Dr Rebecca Priestley

Dispatches from the seventh continent: Challenging scientists with new thinking in science communication and public engagement with science
Education, outreach and communication (EOC) are now established and expected facets of most Antarctic science projects. But today’s scientists and science communicators face challenges engaging with new communication technologies and new education and media platforms, facing a “post-truth” media landscape, and recognizing that they are communicating with diverse “publics” rather than a “general public”. This paper will further challenge scientists to recognize that as well as being jobs for practitioners, or part time responsibilities for scientists, science communication and public engagement with science are also academic disciplines, with their own research objectives and outcomes. Drawing on some recent research, Rebecca will challenge scientists to examine their motivations for engaging in EOC, and recognize the institutional, political and historical context for their communication activities, in an effort to help them to become more thoughtful and effective communicators. As well as offering scientists this set of challenges, Rebecca will share her own personal motivations and context (historical, institutional, political) for being involved in Antarctic EOC – as a science writer, an educator, and a researcher.

Dr Rebecca Priestley is a science communicator and science historian with a particular interest in Antarctic science. She has visited Antarctica twice – in 2011 to write a series of articles about Antarctic science and in 2014 to film lectures for a fully online course on Antarctic science and history. She is a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, where she co-leads the Science in Society group with Rhian Salmon. Rebecca is the 2016 winner of the Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize and the 2009 winner of the Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize. She recently led the development of Victoria University’s first edX MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which engaged more than 5000 students from 115 countries in a course about Antarctic geology and history. Her most recent book is Dispatches from Continent Seven: an anthology of Antarctic science.

Dr Fraser Morgan

The Antarctic science to policy interface: issues, myths, and opportunities for science
Science to Policy is a concept that is regularly discussed within New Zealand science. In relation to Antarctica, one main avenue for Science to Policy is through the annual meetings of the Antarctic Treaty System. Over the last five years I have attended the treaty meetings to observe, support, and facilitate the uptake of key environmental objectives for the New Zealand government. Even though the Antarctic Treaty meetings are a place where science is critical, I have found that scientists are rarely present. This talk will unpack some of the issues, myths, and opportunities that I have recognised while attending the treaty meetings; highlight how the meetings have shaped my approach to Antarctic science; and discuss the tools we are developing to facilitate scientifically-supported environmental decisions for Antarctica.

Dr. Fraser Morgan is a senior scientist at Landcare Research based in Auckland, New Zealand. Fraser’s background is in geography with a focus on geospatial modelling. His research interests range from Antarctic, terrestrial bioregions, environmental impact assessments, and land use and land cover change models. Currently, Fraser leads an MBIE research programme investigating the environmental pressures on the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, and continues to be involved in modelling the implications of various environmental policies and changing farmer behaviour within New Zealand. Fraser also lead the technical development of the Antarctic Environments Portal, a platform for science to policy advice to the Antarctic Consultative Treaty Meetings, in association with Antarctica New Zealand.

Dr Richard Levy

Antarctic ice sheet sensitivity – Insight from the past and implications for our future
(co-authors Nick Golledge, Tim Naish, and Robert McKay)
Changes in the volume and extent of Antarctica’s ice sheets are primarily controlled by changes in global climate that are driven by variations in (1) incoming solar radiation due to changes in Earth’s orbital configuration, (2) surface reflectivity (albedo), and (3) greenhouse gas concentrations. Change in land surface elevation also plays a significant role over longer ‘geological’ time scales. Geological drill cores and outcrop in the Transantarctic Mountains provide key environmental records that offer insight into past ice sheet response to the range of forcings and identify important thresholds in the Earth system. Numerical modelling experiments provide insight into ice sheet dynamics during intervals of change identified in the geological records and allow us to examine ice sheet response at the continental scale. Results show that the Antarctic ice sheet retreats under past climate scenarios where average surface temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were similar to those projected for the coming decades. These ‘paleo-calibrated’ ice sheet models are also used to examine response of the AIS to future warming scenarios. Outcomes suggest that large regions of the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets are vulnerable to relatively small increases in temperature.

Dr Richard Levy is a Senior Scientist at GNS Science where he leads two major environmental research programmes. His research primarily focuses on the evolution of Earth’s climate system in the mid to high southern latitudes over the past 40 million years. He has spent much of his career studying ancient sediments and fossilised life forms to reconstruct environmental conditions that characterised Antarctica during times of warmth in our planets past. Richard has extensive experience in scientific drilling and has lead major projects in Antarctica and New Zealand - with many stories to tell. His current interests include sea level rise impacts on New Zealand’s coastal systems - the downstream consequences of change in Antarctica.