Dr Rob Massom

Dr Rob Massom.
Dr Rob Massom. (Photo: Rob Massom)

Dr Rob Massom: BSc (Hons), PhD
Senior Research Scientist: sea ice and remote sensing

Research interests

I have been involved in polar research since joining the Sea Ice Group of the Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge, England) in 1980, initially working primarily in the Arctic (1980-1992) then the Antarctic (1986-present).

After completing my PhD in 1989 (a detailed satellite-and drifting buoy-based analysis of an annual sea ice cycle in the Weddell Sea), this ongoing adventure took me on a postdoctoral fellowship to the Oceans and Ice Branch of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (USA). I then moved to Tasmania in 1992 to take up a position at the (then) Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre, before joining the Australian Antarctic Division in 2006.

I am currently a senior research scientist with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC) and Australian Antarctic Division, and a member of the ACE CRC Cryosphere program.

My current research interests include:

  • changes in Antarctic sea ice and polar oceans and their physical and ecological significance, and bipolar comparisons
  • the impact of modes of large-scale anomalous atmospheric circulation and extreme events on sea ice properties and ecology
  • remote sensing of sea ice and its validation
  • snow cover on sea ice (characteristics and impacts)
  • sea ice and penguins
  • interactions between the Antarctic Ice Sheet and sea ice (including ice-shelf breakup processes).

Current projects

International representation/collaborations

  • ISPRS Working Group VIII/10 Cryosphere
  • International Programme for Antarctic Buoys member
  • Council member, International Glaciological Society
  • Editorial Board member, Polar Research and Annals of Glaciology
  • My work is dependent on international cross-disciplinary collaboration with colleagues from NASA (Dr Joey Comiso); University of California Santa Cruz, USA (Dr Sharon Stammerjohn); Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, USA (Drs Dan Lubin and Helen Fricker); the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (Dr Ted Scambos); CRREL, USA (Dr Matthew Sturm); University of Hokkaido, Japan (Drs Takeshi Tamura, Takenobu Toyota and Kay Ohshima); NIPR, Japan (DR Shuki Ushio); University of Otago, New Zealand (Prof. Vernon Squire); CNRS, France (Dr Benoit Légresy); CEB Chizé, France (Dr Christophe Barbraud); CNRS Strasbourg France (Dr André Ancel); the Argentine Navy Meteorological Service (Dr Sandra Barreira); University of Alberta, Canada (Dr Christian Haas); and the University of Bristol, UK (Dr Tim Williams)

Key outcome areas

  • Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)
  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources(CCAMLR)
  • International Whaling Commission (IWC)
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Related links

Selected Publications


Lubin, D., and R. A. Massom, 2006, Polar Remote Sensing. Volume 1: Atmosphere & Polar Oceans, Praxis/Springer. Chichester, UK, and Berlin, Germany, 756 pages.

Massom, R. A., and D. Lubin, 2006, Polar Remote Sensing. Volume 2: Ice Sheets, Praxis/Springer. Chichester, UK, and Berlin, Germany, 426 pages.

Massom, R., 1991, Satellite Remote Sensing of Polar Regions: Applications, Limitations and Data Availability, Belhaven Press, London, and Lewis Publishers (CRC Press), Boca Raton, USA, 307 pages.

Book chapters

Sturm, M. and R.A. Massom, 2010. Snow and Sea Ice. In D. Thomas and G. Dieckman (Editors), Sea Ice. 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, New York (USA) and Oxford (UK), pp. 153-204.

Massom, R. A., 2009. Principal Uses of Remote Sensing in Sea-Ice Field Research. In H. Eicken (Editor), Handbook on Field Techniques in Sea-Ice Research, University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, USA, pp. 405-466.

Massom, R.A. 2009. Chapters on Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica; Dronning Maud Land; and Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelves and Ellsworth Mountains. In: D. McGonigal (Editor), Antarctica: Secrets of the Southern Continent. Frances Lincoln Ltd Publishers, UK.

Barber, D. G., and R. A. Massom, 2007. A Bi-polar Assessment of Modes of Polynya Formation. In W. O. Smith and D. G. Barber (Editors), Polynyas: Windows to the World's Oceans, pp. 1-54, Elsevier, Amsterdam (ISBN-13: 978-0444529527).

Massom, R. A., 2006. Remote Sensing. In B. Riffenburgh (Editor), Encyclopedia of the Antarctic, Routledge, New York, pp. 790-796.

Scientific papers

Fraser, A.D., R.A. Massom, K. Michael. 2010. Generation of high-resolution East Antarctic landfast sea-ice maps from cloud-free MODIS satellite composite imagery. Remote Sensing of Environment, 114(2010), 2888-2896.

Massom, R.A., A.B. Giles, H.A. Fricker, R.C. Warner, B. Legresy, G. Hyland, N. Young & A.D. Fraser. In press. Examining the interaction between multi-year landfast sea ice and the Mertz Glacier Tongue, East Antarctica: Another factor in ice sheet stability? Journal of Geophysical Research.

Massom, R.A., P. Reid, S. Stammerjohn & S. Barreira. (2010), Antarctica: Sea ice extent and concentration. In: Arndt, D.S., M.O. Baringer, M.R. Johnson (editors), State of The Climate in 2009. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91(7), S131-S133.

Massom, R.A., and S.E. Stammerjohn. 2010. Antarctic sea ice change and variability – Physical and ecological implications. Polar Science, 4, 149-186.

Fraser, A. D., R. A. Massom, and K. J. Michael, 2009. A method for compositing polar MODIS images to remove cloud cover for landfast sea-ice detection. IEEE Trans. Geosc. Rem. Sens., 47(9), 3272-3282.

Giles, A.B., R.A. Massom & R.C. Warner. 2009. A method for sub-pixel scale feature-tracking using Radarsat images applied to the Mertz Glacier Tongue, East Antarctica. Remote Sensing of Environment, 113, 1691-1699.

Massom, R.A., K. Hill, C. Barbraud, N. Adams, A. Ancel, L. Emmerson, & M.J. Pook. 2009. Fast ice distribution in Adélie Land, East Antarctica: Interannual variability and implications for emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri). Marine Ecology Progress Series, 374, 243-257.

Massom R., Stammerjohn S., Lefebvre W., Harangozo S., Adams N., Scambos T, Pook M. & Fowler C. 2008. West Antarctic Peninsula sea ice in 2005: Extreme ice compaction and ice edge retreat due to strong anomaly with respect to climate. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, C02S20, doi:10.1029/2007JC004239.

Massom, R.A., P. Reid, S. Barriera, & S. Stammerjohn. 2008. Antarctica: Sea ice extent and concentration. In D.H. Levinson & J.H. Lawrimore (editors), State of The Climate in 2007. Special Supplement to Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 89, 7, S103-104.

Giles, A.B., Massom, R.A., & Lytle, V.I. 2008. Fast ice distribution in East Antarctica during 1997 and 1999 determined using Radarsat data. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, C02S14, doi:10.1029/2007JC004139

Massom, R.A., Stammerjohn, S.E., Smith, R.C., Pook, M.J., Iannuzzi, R.A., Adams, N., Martinson, D.G., Vernet, M., Fraser, W.R., Quetin, L.B., Ross, R.M., Massom, Y. & Krouse, H.R. 2006. Extreme anomalous atmospheric circulation in the West Antarctic Peninsula region in austral spring and summer 2001/2, and its profound impact on sea ice and biota. Journal of Climate, 19, 3544-3571

Massom, R.A., Worby, A.P., Lytle, V.I., Markus, T., Allison, I., Scambos, T., Enomoto, H., Tateyama, K., Haran, T., Comiso, J.C., Pfaffling, A., Tamura, T., Muto, A., Kanagaratnam, P. & Giles, B. 2006. ARISE (Antarctic Remote Ice Sensing Experiment) in the East 2003: Validation of satellite derived sea ice data products. Annals of Glaciology, 44, 288-296

Massom, R.A., Pook, M.J., Comiso, J.C., Adams, N., Turner, J., Lachlan-Cope, T. & Gibson, T.T. 2004. Precipitation over the interior East Antarctic Ice Sheet related to mid-latitude blocking-high activity. Journal of Climate, 17(10): 1914–1928.

Massom, R. A., Recent iceberg calving events in the Ninnis Glacier region, East Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 15(2), 303-313.

Massom, R. A., H. Eicken, C. Haas, M. O. Jeffries, M. R. Drinkwater, M. Sturm, A. P. Worby, X. Wu, V. I. Lytle, S. Ushio, K. Morris, P. A. Reid, S. Warren, & I. Allison, Snow on Antarctic sea ice. Reviews of Geophysics, 39(3), 413-445, 2001.

Massom, R. A., K. Hill, V. I. Lytle, A. Worby, & I. Allison, Effects of regional fast-ice & iceberg distributions on the behaviour of the Mertz Glacier Polynya, East Antarctica, Annals of. Glaciology, 33, 391-398, 2001.

Massom, R.A., J.C. Comiso, A.P. Worby, V.I. Lytle, & L. Stock. 1999. Satellite & in situ observations of regional classes of sea ice cover in the East Antarctic pack in winter. Remote Sensing of Environment, 68(1), 61-76.

Massom, R.A., P. T. Harris, K. Michael, & M.J. Potter. 1998. The distribution & formative processes of latent heat polynyas in East Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 27, 420-426, 1998.

Massom, R.A. 1992. Observing the advection of sea ice in the Weddell Sea using buoy & satellite passive microwave data. Journal of Geophysical Research, 97(C10), 15,559–15,572.