Steve Rintoul

Dr Steve Rintoul, who was awarded the 2012 Muse Prize for his work on Southern Ocean circulation, will give the 2015 S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies at the Victoria University of Wellington on Tuesday 15 September.

The S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies was established by Singaporean philanthropist Lee Seng Tee. This high-profile lecture series, held annually, is designed to recognise and bolster the University's strong contribution to Antarctic research. Previous lecturers include Muse Prize Fellows Prof Steven Chown and Prof Martin Siegert.

Dr Rintoul's lecture is entitled “The Fate of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: Lessons from the geological past and how they are informing future predictions”. More information on the lecture is available from the S.T. Lee Lecture website.

Muse 2015 Valerie receives awardThe Martha T. Muse Prize Award Ceremony 2015 was held at Palazzo Franchetti, part of the Istituto Veneto in Venice, on Thursday, September 3rd. Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte received the Martha T. Muse Prize from Renate Rennie, Chairman and President of the Tinker Foundation, and the Chair of the Selection Committee, Prof. Peter Barrett.

Muse 2015 Valerie presentationThe event took place during the PAGES Antarctica2K meeting being held at Palazzo Franchetti, which included many of Dr Masson-Delmotte's close colleagues.


Muse 2015 Valerie with colleaguesA recording of the live webcast of the ceremony and the acceptance speech are available on YouTube.


Top right: Valérie Masson-Delmotte receives the Muse Prize from Renate Rennie, Chair of the Tinker Foundation, with Peter Barrett, chair of the Selection Committee.  Left: Valérie making her acceptance speech with a presentation outlining her plans for the future.  Above right: Valérie chatting with colleagues at the prize ceremony reception.

Valerie Masson Delmotte squareThe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has appointed the 2015 Martha T. Muse Prize winner, Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte, as co-Chair of Working Group I, which assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change, for Assessment Report 6 (AR6). This prestigious appointment follows Dr Masson-Delmotte's previous service for IPCC as Lead Author of IPCC AR4 (paleoclimate chapter) and Coordinating Lead Author of IPCC AR5 (paleoclimate chapter).

For more details, see the IPCC website.

Dr Ian Allison, long-time member and previous chair of the Tinker-Muse Prize selection committee, has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Ian AllisonThe Australian Academy of Science is a Fellowship of Australia’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for outstanding research that has pushed back the frontiers of knowledge. Only 20 Fellows are elected to the Academy each year.

During his long career with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Ian has worked across a range of disciplines including glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, and ice-shelf–ocean interaction. A major focus of his research has been the role of Antarctica in the global climate system and its response to climate change.

For more information, see the news item on the AAD website.

Read Dr Ian Allison's citation here.

Rob DeContoThe 2016 Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica has been awarded to Professor Robert DeConto, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. This recognition comes for his outstanding work on past and future Antarctic climate and for research integrating geological data with modelling to reveal likely consequences for future sea level rise from ice sheet melt.

Rob DeConto’s background spans geology, oceanography, atmospheric science and glaciology. He studied at the University of Colorado in the late 1980s and early 1990s before undertaking one of the first PhD studies on Earth System modelling to help understand warm climates in the geologic past. This was followed by post doctoral positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), before joining the faculty of the University of Massachusetts.

In the last fifteen years, Rob’s work has focused on the climate of Antarctica, the dynamics of ice sheets, and the sensitivity of the Antarctic Ice Sheets (and sea level) to conditions warmer than today. The need for model/field data integration was born in part from an international workshop he organized in 2002 that laid the groundwork for what would eventually become the SCAR Antarctic Climate Evolution (ACE) and SCAR Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Evolution (PAIS) scientific research programmes. His leadership has been instrumental in bringing ice sheet modelling and data acquisition communities together, enabling a data-constrained modelling approach to understanding the past and future behaviour of Antarctica’s ice sheets. This initially led to the now classic 2003 Nature paper with modeller David Pollard, Pennsylvania State University, which presented a new coupled ice sheet-climate model showing how atmospheric CO2 levels declining below ~3 times pre-industrial levels could initiate ice sheet growth on Antarctica.

Rob’s pioneering data-model integration strategy was also key to the success of the ANDRILL programme, central to SCAR ACE and PAIS, and eventually adapted by the International Ocean Drilling Program’s (IODP) science plan with an emphasis on the role of the South Polar region in climate evolution and sea level history.

Over the last decade, Rob has worked with colleagues to build on this basic methodology in a series of influential papers, incorporating new and significant ice loss processes that provide improved comparisons between model results and geological data. In their most recent article (DeConto and Pollard, Nature, March 2016), the models predict a doubling in the amount of sea level rise by the end of the century and beyond, compared with the 2013 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This increased sea-level rise comes from melting ice sheets if atmospheric CO2 emissions continue to rise as at present. They also show that aggressive reductions in CO2 emissions in order to stabilize global warming at no more than 2 degrees C, agreed in the Paris Climate Change Accord, substantially limits Antarctic ice sheet melting and future sea-level rise.

Rob DeConto says, “I am thrilled to receive this award. Our work indicates we do still have choices in addressing climate change and sea-level rise. The award will stimulate my work with colleagues to improve the robustness of this new generation of models, hopefully leading to greater confidence in confronting the issue.”

Julie Brigham-Grette, Head of the Department of Geosciences. University of Massachusetts Amherst, and chair of the U.S. National Academy Polar Research Board, says, “DeConto has forged an international reputation through his work with colleagues toward understanding the processes and dynamic interactions of past ice sheets and climate. The latest article reflects his evolving research focus toward Antarctica’s future and global-to-local sea-level impacts, by informing international climate mitigation policy.”

The award will be officially presented to him at the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) 2016 Open Science Conference in Kuala Lumpur on August 23.