ROOSEVELT ISLAND CLIMATE EVOLUTION PROJECT

Project Description
RICE (Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution) Project is an international collaboration between New Zealand, USA, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Italy and China. The aim of the project is to recover a 750 m deep ice core from Roosevelt Island in Antarctica to determine the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf and West Antarctica in a warming world.

The potential for rapid deglaciation of West Antarctica remains a primary uncertainty in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions for 21st Century sea level rise. The recent and unpredicted collapse of multiple ice shelves and rapid acceleration of discharge of Antarctic ice suggests that dynamical responses to warming play a more significant role than is currently understood and captured in coupled climate-ice sheet models. Such models can be improved and validated by replicating known past changes. The RICE Project is an international partnership seeking to understand past, present, and future changes of the Ross Ice Shelf, a major drainage pathway of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ANDRILL programme showed, that about 5 to 3 million years ago, the last time when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and temperatures were similar to those predicted for the end of the 21st Century, the Ross Ice Shelf disintegrated multiple times, initiating the collapse of West Antarctica. However, no high resolution data exist from this time period. To determine the rate of change, RICE aims to provide an annually resolved ice core record for the past 20,000 years and beyond, when global temperatures increased by 6 deg C to preindustrial temperatures, global sea level rose by ~120 m, and the Ross Ice Shelf grounding line retreated over 1,000 km. Most of the Ross Ice Shelf retreat occurred when global sea level had already reached modern levels. For this reason, the precise correlation between increasing air and ocean temperatures, and the velocity and characteristics of the ice shelf retreat, provides a unique opportunity to determine accurately the sensitivity of the Ross Ice Shelf to warming.

For more information, please visit: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/antarctic/research/research-prog/rice