ANU scientists working in Oceans and Climate Change work on understanding changes in ocean circulation, sea level, heat transport and the ocean carbon cycle. The ocean is the largest part of the climate system, and controls climate variability and change on long timescales. Studies include past changes (including the recent past where direct observations are available, as well as paleoclimate studies which rely on proxy measures of ocean conditions) and improving our understanding of ways to predict future changes in climate.
Apart from the thermal expansion of the world's oceans, there is also the potential for changes in ice sheet dynamics to alter sea level. Scientists at the ANU are investigating changes in land ice using remote sensing technology. For example, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite program, spearheaded by the ANU Centre for Gravitational Physics and the Research School of Earth Sciences can measure subtle change in gravitational fields and is used to estimate the net mass gain or loss of the large polar ice caps, a critical issue in climate change research.