23 September 2014

150,000 Euros for research on melting ice caps in East Antarctica

Prestigious InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship Award goes to Utrecht University polar researcher Jan Lenaerts

Polar researcher Dr. Jan Lenaerts from Utrecht University was presented with the prestigious InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship worth € 150,000 in Brussels yesterday. He was awarded the grant for his proposal for studying the melting ice sheets in East Antarctica and its impact on the stability of the ice sheets and the global sea level. Lenaerts was also granted a Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Veni subsidy in July.

“East Antarctica holds the largest mass of ice on earth. As the planet warms up, the ice sheets that hold all of that ice could break up, causing large volumes of ice to enter the ocean, which would raise the sea level by tens of meters,” explains Lenaerts. “With the support of the InBev-Baillet Latour Fellowship, my field work will help explain which processes are responsible for breaking up the ice sheets, allowing us to better estimate how, when and where East Antarctica will become most vulnerable to global warming.”


Lenaerts, a researcher at Utrecht University’s Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IAMU), expects that his project will result in provide important insights into how the surface melt impacts the ice sheets. It will also provide information that can be used to improve climate models, which will help in estimating the total surface melt of the East Antarctic ice sheets, both today and in the future.

Field work

In order to conduct his field work as part of the BENEMELT project, Lenaerts will travel to the Belgian Princess Elisabeth research station in November 2014. There, he will conduct research on the nearby King Baudouin ice shelf for three weeks. More information about the BENEMELT project will be released over the next few months via the Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station website (www.antarcticstation.org).

InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship

Lenaerts received the InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship Award on Wednesday, 17 September, during the “Antarctica – The Next Generation”, conference and awards ceremony for the InBev-Baillet Latour Fellowship in the Academy Palace of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. The Fellowship Award is a collaborative effort between the International Polar Foundation and the InBev-Baillet Latour Fund. Its purpose is to promote science and scientific excellence by young researchers in Antarctica.

Unanimous decision of the jury

“The members of the Fellowship Committee were unanimous in their decision to grant the Fellowship Award to Jan Lenaerts and the BENEMELT project, because of the fascinating new elements it will provide for research into the interaction between ice caps and the climate,” according to Jury Chairperson Prof. Jörn Thiede. “It will build on work by previous researchers on the King Baudouin ice shelf, provide more data for models and will be a significant addition to the research activities at the Princess Elisabeth base.”

Jan Lenaerts

Jan Lenaerts earned his PhD. at Utrecht University last year for his research on the effect of snow drifts on the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland. For a list of press releases about important publications that he has contributed to, see the ‘publications’ link. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has recently awarded him a Veni subsidy.

More information

• For more information about the Fellowship Award: see the press kit for the InBev-Baillet Latour Antarctica Fellowship
• Other questions: Please contact Monica van der Garde, Press Spokesperson, Faculty of Science m.vandergarde@uu.nl, 06 13 66 14 38.