With expertise in Paleomagnetisms or Physical Properties

Apply to join the Sensitivity of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to 2⁰ Celsius (SWAIS-2C) project in Otago, New Zealand

1-month onshore analysis of retrieved core materials following the summer 2023/4 drilling phase


Project timeline

The SWAIS-2C project will deploy new, low-cost drilling technology to retrieve cores from previously inaccessible sedimentary deposits beneath ice shelves and sea ice. Due to challenges with the drill site location, the cores will be transported to Otago, New Zealand, where they will be described and sampled. You will be expected to participate in all pre- and post-sampling science team commitments associated with the summer 2023/4 drilling phase.


The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) presently holds enough ice to raise global sea level by 4.3 meters if completely melted.The unknown response of the WAIS to future warming remains a significant challenge for numerical models in quantifying predictions of future sea level rise. Sea level rise is one of the clearest planet-wide signals of human-induced climate change. The Sensitivity of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to a Warming of 2°C (SWAIS 2C) Project aims to understand past and current drivers and thresholds of WAIS dynamics to improve projections of the rate and size of ice sheet changes under a range of elevated greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere as well as the associated average global temperature scenarios to and beyond the +2°C target of the Paris Climate Agreement.

SWAIS research objectives:

  1. Understanding grounding line dynamics of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), and the role of crustal dynamics in ice sheet grounding zone position.
  2. Determining how much the WAIS contributed to sea level rise during past, under a range of elevated greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and associated average global temperature scenarios to and beyond the 2°C target of the Paris Climate Agreement.
  3. Investigate the sensitivity of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to long term changes in atmospheric CO2 and tectonics, including potential thresholds in the climate system at atmospheric CO2 concentrations >400 ppm that may cause irreversible retreat of marine based ice sheets.
  4. Examine the composition and activity of both living and inactive microbial populations in sediments beneath the Ross Ice Shelf near the grounding zone of the WAIS to understand element cycling in this underexplored region.

Summer 2023/4 drilling phases: KIS-3

The KIS-3 drill site is located on the crossing point with line KIS1920_2X (inset). Drilling prognosis on the left with estimated depths from the surface and a brief description of stratigraphic intervals and horizons. The thick red line shows the 200 m drilling target depth.

Figure2. Seismic line KIS-3 from Patterson et al., 2022.

To find out more about this project read the SWAIS 2C Workshop report, https://sd.copernicus.org/articles/30/101/2022/, or email anzicprogramscientist@ani.edu.au for the original ICDP proposal.

An introduction to the project will also be presented by Dr. Richard Levy at the ANZIC Forum: Ocean of Opportunity on April 21: https://whova.com/web/heaf_202201/

Who should apply?

We are currently seeking one Australian representative to participate, with a research expertise in either physical properties or paleomagnetism.

We encourage applications from all qualified scientists (including graduate students).

ANZIC is committed to a policy of broad participation and inclusion, and to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all program participants. Good working knowledge of the English language is required.

Applications will be assessed and selected by a joint committee comprising ANZIC Science Committee and AuScope representatives. Successful applicants will be awarded with:

  1. Science party support to travel to New Zealand for one month
  2. $15K in funding to analyses their samples

PLEASE NOTE to APPLY your institution must

  • Approve your travel to and from Otago, New Zealand
  • Provide Travel insurance.
  • agree to cover any additional cost related to delays to a return and/or additional quarantine costs.

Land-2-Sea Geoscience

The ANZIC secretariat based at ANU has partnered with AuScope to pilot Australia’s scientific participation in an International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) project, SWAIS-2C and test the feasibility and value of ICDP membership to Australia. Australia’s participation with SWAIS-2C is thanks to AuScope’s Land-2-Sea Geoscience collaboration, which is driving innovation across the gap between marine and continental geoscience research through a focus on transects from ocean basins onto the continents.

Media coverage of SWAIS-2C project