Guest Speaker - Professor Gary Wilson
Climate Change - Antarctica
General Manager Strategy at GNS Science
Vice President - Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
Chair – NZ Royal Society Committee on Antarctic Sciences
Trustee – Sir Peter Blake Trust
Editor in Chief – Geological Oceanography - Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, MDPI Basel Switzerland
Councillor – Australian Institute for Nuclear Science and Engineering
Physical Science Lead – NZ Antarctic Science Platform
Director – Otago Southern Ocean Marine Institute
3rd March 2021
With credentials like this, for those of you who are climate change sceptics, I challenge you to spend just 30 minutes with Gary and see how you get on arguing your point of view.
Gary has spent oodles of time in the Antarctic – over 30 trips with a total time period of the equivalent of 4 years, getting around by ship, plane, helicopter and those cool tractor mobiles – he knows the place really well.
It seems that the best place to measure what’s going on with global temperature is by seeing what’s happening at the Earth’s poles. Right now – there’s a lot going on!
They drilled into the Antarctic sediment – about 1.3km deep and the story they read from the tea leaves layers told us that while there had been some significant climate change in the past, when you compare those results with where things are heading today – we are off the charts.
The Artic circle is heading for a 5-7-degree increase and the Antarctic is getting warmer as well…not quite tropical but within the next 50 years or so we could say goodbye to the Ross Ice Shelf and other significant chunks of ice. The warming seas eat away at the ice sitting on the sea floor and form a kind of circular current that drags the warm water down and melts more ice shelves - bummer!
So where will all this melting ice end up? Well it could raise the sea levels by between 7 and 20 meters wiping out low lying lands and having more devastating effects with storm surges. The warming oceans mean that we will have more storms, they will be more intense, and we will see bigger floods and stronger winds. It’s pretty bad!
We need to get with the programme and reduce our carbon emissions – NZ has the third highest per capita emissions level behind the US and the Aussies. Even at a personal level you can make a difference – reduce your transport carbon footprint (private transport makes up 50% of transport emissions). Gary has two electric powered vehicles – if we all do something small it can end up being pretty big.
What sort of ancestors do we want to be? – let’s leave a better legacy and better place for our children and their children.
Brent Gerrard