Sea ice symposium

An international contingent of sea ice scientists converged on Hobart in March for the 4th International Sea Ice Symposium of the International Glaciological Society, hosted by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC).

The symposium, on the theme Sea Ice in a Changing Environment, ran for five days, but the full program stretched over 11 days and included seven workshops and the inaugural Public Open Science Day (see next story). Over 210 delegates, including 173 from 16 overseas countries, attended the meeting, with strong representation from Belgium, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the USA.

A total of 155 oral presentations, including 10 keynote lectures and over 120 posters contributed to the 14 symposium topics. The latter were strongly multi-disciplinary and covered a wide range of highly topical issues. These included large-scale change and variability in both polar regions; advances in sea ice analysis using remote sensing, modelling and palaeo records; advances in instrumentation and observation methods; sea ice and ecosystems modelling; and interactions between sea ice and ice sheets, ice shelves, icebergs, the ocean and atmosphere and the biosphere.

Scientific highlights showcased during the symposium included new findings on the 2013 Antarctic sea ice extent maximum and the strong regionalisation of Antarctic sea ice processes, Arctic sea ice decrease, linkages between Antarctic sea ice and ice shelf health, bipolar control mechanisms of algal assemblages, and advances in numerical modelling, remote sensing, instrumentation and methods. The affiliated workshops allowed specialised task and working groups to present and discuss new developments and future directions with their participants.

A strong field of student and young scientist contributions were judged for best poster and oral presentations by a panel led by Professor Emeritus Willy Weeks. Professor Weeks, who is acknowledged as the leading living sea ice scientist, also entertained delegates with a very personal account of sea ice research over the last 50 years (the ‘good old days’).

In tune with the topic of this symposium, the International Glaciological Society will publish a thematic issue of the Annals of Glaciology (Volume 69), including about 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts received from symposium participants and non-participants.

Feedback from symposium participants on the quality and relevance of presentations and the symposium set up has been very positive. Delegates also enjoyed their welcome by the Tasmanian Governor, the Honourable Peter Underwood, one evening at Government House, and the time allocated to enjoy Tasmania’s unique outdoor and cultural scene during Wednesday afternoon excursions.

The symposium would not have been possible without the generous support and sponsorship offered by a number of organizations, both local and world-wide. These included the ACE CRC, the World Climate Research Programme’s Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project (Norway), the Office of Naval Research — Global (USA), the Tasmanian Government Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts, the International Association for Cryospheric Sciences, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS — at the University of Tasmania), the University of Manitoba (Canada), Business Events Tasmania, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (USA). This sponsorship included support for young scientists to attend the conference. The Local Organising Committee is grateful to the sponsors and other supporters for enabling this world-class event to be hosted by the ACE CRC in Hobart.

Last but not least, the organising committee is grateful for the help and enthusiasm of many volunteers from the ACE CRC, IMAS and the Australian Antarctic Division. Without the extraordinary help of these people, the symposium and associated events could not have taken place.

Petra Heil and Rob Massom
On behalf of the symposium Local Organizing Committee