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Living on the Pacific coast, should we be concerned that climate change is heavily impacting Antarctica and the Southern Ocean? A group of international scientists think so. They also think we need to look to our past to better understand what we might expect in the future. Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Environment is pleased to invite you to a talk and discussion to find out why.

Abstract

Climate change is heavily impacting Antarctica and the Southern Ocean surrounding this icy continent. Parts of the Antarctic ice sheet are melting away raising sea-level by a few millimeters each year. The Southern Ocean is also warming which is affecting the global ocean circulation and remote climate. This in turn is impacting the regional food web at southern high-latitudes. Surprisingly, Antarctic sea-ice cover has been slightly increasing over the past decades despite very large differences at the regional scale that we have yet to understand. 

Projections for Antarctica estimate accelerated warming of the atmosphere and ocean and an acceleration of the continental ice melting with a drastic reduction of the sea-ice cover. However, these projections are based on instrumental data from a time frame that is too short to be reliable, so we need to look deeper into the past to fully capture the range of natural variability. This will help us better understand the relationships between the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere to refine our projections. 

In this presentation Xavier Crosta discussed why Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are important for the global climate, explore the on-going changes and how they impact high- latitude wildlife and how we may learn from the past. 

Presenter 

Xavier Crosta, Senior Research Scientist Université de Bordeaux France

Moderator 

Amy Leventer, Professor of Geology Colgate University New York, USA

Bios

Xavier Crosta is senior scientist at CNRS-EPOC, Université de Bordeaux, France. He is expert in diatom taxonomy, biogeochemistry and isotope chemistry to document Southern Ocean palaeo-oceanography and palaeo-productivity over the Pleistocene with a focus on the Holocene and last 2000 years. He is one of the leading researchers in the field of Antarctic sea ice reconstruction, whereby he developed a unique transfer function to quantitatively estimate past sea ice duration, to understand the drivers of sea-ice dynamic and its feedback on global climate at millennial to decadal timescales.

Amy Leventer is a professor of Geology at Colgate University, and teaches courses in Oceanography, Marine Geology, Environmental Geology, Paleoclimatology, Climate Change and Human History, and Science and Exploration. Her research is in the field of understanding climate change since the last glacial maximum with a focus on the paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic history of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Her specialty is as a micropaleontologist, studying fossil diatoms, algae with a siliceous test that is especially well preserved in marine sediments around Antarctica. These data hold clues to the history of the presence or absence of sea ice and glacial ice, changes in oceanic paleo-productivity, and variations in oceanic circulation in the past. She has participated on over 25 research expeditions to Antarctica, most recently to the remote and rarely visited East Antarctic continental margin.