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Half a Century of Studying Antarctica and Climate Change


Wed 7 Dec 2016, 5:30pm–7:00pm

Where: The Rees Hotel, 377 Frankton Road, Queenstown

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General admission: $5.00
  • Additional fees may apply


Listed by: Catalyst Trust

Since discovering the first dinosaur fossil in Antarctica in the early 1960s, which led to proof of the theory of plate tectonics, Dr Peter Barrett’s mission has been unearthing the geological history of the continent. The advances and retreats of Antarctica’s ice sheet, he says, can reveal 34 million years of climate change. At this Catalyst talk, he reveals what his decades of expeditions to study Antarctica reveal about the future for our climate.

Peter studied geology at Auckland University until he was offered a place in a US geological expedition to Antarctica’s Ellsworth Mountains in 1962. As a PhD student at the Ohio State University, he mapped the geology of the Beardmore Glacier area. Peter returned to NZ in 1970 to become Founding Director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington.

Following a stint on the first Deep Sea Drilling Project cruise to the Antarctic margin in 1972-73, he headed four multinational offshore drilling projects between 1974 and 2000 in collaboration with fellow Kiwi geologist Peter Webb. The aim was a continuous stratal record of Antarctic climate and ice sheet behaviour since its inception 34 million years ago and required a further project in 2006-08 (led by Peter’s successor Tim Naish) for its completion.

Peter has long been interested in climate change on geological time scales for the view it gives us on Earth’s future climate. Recently he has worked with Simon Lamb and others on the award-winning feature documentary “Thin Ice – the Inside Story of Climate Science” to bring this to public attention. He has been in “active retirement” since 2013 and is currently Patron of the NZ Antarctic Society.

Please register at Please carpool as parking is limited.