NESSC Christmas Lecture

Arbol_Navidad_01On Sunday December 20th, the annual NESSC Christmas lecture will take place. This year’s lecture will be given by NESSC-researcher prof. dr. Michiel van den Broeke (Utrecht University). Note: this lecture will be in Dutch. 

The lecture will be held at Science Center NEMO in Amsterdam, starting at 4pm (coffee and tea from 3.30pm). If you’d like to take a look around in the museum first: by showing your ticket, you get free admission to NEMO from 1pm.

The ice of Greenland and Antarctica
In this lecture we travel to Greenland and Antarctica, home to almost all the land ice on earth. The ice sheets we find here are so large that they can create their own climate.

IJs bij Tasiilaq, Groenland. Foto: Christine Zenino via Wikimedia Commons

On Antarctica we find powerful winds (8 Bft) and the lowest temperatures on earth (-95 degrees Celsius). Because of the cold, a kilometers-thick ice sheet has formed which contains enough water to raise the sea level with 60 meters. An ice core from the middle of the Antarctic ice sheet brings us back to a million years in the past!


The Greenland ice sheet is almost 10 times as small and has a way more moderate climate. In summer meltwater forms large lakes. Scientists also recently discovered a huge, hundreds of kilometers long water reservoir that hides in the deep snow.

What explains these extreme climatic conditions? Are these ice sheets threatened by global warming? And what does this mean for the rising sea level? These and other questions will be addressed during this lecture. But of course we will also marvel at the imposing landscapes of these cold, faraway places.

Michiel van den Broeke (Rotterdam, 1968) is professor in Polaire Meteorologie at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research at Utrecht University (IMAU). He went on field trips to Iceland, Svalbard, Greenland and Antarctica. In 2015 he received an Louis Agassiz Medal from the Geuropean Geosciences Union (EGU). In the same year, he got elected to be member of the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW).