A pioneering polar scientist will discuss Antarctica and its profound impact on the global climate during a special visit to Heriot-Watt University next month.
On Thursday, April 5th, the University will host a lecture by Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director British Antarctic Survey, at its Edinburgh Campus.
My research has literally taken me to the ends of the Earth.
Professor Francis is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Antarctica’s fascinating history and will deliver her talk entitled; From Greenhouse to Icehouse: history and future of Antarctica’s climate, as part of the University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Lectures series.
Although hard to imagine today, around 100 million years ago, Antarctica was not white but green. The climate was warmed naturally by carbon dioxide from volcanic eruptions, allowing dinosaurs to live in lush polar forests that spread from Patagonia, across Antarctica to Australia.
Forty million years ago, the landscape turned white as the greenhouse climate cooled, ice sheets formed across the South Pole and the continent became the icehouse that we now see. Scientists are using fossilised plants to peer into the region’s exotic past while providing an insight into life in our future warm world.
Professor Francis said: “My research has literally taken me to the ends of the Earth. Amongst the ice and snow I have found fossils of warmth-loving leaves that reveal a world of tropical forests and dinosaurs in the polar regions, signals of a past warm planet that might see again in future.”
Professor Dame Jane Francis is a veteran of more than 15 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica since her first trip in 1989. In 2017, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in recognition of services to UK polar science and diplomacy. She is also Chancellor of the University of Leeds.
Professor Francis’ talk is part of Heriot-Watt’s Year of the Sea celebrations. Throughout 2018, the University will delve into the depths of the world’s oceans to explore new opportunities to extract more energy from this unique resource, and engineering innovative ways to work with our seas, oceans and rivers.
Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “It is a tremendous honour to welcome Professor Francis to our Distinguished Lecture series during our Year of the Sea celebrations.
“Global warming and the impact of melting ice sheets on our climate remains hugely topical and a subject that affects us all and is at the heart of much of our research at the Lyell Centre, and in collaboration with the British Geological Society.”
The Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Lectures invite global leaders of industry, business and academia to share their knowledge and vision with students, colleagues and guests. The lectures cover globally important topics, from manufacturing and energy sustainability to the future of the internet, and are designed to provoke discussion and debate.
To book your place for this upcoming lecture please visit here.