deep South National Science Challenge.

A call for abstracts will follow very soon and we will also ask for people to formally register their interest in attending at this time. A session will be devoted to showcase student work.

Any feedback regarding the format of the symposium will be greatly appreciated.

It is recommended to book accommodation as early as possible.

Suggested accommodation options:

There are also a number of other motels on Riccarton Road, close to the University.

Please forward to anyone you can think of is interested in the symposium.

All the best from Scott Base,

Wolfgang Rack

Senior Lecturer – Remote Sensing/Glaciology
Gateway Antarctica, Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research
University of Canterbury – Te Whare Wananga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch, New Zealand
ph: +64 3 364 3166, mobile: 021 2511270

2 degrees to go before the Ross Ice Shelf starts to collapse

Warm up the atmosphere by a further 2 degrees, the oceans by 0.5 degrees and the major Antarctic ice shelves will collapse. These are the findings of Nick Golledge from Victoria University of Wellington and colleagues. They ran a three dimensional model of the antarctic ice sheets and found that the only IPCC greenhouse gas scenario that did not lead to ice shelf collapse was if green-house gas emissions peaked this decade. All others led to ice shelf collapse. The scenario where green house gases continue to increase at the current rate leads to the ice-shelves collapsing by the end of this century. The ice shelves currently act as a buttress, holding back glacier flow from within the continent. Without the ice shelves these glaciers will speed up and so will their contribution to sea level rise. This effect will continue for thousands of years. This work was published in Nature

Glacier speed related to liquid water input variability rather than quantity

Laura Kehrl, working with the glaciological team at Victoria University have reported on their precise measurements of the surface velocity of the Franz Josef glacier. They put a whole lot of GPS sensors on the glacier and left them to log their position during March of 2011 and then again over late summer in 2013. They found the glacier sped up and slowed down every day and sped up following rain. The movement propagated from up glacier down to the terminus. When comparing the movement to their best estimates of rainfall and melt water they concluded the glacier speed was related to the change in liquid water, not just the quantity of water. They attribute this to the sub-glacial conduits closing during low flows leading to high pressure when the next high flows occurred. This high water pressure reduced friction between the glacier and the rock beneath it letting the glacier speed up. The research is published the Journal of Glaciology.

Tasman Glacier flows twice as fast as the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal

Umesh Haritashya, Assistan Professor at the University of Dayton in Dayton Ohio has, with colleagues Mark Pleasants (also from Dayton University) and Luke Copland (from the University of Ottawa), remapped the velocity of the Tasman Glacier in New Zealand, and the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal and compared the results. They found that in the debris covered regions of the glaciers the Tasman had annual average velocity up to 140 m/year whereas the Kumbu Glacier measured up to an average of 70 m/year. The team used repeat-images from the ASTER satellite. The research has been published in Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography