Antarctic Research Centre

RICE (Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution) Project

RICE headquarters, Roosevelt Island, Antarctica


RICE is an international collaboration between New Zealand, USA, Denmark, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Italy, China, and Sweden. The aim of the project is to recover a 750 m deep ice core from Roosevelt Island in Antarctica to determine the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf and West Antarctica in a warming world.

Science Background

The potential for rapid deglaciation of West Antarctica remains a primary uncertainty in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predictions for 21st Century sea level rise. The recent and unpredicted collapse of multiple ice shelves and rapid acceleration of discharge of Antarctic ice suggests that dynamical responses to warming play a more significant role than is currently understood and captured in coupled climate-ice sheet models. Such models can be improved and validated by replicating known past changes. The RICE Project is an international partnership seeking to understand past, present, and future changes of the Ross Ice Shelf, a major drainage pathway of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ANDRILL programme showed, that about 5 to 3 million years ago, the last time when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and temperatures were similar to those predicted for the end of the 21st Century, the Ross Ice Shelf disintegrated multiple times, initiating the collapse of West Antarctica. However, no high resolution data exist from this time period. To determine the rate of change, RICE aims to provide an annually resolved ice core record for the past 20,000 years and beyond, when global temperatures increased by 6 deg C to preindustrial temperatures, global sea level rose by ~120 m, and the Ross Ice Shelf grounding line retreated over 1,000 km. Most of the Ross Ice Shelf retreat occurred when global sea level had already reached modern levels. For this reason, the precise correlation between increasing air and ocean temperatures, and the velocity and characteristics of the ice shelf retreat, provides a unique opportunity to determine accurately the sensitivity of the Ross Ice Shelf to warming.

Science Support and Funding

New Zealand Science Funding is provided through two programmes:

  • Antarctica-New Zealand Interglacial Climate Events (ANZICE),
    Principal Investigator Prof. Lionel Carter,
  • Global Change through Time (GCT),
    Principal Investigator Prof. James Crampton
  • Roosevelt Island Climate Evolution (RICE) Project, Rutherford Discovery Fellowship, Principal Investigator Dr. Nancy Bertler 

The New Zealand Intermediate Depth Ice Core Drilling System is built by the Antarctic Research Centre's Science Drilling Office. The drilling system is based on the Danish Haus Tausen Drilling System Design and has a reach of up 1,000 m depth.

The RICE core will be processed in the New Zealand National Ice Core Research Facility at GNS Science

Antarctic Logistics Support is provided by Antarctica New Zealand for K049.

Project Timeline

RICE project timeline

Information on Workshops and Environmental Evaluation

All PDF documents require Acrobat Reader.

Document File size File type
PDF icon RICE Core Processing 2012



PDF icon RICE Handbook 2011/2012 1.45 MB PDF
PDF icon RICE Workshop, 19-20 May 2011, University of Washington, Seattle, USA 1.13 MB PDF
PDF icon RICE Workshop, 04-05 April 2008, University of Washington, Seattle, USA 147 KB PDF
PDF icon RICE Initial Environmental Evaluation 2 MB PDF

Additional RICE Links