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 2010 Muse Prize Fellow Helen Fricker named AGU Fellow

Prof Helen FrickerProf Helen Fricker was recently named as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  AGU fellows are recognised for their “exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences as valued by their peers and vetted by a committee of Fellows”.  The 2017 Fellows will be recognised in the Honors Tribute at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting in December.

Helen, a professor at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, was awarded the Tinker-Muse Prize in 2010 for her discovery of active sub-glacial lakes and her leadership in the application of remote sensing techniques to understand ice sheet processes.


Matthew England awarded 2017 Tinker-Muse Prize

The prestigious Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica for 2017 has been awarded to University of New South Wales (UNSW) scientist Professor Matthew England in recognition of his outstanding research, leadership and advocacy for Antarctic science.

The US $100,000 international prize, awarded by the Tinker Foundation and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, is presented annually to an individual whose work has enhanced the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica.

Scientia Professor England, of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, was honoured for his “sustained and seminal contribution to Antarctic science through profound insights into the influence of the Southern Ocean on the continent and its role in the global climate system”.

He was also recognised for his significant leadership roles in international programs such as the Climate and Ocean – Variability, Predictability, and Change (CLIVAR) project and the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project of the World Climate Research Program, where he has demonstrated a strong commitment to collegiality, capacity building and the global impact of Antarctic science.

“Importantly, Professor England has consistently shown a rare ability to translate global issues to local impacts, and in an engaging and accessible way to the general public,” the prize citation reads.

“He has led the world in championing the importance of Southern Ocean water masses and circulation in global climate, pioneering our understanding of the Southern Annular Mode and its influence on the coupled ocean-ice-atmosphere system, quantifying rates and pathways of the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, and discovering new insights into the physics of tropical high-latitude teleconnections.”

Professor England said: “I am delighted to receive this award and I wish to pay tribute to my research team and collaborators – past and present – for inspiring my work in Antarctic and Southern Ocean science.

“Antarctica plays a crucial role in regional and global climate. This award will further focus my efforts to better understand Antarctica's climate as well as the ocean circulation around the continent, aiming to improve our knowledge of the region's vulnerability to climate change.

“Preserving the Antarctic environment requires limiting carbon emissions to keep global warming below 1.5–2 degrees Celsius. We need to ensure this commitment is met. Every fraction of a degree of warming poses a greater risk for Antarctic ice sheet stability and catastrophic sea-level rise.”

UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston said: “We congratulate Matthew on receiving this well-deserved prestigious award. The Antarctic continent and its surrounding oceans are a critical component of the earth’s climate system. What happens in this oft-forgotten region of the world matters to all of us. Matthew is an outstanding scientist who has dedicated his career to the southern oceans and this is due recognition of his enormous contributions.

“Matthew is also an inspirational leader, training the next generation of Antarctic scientists and using his talent as a science communicator to advocate for strong policy on climate change,” she said.

After appointments at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Toulouse France, and then CSIRO in Australia, England joined UNSW Sydney in 1995 where he has held Australian Research Council Federation and Laureate Fellowships. In 2007, he established the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre with Professor Andy Pitman. The CCRC became the host institution for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science in 2011.

England’s Antarctic research spans oceanography, climate dynamics, atmospheric processes, climate variability, paleoclimate and ice-ocean interactions. He has written seminal papers on the topics of Antarctic water-mass formation, ocean-atmosphere interactions, Southern Hemisphere climate variability, and Southern Ocean ventilation rates, including pioneering work on the use of tracers to evaluate large-scale ocean circulation in the Antarctic region. He has published more than 180 peer-reviewed journal articles during the past 25 years.

England has also been highly active in teaching, research supervision, media and outreach, lecturing to more than 3000 students and supervising projects for more than 50 PhDs and early career scientists.

In 2014, England was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and in 2016 he was elected a Fellow of The American Geophysical Union.

The award will be officially presented to him at the 12th International Conference for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography, AMOS-ICSHMO 2018, to be held at UNSW Sydney, Australia from 5 to 9 February 2018.


2017 Tinker-Muse Prize Open for Nominations

We are delighted to announce that the 2017 Tinker-Muse Prize is now open for nominations - see the Nominations page .

The “Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica” is a USD $100,000 unrestricted award presented to an individual in the fields of Antarctic science and/or policy who has demonstrated potential for sustained and significant contributions that will enhance the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica. The Prize is inspired by Martha T. Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is a legacy of the International Polar Year 2007-2008.
The prize-winner can be from any country and work in any field of Antarctic science and/or policy. The goal is to provide recognition of the important work being done by the individual and to call attention to the significance of understanding Antarctica in a time of change.


2016 Tinker-Muse Prize winner receives award at SCAR Open Science Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Tinker Muse Prize Award Ceremony 2016 was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, on Tuesday August 23rd as part of the 2016 SCAR Open Science Conference. The Chair of the Selection Committee, Professor Peter Barrett, provided some of the background to the selection of the 2016 Prize winner, while Renate Rennie, President of the Tinker Foundation, spoke about the importance of the award and its progress over the last 8 years. Professor Robert DeConto was then presented with the award by Renate Rennie.


As one of the Keynote Speakers at the Open science Conference, Professor DeConto delivered his acceptance lecture immediately after the Award ceremony entitled “Thresholds for the Birth and Death of an Ice Sheet”. The lecture covered his own background and collaborations as well as providing an overview of the state of the art in development and use of coupled ice sheet-climate models, and their crucial role in understanding the contribution of the Antarctic to global climate.

A recording of the live webcast of the ceremony and the acceptance speech are available on YouTube.



Dr Ian Allison elected as fellow of Australian Academy of Science

Dr Ian Allison, long-time member and previous chair of the Tinker-Muse Prize selection committee, has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

The Australian Academy of Science is a Fellowship of Australia’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for outstanding research that has pushed back the frontiers of knowledge.  Only 20 Fellows are elected to the Academy each year.

During his long career with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Ian has worked across a range of disciplines including glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, and ice-shelf–ocean interaction.  A major focus of his research has been the role of Antarctica in the global climate system and its response to climate change.

For more information, see the news item on the AAD website.

Read Dr Ian Allison's citation here.


Rob DeConto awarded 2016 Tinker-Muse Prize

Robert DeContoThe 2016 Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica has been awarded to Professor Robert DeConto, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. This recognition comes for his outstanding work on past and future Antarctic climate and for research integrating geological data with modelling to reveal likely consequences for future sea level rise from ice sheet melt.

Rob DeConto’s background spans geology, oceanography, atmospheric science and glaciology. He studied at the University of Colorado in the late 1980s and early 1990s before undertaking one of the first PhD studies on Earth System modelling to help understand warm climates in the geologic past. This was followed by post doctoral positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), before joining the faculty of the University of Massachusetts.

In the last fifteen years, Rob’s work has focused on the climate of Antarctica, the dynamics of ice sheets, and the sensitivity of the Antarctic Ice Sheets (and sea level) to conditions warmer than today. The need for model/field data integration was born in part from an international workshop he organized in 2002 that laid the ground work for what would eventually become the SCAR Antarctic Climate Evolution (ACE) and SCAR Past Antarctic Ice Sheet Evolution (PAIS) scientific research programmes. His leadership has been instrumental in bringing ice sheet modelling and data acquisition communities together, enabling a data-constrained modelling approach to understanding the past and future behaviour of Antarctica’s ice sheets. This initially led to the now classic 2003 Nature paper with modeller David Pollard, Pennsylvania State University, which presented a new coupled ice sheet-climate model showing how atmospheric CO2 levels declining below ~3 times pre-industrial levels could initiate ice sheet growth on Antarctica.

Rob’s pioneering data-model integration strategy was also key to the success of the ANDRILL programme, central to SCAR ACE and PAIS, and eventually adapted by the International Ocean Drilling Program’s (IODP) science plan with an emphasis on the role of the South Polar region in climate evolution and sea level history.

Over the last decade, Rob has worked with colleagues to build on this basic methodology in a series of influential papers, incorporating new and significant ice loss processes that provide improved comparisons between model results and geological data. In their most recent article (DeConto and Pollard, Nature, March 2016), the models predict a doubling in the amount of sea level rise by the end of the century and beyond, compared with the 2013 assessment by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This increased sea-level rise comes from melting ice sheets if atmospheric CO2 emissions continue to rise as at present.  They also show that aggressive reductions in CO2 emissions in order stabilize global warming at no more than 2 degrees C agreed in the Paris Climate Change Accord, substantially limits Antarctic ice sheet melting and future sea-level rise.

Rob DeConto says, “I am thrilled to receive this award. Our work indicates we do still have choices in addressing climate change and sea-level rise. The award will stimulate my work with colleagues to improve the robustness of this new generation of models, hopefully leading to greater confidence in confronting the issue.”

Julie Brigham-Grette, Head, Department of Geosciences. University of Massachusetts Amherst, and chair of the U.S. National Academy Polar Research Board, says, “DeConto has forged an international reputation through his work with colleagues toward understanding the processes and dynamic interactions of past ice sheets and climate. The latest article reflects his evolving research focus toward Antarctica’s future and global-to-local sea-level impacts, by informing international climate mitigation policy.”

The award will be officially presented to him at the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) 2016 Open Science Conference in Kuala Lumpur on August 23. 


2015 Muse Prize Fellow appointed as co-chair of IPCC Working Group

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has appointed the 2015 Martha T. Muse Prize winner, Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte, as co-Chair of Working Group I, which assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change, for Assessment Report 6 (AR6). This prestigious appointment follows Dr Masson-Delmotte's previous service for IPCC as Lead Author of IPCC AR4 (paleoclimate chapter) and Coordinating Lead Author of IPCC AR5 (paleoclimate chapter).

For more details, see the IPCC website.


2015 Muse Prize winner receives her award in Venice

Valerie Masson-Delmotte receives the awardThe Martha T. Muse Prize Award Ceremony 2015 was held at Palazzo Franchetti, part of the Istituto Veneto in Venice, on Thursday, September 3rd.  Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte received the Martha T. Muse Prize from Renate Rennie, Chairman and President of the Tinker Foundation, and the Chair of the Selection Committee, Prof. Peter Barrett.

The event took place during the PAGES Antarctica2K meeting being held at Palazzo Franchetti, which included many of Dr Masson-Delmotte's close colleagues.

A recording of the live webcast of the ceremony and the acceptance speech are available on YouTube.

Valerie Masson-Delmotte making her acceptance speechValerie Masson-Delmotte chatting with colleagues

Top right: Valérie Masson-Delmotte receives the Muse Prize from Renate Rennie, Chair of the Tinker Foundation, with Peter Barrett, chair of the Selection Committee.  Above left: Valérie making her acceptance speech with a presentation outlining her plans for the future.  Above right: Valérie chatting with colleagues at the prize ceremony reception.


2012 Muse Prize Fellow to give S.T. Lee Lecture

Dr Steve Rintoul, who was awarded the 2012 Muse Prize for his work on Southern Ocean circulation, will give the 2015 S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies at the Victoria University of Wellington on Tuesday 15 September.

The S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies was established by Singaporean philanthropist Lee Seng Tee. This high-profile lecture series, held annually, is designed to recognise and bolster the University's strong contribution to Antarctic research.  Previous lecturers include Muse Prize Fellows Prof Steven Chown and Prof Martin Siegert.

Dr Rintoul's lecture is entitled The Fate of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: Lessons from the geological past and how they are informing future predictions.  More information on the lecture is available from the S.T. Lee Lecture website.


Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte awarded the 2015 Martha T Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica

Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte has been awarded the 2015 Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica for her work on the characterization, quantification and understanding of past changes in climate and water cycle, translating the isotopic data to paleo-temperature records.

Dr Masson has used combinations of the water isotope data to interpret the transport route for the moisture reaching Antarctica and elevation changes of the deep drill sites in Antarctica.  She has an interdisciplinary profile in isotopic geochemistry, glaciology, climate modelling and paleoclimatology. She has also contributed to the paleoclimate chapters of two IPCC reports: as Lead Author of IPCC AR4 and as Coordinating Lead Author of IPCC AR5. Her leadership roles in major international Antarctic collaborations include the IGBP-PAGES International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS) and with the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS). Her research prizes include the prestigious 2013 Prix Irène Joliot Curie for “Scientific woman of the year” and she was recognised as “Highly cited scientist” by Thomson Reuters (2014).  She is currently head of the scientific and technical council of LSCE (Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement) at CEA (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives).  Dr Masson would like to acknowledge her research on Antarctic ice cores could not have been possible without the support of the French Polar Institute (IPEV).

The Prize Ceremony will be held at the PAGES Antarctica2K meeting in September.


Muse Fellows Colloquium videos online

Video recordings of the first Martha T. Muse Fellows Colloquium, held on 22 April in Queenstown, New Zealand, are available to view online through YouTube.


Professor Tim Naish awarded the 2014 Martha T Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica

Professor Tim Naish has been awarded the 2014 Muse Prize, for his outstanding research in understanding Antarctica’s response to past and present climate change and the role of Antarctica’s ice sheets in global sea-level change through time.  He led the first season of the ambitious and highly successful Antarctic Drilling Program (ANDRILL) where his international team pioneered innovative drilling technology to obtain sedimentary records of the past 13 million years, paving the way for further successful drilling in previously inaccessible ice-covered areas.  As Chair of the ANDRILL Steering Committee, he continued to be actively involved in overseeing the programme, including securing funding for the next phase.  More recently, he has played an influential role in the process of translating science into policy as a lead author on the Paleoclimate chapter of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  He is currently Director of the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, which continues to develop and has more than trebled its capacity under his direction.

The Prize Ceremony will be held at the SCAR Open Science Conference in Auckland in August.


The 1st Martha T. Muse Fellows Colloquium -  April 22, 2014; Queenstown, NZ
"What will Antarctica and the Southern Ocean look like in 2065?"

Many forecasters and futurists tell us that in 2065:
- the world’s human population will be 8.5 billion,
- atmospheric CO2 levels will exceed 650 ppm under a business as usual scenario,
- the Arctic ocean will be ice free in August and September,
- average global temperature will 4°C warmer than in 2000,
- ocean pH will be less than 8.2, and
- sea level will be ~26 cm higher than in 1990.

What will these dramatic changes to Planet Earth mean for the world’s last great wilderness and a bellwether of global change – Antarctica and the Southern Ocean? To speculate about this future world and the ramifications for human societies, the “1st Martha T. Muse Colloquium” will convene a panel of the Martha Muse Prize Awardees and Guests to address the topic ““Beyond the Horizon – Antarctica and the Southern Ocean 2065” in Queenstown, NZ on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. The Colloquium is part of the “1st SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan” ( that is assembling ~80 of the world’s leading Antarctic scientists, policymakers, and logistics science funders to develop a collective community view of the most timely, urgent and compelling scientific questions that need to be addressed in the next two decades.

The Colloquium panel will include Marta T. Muse Prize Fellows Steven Chown (terrestrial ecologist and policy adviser), Monash University, Melbourne, AUS; Helen Fricker (glaciologist and satellite observational specialist), University of California, San Diego, USA; José Xavier (marine biologist ecologist and marine mammals expert), University of Coimbra and the British Antarctic Survey, Portugal/UK; Steve Rintoul, (physical oceanographic modeller and observationalist) CSIRO, AUS; and Martin Siegert(glaciologist and geologist), University of Bristol University, UK. The Muse Fellows will be joined on the panel by Neil Gilbert (policy adviser and Antarctic governance expert) Antarctica New Zealand, NZ and Gary Wilson (marine geologist and geophysicist and paleoclimate expert) Director of the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI), NZ. The panel will be moderated by public NZ personality or popular news scientist to be named. The Muse Colloquium will be made widely available via the web, details to follow.


Obituary: Martha T Muse

SCAR and the Selection Committee for the Martha T Muse Prize for Antarctic Science and Policy join the Tinker Foundation in mourning the passing of Martha T Muse on 9th February 2014. Martha was a founding director of the Tinker Foundation. She served as its president for 27 years and its chairman for 33 years, retiring in 2008. It was under her direction that the Foundation became a leading funder of Latin American-related activities, providing support for educational, environmental, security, economic, legal and governance issues. One of her final directives to the Tinker Foundation was incorporating Antarctica-related subjects under its funding mandate. Her passion for Antarctica was recognised with the Tinker Foundation establishing the Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica, an award for mid-career Antarctic scientists and policy makers, recognised as leaders of tomorrow. The First Martha T Muse Fellows Colloquium will be held in her honour, in conjunction with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan, in April 2014 in New Zealand.

Martha received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 19