Antarctica and the Southern Ocean influence both the regional and global climate in profound ways. These vast areas will experience significant change as the world warms, and in turn those changes will impact on the global climate. Many of the impacts of climate change will be seen in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica before anywhere else on Earth.
It is ACE’s role to investigate the critical scientific uncertainties that limit the way Australia and the global community can respond to the impacts of these changes.
View: Dr Tony Press (CEO) discusses his vision for ACE research
View: Dr Steve Rintoul discusses the importance of Antarctic and Southern Ocean regions to Australia's climate
We are answering the following five crucial questions.
- How is the Southern Ocean changing and what are the implications of this change for Australia and global climate?
ACE addresses this question though projects studying Southern Ocean circulation; the role of, and changes to, sea ice; and interactions between the ocean and floating ice shelves which fringe the Antarctic ice sheet.
- How will the Antarctic ice sheet respond to changes in climate and what impact will this have on our climate and sea level?
This requires better understanding of ice sheet dynamics and the interaction between ice shelves and the ocean will react to climate change. Ice cores provide a valuable record of past changes to climate and the ice sheet.
- Will the Southern Ocean continue to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and how rapidly will this increase the acidity of the ocean?
To answer this question we undertake basic research into the Southern Ocean carbon sink and changes to, and impacts of, ocean acidification. We also assess the risks and benefits of artificial ocean fertilisation for mitigating atmospheric CO2 increase.
- How will changes in the Southern Ocean and sea ice affect Antarctic ecosystems and fisheries?
ACE scientists are investigating the ecosystem impacts of climate change on ocean productivity and food web processes. This work is closely linked with the investigation of changes to the physical climate system including ocean circulation; sea ice; and ocean acidification.
- What are the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise for Australia?