Lisa Owen interviews two top Antarctic scientists on TV3's The Nation before they head to Queenstown to take part in the inaugural Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan 'A View Beyond the Horizon: Future Directions in Antarctic Science' led by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
Professor Chuck Kennicutt, Chair of the SCAR Horizon Scan International Steering Committee, explained Antarctica is essentially an engine room that drives global systems. "So in areas like Antarctica that change, they affect the entire global system and this is seen through melting of ice, warming of sea water, changing of weather and also the ozone hole which has led to effects that we see around the globe" says Professor Kennicutt.
Professor Gary Wilson, Director of NZARI (the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute), said that the last time the world had CO2 levels as high as today, the West Antarctic Ice Shelf collapsed; a volume of ice that today could cause a 20m rise in sea level. "So we know the end game, we just don't know how fast it might happen".
If global temperature increases continue along the same path as now it is predicted that we will see more icemelt and the impact on Antarctica will be 'much worse'. That impacts the New Zealand economy, which is dependent on ocean and climate conditions driven by Antarctica says Professor Wilson.