The ARC was established in 1972 as part of the Department of Geology at Victoria University. Its first director was Professor Peter Barrett. The Antarctic Research Centre (ARC) is part of the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Its mission is to research "Antarctic climate history and processes, and their influence on the global climate system." Its current director is Professor Tim Naish.
The mission of ARC is to better understand Antarctic climate history and processes, and their influence on the global climate system, especially in New Zealand and the southwest Pacific region. We believe this research opens up exciting opportunities and challenges for young scientists, as well as providing a sound basis for international debate and policy development on global change issues.
The ARC conducts annual research explorations, known as the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expeditions (VUWAE), into Antarctica. The first expedition, which explored the McMurdo Dry Valleys, was undertaken on December 30, 1957, by Peter Webb and Barrie McKinley, two third-year geology students. Since then, students and staff have made annual expeditions to conduct research in areas such as glacial history and climate change.
Researchers that have been involved in VUWAEs include Harold Wellman, who discovered the Alpine Fault. Expedition reports have been digitised by the NZETC. Research conducted at ARC focuses on climate change, including the analysis of ocean floor sediment cores and ice cores, and glacial modeling.Researchers from ARC have studied different factors that impact polar ice, including CO2 levelsand oscillations in the Earth's orbit.