Structure and Content of the Book

Antarctic Climate Evolution presents the state of knowledge concerning the ice and climate history of the Antarctic continent and its surrounding seas throughout the Cenozoic. It begins with two chapters that provide the historical context in which palaeoclimate knowledge has been gathered. In Chapter 2, background to the International Polar Years (IPYs) is presented. These are periods in which major advances in our understanding of the Antarctic continent have occurred. Chapter 3 summarises the history of geological investigations on the continent. The next three chapters provide background information necessary in comprehending Cenozoic change in Antarctica. Chapter 4 discusses the role of the Southern Ocean in modulating and controlling ice and climate in Antarctica, Chapter 5 presents evidence of ice-sheet changes from studies of sea-floor sediments (obtained from drilling and seismic investigations) and Chapter 6 introduces the concept of numerical ice-sheet modelling as a powerful tool in quantifying former ice sheets. From this point, the book presents a series of chapters, each of which deals with a specific time period in Antarctic history, as detailed above.

Our appreciation of Antarctic climate evolution is possible because of pioneering research undertaken over the past 100 or so years. It has involved thousands of academics from a variety of disciplines and, of course, nations. Major advances in our knowledge have come about as a result of large integrated programmes of activity. Organising logistics in Antarctica necessary to gather geological records often needs the finances and assistance of several nations. For example, offshore drilling has been supported by the IODP, and near-shore drilling has been organised through the ANDRILL consortium. Ice coring, subglacial lake exploration, numerical modelling and palaeoceanography each have multination programmes at their core (Chapter 13).

All four IPYs (1882-1883, 1932-1933, 1957-1958 and 2007-2008) have offered momentum and encouragement for international multidisciplinary activities that have lasted well beyond their official time frames. For example, the third IPY (also known as the IGY) resulted in SCAR and the Antarctic Treaty. With several new ambitious programmes being either undertaken or planned within the fourth IPY, the next decade will undoubtedly see our knowledge of Antarctic Climate evolution develop considerably. Such knowledge will be critical to assessing how the Southern Ocean and ice sheets interrelate and feedback with global climate change.


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Developments in Earth & Environmental Sciences, 8 F. Florindo and M. Siegert (Editors) © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved DOI 10.1016/S1571-9197(08)00002-5

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