Dr Tas van Ommen1

1Australian Antarctic Division

The polar regions are virtually defined in physical terms by ice: regions where the dominant form of fresh water is as a solid. Polar ice sheets hold just under 70% the Earth’s fresh water: enough to raise the world’s oceans by some 66 metres. Polar oceans are largely covered in winter by ice, the formation of which drives deep ocean circulation on a global scale. This sea-ice reflects sunlight, modulates exchanges of heat and water between ocean and atmosphere, and sustains ecosystems. Polar ice in all its forms plays a crucial role in global climate, and the deep ice in the ice sheets also records the march of climate over millennia. This presentation will provide an overview of the remarkable importance of polar ice for the globe and its place in polar science.


Dr Tas van Ommen is Senior Principal Research Scientist with the Australian Antarctic Division, where he has worked as a glaciologist for the past 25 years. Tas has made six research expeditions to Antarctica for ice core drilling and airborne surveys, mapping the thickness of the icesheet. His research specialty is in ice core palaeoclimate and he is leader of the new Australian project to drill for an ice core in excess of a million years. Tas is also co-leader of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences, a peak planning and advisory body consisting of 23 member nations.

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