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Emeritus Professor

Photo of Professor Pat Langhorne.

Lab 412
Room 519
Phone numbers
7677 (Office)
64 3 479 7677 (Office Direct Dial)
5475 (Lab)
Research Group

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I have been fascinated by the polar regions since my teenage years. After undergraduate physics at the University of Aberdeen (in Scotland) I completed a PhD on sea ice at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, England. In 1985 I was invited to take part in an Antarctic experiment which brought me to New Zealand for the first time, and since 1988 I have been teaching physics and researching sea ice physical processes at the University of Otago. Working with post-graduate students and with national and international collaborators, I have taken part in about twenty research visits to Antarctica .

Ice-ocean interaction

The coastal sea ice of Antarctica is significantly influenced by proximity to an ice shelf. Due to melting in the ice shelf basal cavity, very cold water emerges from at its edge. Ice crystals can appear in the water column, attach themselves to the ice-water interface, and grow in the extremely cold water there. This ice preserves a record of the oceanographic conditions at the time of its formation during the Antarctic winter. The challenge of interpreting this ocean signature, and understanding its relation to the properties of the sea ice cover, is an interest of our group. We use our understanding to create models of the crystallography and physical properties that result from this process.

Recently, airborne sea ice thickness measurement and satellite remote sensing have greatly expanded the area over which we can understand these processes.

Find out more about my research


Langhorne, P. J., Haas, C., Price, D., Rack, W., Leonard, G. H., Brett, G. M., & Urbini, S. (2023). Fast ice thickness distribution in the Western Ross Sea in late spring. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1029/2022JC019459

Fraser, A. D., Wongpan, P., Langhorne, P. J., Klekociuk, A. R., Kusahara, K., Lannuzel, D., … Leonard, G. H., Mahoney, A. R., … Wienecke, B. (2023). Antarctic landfast sea ice: A review of its physics, biogeochemistry and ecology. Reviews of Geophysics, 61, e2022RG000770. doi: 10.1029/2022RG000770

Richter, M. E., Smith, I. J., Everts, J. R., Russell, P., Langhorne, P. J., & Leonard, G. H. (2023). The effect of pseudofrazil particle entrainment on salinity measurements. Earth & Space Science, 10, e2022EA002564. doi: 10.1029/2022EA002564

Richter, M. E., Leonard, G. H., Smith, I. J., Langhorne, P. J., Mahoney, A. R., & Parry, M. (2022). Accuracy and precision when deriving sea-ice thickness from thermistor strings: A comparison of methods. Journal of Glaciology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/jog.2022.108

Wongpan, P., Vancoppenolle, M., Langhorne, P. J., Smith, I. J., Madec, G., Gough, A. J., … Haskell, T. G. (2021). Sub‐ice platelet layer physics: Insights from a mushy‐layer sea ice model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126(6), e2019JC015918. doi: 10.1029/2019JC015918

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