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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 2009-10: VUWAE 54

a. Research Objectives

a. Research Objectives

Unprecedented changes are occurring in the Earth's climate. The current decade was the warmest on record since 1880 AD. The global average surface temperature has increased, especially since about 1950 with 100-year trend (1906–2005) of 0.74°C ± 0.18°C (IPCC, 2007). Although the scientific evidence of global warming is now widely regarded as unequivocal (IPCC, 2007), predicting regional impacts still poses challenges. Especially, conclusions of the Southern Hemisphere record are limited by the sparseness of available proxy data at present (Mann & Jones, 2003).

While meteorological records from instrumental and remote sensing data display the large intercontinental climate variability, the series are insufficient to infer trends or to understand the forcing, which renders prediction difficult (Jones et al., 1999; Mann & Jones, 2003). The long ice core records from the Antarctic interior and Greenland revolutionised our understanding of global climate and showed for the first time the occurrence of RCE (Rapid Climate Change Events, for review e.g. Mayweski and White (2002)). To understand the drivers and consequences of climate change on timescales important to humans, a new focus of ice core work is now moving towards the acquisition of 'local' ice cores that overlap with and extend the instrumental records of the last 40 years back over the last several thousand years (Mayewski et al., 2005).

This has been a key motivation behind the US-led International Transantarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) of which New Zealand is a member (Mayewski et al. 2005). The NZ ITASE objective is to recover a series of ice cores from glaciers along a 14 degree latitudinal transect of the climatically sensitive Victoria Land coastline to establish the drivers and feedback mechanism of the Ross Sea climate variability (Bertler et al., 2004a; Bertler et al., 2004b; Bertler & 54 others, 2005; Bertler et al., 2005a; Bertler et al., 2005b; Bertler et al. 2006, Patterson et al., 2005, Rhodes et al. 2009).

Due to logistical constraints by Antarctica New Zealand, the field deployment planned for 2009/10 was cancelled and a substantially reduced programme was carried out.