School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


BSc NZ (1961); MSc Hons Auck (1963); PhD Ohio State University (1968)


Publications from 1963 - Now


Peter took part in several US and NZ Antarctic geological survey parties in the 1960’s and in 1970 returned to New Zealand to teach geology and run Victoria University’s Antarctic expeditions.  He sailed with the deep-sea drilling ship Glomar Challenger for 10 weeks in 1972-73 on its first voyage to core the Antarctic continental shelf. Since then he has led several further projects to drill the Antarctic margin for understanding of ice sheet behaviour since its inception around 34 million years ago. The results are providing a useful guide to its likely behaviour in the face of projected future global warming.

He has contributed to geological and environmental subcommittees of the Science Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), and also represented NZ at the Antarctic Treaty System’s Committee on Environmental Protection (1998-2003). In 2004 he was awarded the NZ Science Association’s Marsden Medal, a life-time achievement award, and took the opportunity to observe that “..if we continue our present growth path we face the end of civilization as we know it”. In 2006 he was awarded the SCAR President’s Medal for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in Antarctic Science. He stepped down as Director of the Antarctic Research Centre in 2007, and continues to promote work in past Antarctic climate. He also provides a deep-time perspective on climate change.

Peter Barrett and Antarctica

Research Interests

  • Antarctic geological history
  • History and future of the Antarctic ice sheet
  • Earth’s climate history over the last 100 million years

For more information on Peter's Research Interests, see Peter's CV