Antarctica and its surrounding ocean are dominated and shaped by the presence of snow and ice.

The Antarctic environment is very sensitive to climate change. But this unique environment also influences the global climate system.

The climate and geography of the Antarctic region drives many globally significant processes. These include:

  • the uptake of carbon dioxide by the Southern Ocean
  • the overturning circulation of the deep ocean
  • the balance between water storage and discharge in the main continental ice-sheet
  • changes in surface energy, mass and momentum exchange by ice masses
  • energy transfer between all levels of the atmosphere to space.

Understanding these processes is vital. They help us to understand and predict changes to the climate and environment. The impacts of these changes include future greenhouse gas levels, sea-level rise, the variability and rate of climate change, and changes in atmospheric composition.