Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Experts see sea ice as climate-change indicator

28 November 2005

Ice Conference Heats Up

World experts see sea ice as climate-change indicator

Sea ice responds very quickly to climate change, shrinking or expanding accordingly, so it is a critical climate-monitoring tool.

The trouble is, no one has yet figured out a way to accurately measure the thickness of sea ice remotely by satellite. Just how to do this is one of the big questions confronting the International Glaciological Society’s symposium on sea ice, taking place at the University of Otago from 5 – 9 December.

One hundred and thirty delegates from countries such as Finland, Russia, Japan and the United States will converge on Dunedin to discuss a range of issues about sea ice.

Organiser Dr Pat Langhorne of the University’s Physics Department says the symposium has attracted specialists in a wide range of fields, from researchers working on the crystalline structure of sea ice, to those focusing on the global picture.

“It’s a very good opportunity to see things from the other end of the spectrum,” she says. “If you’re working on minutiae, it’s important to talk with people exploring the larger regional picture. It expands your vision!”

The other big issue being considered is the so-called ‘albedo feedback effect’ -- an acceleration of ice melt. Usually, because the ice is white, it reflects most of the sunlight. Ice therefore doesn’t heat up, and so melts slowly.

“However, with the sea ice’s response to climate change, there is already an increase in sea ice melting, which makes the sea ice darker, which in turn means the ice absorbs more light, so that it warms more, and melts more,” Dr Langhorne explained. “This melting of the sea ice is of particular concern in the Arctic where it is already happening, but it has the potential to be a problem in Antarctica also.”

Notable conference delegates include Dr Stephen Ackley from Clarkson University in New York State and Dr Ian Allison who is a programme leader from the Australian Government’s Antarctic Division.

Dr Ackley, who has researched aspects of sea ice for nearly 30 years, is currently focusing on the dynamics of sea ice ecology. Dr Allison is the co-chair of the International Polar Year Committee which is sponsored by the International Council of Science and the World Meteorological Organisation.

The committee is planning a range of research activities to commemorate next year’s 50th anniversary of the involvement of 80,000 scientists from 67 countries in the International Geophysical Year 1957/58. This event is remembered in New Zealand because of Sir Edmund Hillary’s first crossing of the Antarctic continent.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>

Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland