Polar Science: a placement-linked dissertation at the British Antarctic Survey


Choosing a dissertation topic is difficult. It comes down to a balance between finding a subject you won’t despise after 12 months, versus one that will aid you most in your future career aspirations. For me, this involved anything polar. Today almost nothing compares to the issue of human-induced climate change; so an understanding of the polar ice caps, in order to aid in their conservation, is of massive importance. Therefore it is of no surprise that when I found out about a placement-linked dissertation at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) I knew this was the track for me.


What do BAS do?

BAS are the leading body for Antarctic Science in the United Kingdom. They work on a variety of projects across a range of subjects. This includes research in the earth and environmental sciences, as well as the biological sector.


My contribution

During my time at BAS my life will revolve around different ways of analyzing sediment.  Sedimentological work on cores from the Antarctic continental shelf will allow the former limits of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to be reconstructed. The area of Focus will be the Amundsen Sea Sector (figure.1). Basically, what this placement will involve is me playing in a lab for two weeks with, hopefully, some clear results!



Figure.1: The Antarctic continent, including the Amundsen Sea Sector site.

See: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c0/Antarctica.svg/1025px-Antarctica.svg.png


..but why complete this research?

  1. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting, and understanding the past will help climate modelers to predict the future.
  2. Analyzing sediment will constrain the timing and extent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet since the last cold stage.
  3. It’s just fun!


By the end of this blog hopefully you (and I) will gain an insight to what it’s like to work at an institution like BAS, and perhaps you will leave with as much of a love for polar environments as I do! I will keep this page updated throughout the placement, and keep you posted on the work being completed whilst at BAS. Overall, it looks to be a fantastic two weeks in Cambridge and I’m thoroughly excited to have this opportunity!


If you are curious to find out more about the work being undertaken in Antarctica and beyond check out the BAS website & Polar Science for Planet Earth pages at: http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/

Follow the #rhulworkdiss hashtag for updates throughout!



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