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Press release

Flood Warning? The Global Impact of the Melting Ice Sheets

The Annual Science Lecture, Tuesday 27 November, 19.30-21.00

Submerged streets, lost lives and thousands left homeless - from New Orleans to the recent flooding across England, the destructive power of water is all too clear. Are we witnessing the first effects of global warming? Will similar disasters become routine in future? Discover the facts at the Natural History Museum's Annual Science Lecture. Join guest speaker Professor David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey to find out what Antarctica's melting ice sheets could mean for flood defences around Britain.

'Antarctica is a crucial piece in the global warming jigsaw,' said Professor Vaughan. 'Understanding how its ice sheets respond to climate change is one of the biggest uncertainties in predicting sea-level rise. With around 17 million people living near the coast in the UK, this is something we cannot afford
to ignore. '

Recent studies suggest the world's ice sheets and glaciers hold enough water to make sea levels rise by 70 metres - and they seem to be melting faster than past scientific predictions have suggested. After a year of violent and unpredictable weather in the UK, our flood defences are looking vulnerable. What can we do to minimise the risk and can we afford to protect ourselves?

Professor David Vaughan is a world authority on glacial retreat and he is a leading researcher at the British Antarctic Survey. He was a co-ordinating lead author for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2004, which examined the potential impacts of climate change and options for adaptation and mitigation. Since joining the British Antarctic Survey in 1985 as a field glaciologist, Vaughan has led seven science campaigns to Antarctica. He has written more than 100 papers and articles about Antarctic ice sheets and climate change.  He is currently one of eight scientists heading up a programme of research into the impact of climate on the Antarctic ice sheet. He received the Polar Medal from the Queen in 2004 and is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Environment and Society at Swansea University.

Now in its thirteenth year, the Natural History Museum's Annual Science Lecture has established itself as one of the most important forums for stimulating scientific debate. Professor David Vaughan follows previous eminent speakers such as Lord Winston, Professor John Maynard Smith, Professor Richard Dawkins, Sir David Attenborough, Bill McGuire and the Museum's senior scientists Professor Chris Stringer and Andy Currant.

Date and time: Tuesday 27 November 2007, 19.30
Location: Central Hall
Admission: £12, concessions and Members £9, students £6
Booking: 020 7942 5555 from 8 October
Nearest tube: South Kensington

Notes for editors

  • Winner of the 2006 Independent award for the UK's favourite museum, gallery or heritage attraction at the Museum and Heritage Awards for Excellence, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with  groundbreaking projects in 68 countries.
  • International Polar Year 2007/2008 is the largest co-ordinated international scientific effort for 50 years. Ice Station Antarctica, a family exhibition at the Natural History Museum, was developed in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey and is one of the highlights of the UK's involvement in International Polar Year.
  • British Antarctic Survey is a world leader in research into global issues in an Antarctic context. It is the UK's national Antarctic operator and is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. It has an annual budget of around £40 million, runs nine research programmes and operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica. More information about the work of the survey is at

If you would like to interview Prof. David Vaughan, request images or further event information, please contact:
Tel: 020 7942 5654 or email us.