Half a Century of Studying Antarctica and Climate Change

December 7, 2016

Dr Peter Barrett published his first article on the potentially “unstoppable and catastrophic” effects of climate change on Antarctica in the NZ Listener in 21 February, 1981. This came after almost two decades of research on the ancient coal-bearing strata of the Transantarctic Mountains, and a decade drilling for Antarctica’s past climate history coring strata off the Victoria Land coast.

Peter explained how further drilling has shown that Antarctica’s ice sheet first formed around 34 million years, as atmospheric CO2 levels declined from 800+ parts per million in the “Greenhouse World”, cooling global temperatures. A further decline below 400 ppm 2-3 million years ago led to further cooling and the Ice Ages, with ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere as well as Antarctica.

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