The following seminar has been organized within the PhD. program in Science and Management of Climate Change, in cooperation with Fondazione CMCC and Ca’ Foscari University.
Professor Imperial College London, Faculty of Natural Sciences
Co-Director, Grantham Institute for Climate Change & Environment
For more than 2000 years we have been fascinated by the discovery and exploration of Antarctica. The idea of Terra Australis Incognita (the Unknown Southern Land) began with the ancient Greeks, who argued a southern landmass was required to balance the northern world. This quest for knowledge led to the second voyage of Captain Cook in the late eighteenth Century, heroic expeditions by Robert Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Douglas Mawson, and the post-WW2 scientific collaboration of the International Geophysical Year in 1957-8. While much is now known about Antarctica, it still remains unquestionably the most unexplored region on Earth. In this lecture, I will talk about how our appreciation of Antarctica has changed as a consequence of the technological advances required for its scientific exploration. I will describe the role that Gordon Robin played in measuring Antarctica, and how the techniques he pioneered led to an understanding of ice-sheet flow and evolution. I will show how the perception of Antarctica as a static, lifeless continent has transformed to that of a dynamic region that has the power to alter our global environment. Finally, I will question what changes in the Antarctic could mean for us, and why it should concern everyone.