The Scott Polar Research Institute, established in 1920 as part of the University of Cambridge, is a centre of excellence in the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. Research covers both the natural and social sciences and is often interdisciplinary. The Institute also houses the World's premier Polar Library, extensive archival, photographic and object collections of international importance on the history of polar exploration, and a Polar Museum with displays of both the history and contemporary significance of the Arctic and Antarctic and their surrounding seas. The Institute is a sub-department of the Department of Geography.
SPRI's mission is to enhance the understanding of the polar regions through scholarly research and publication, educating new generations of polar researchers, caring for and making accessible its collections (including its library, archival, photographic and object collections), and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community for public benefit.
The Library offers a collection developed since the 1920s with over 700 current journals and over 250,000 printed works covering all subjects relating to the Arctic, the Antarctic, and to ice and snow wherever found.
Staff and students
SPRI's staff publish regularly in a range of leading journals, and attract research funding from a wide variety of sources.
The Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms presents a comprehensive series of contributions by leading researchers from many countries that describe, discuss and illustrate landforms on the high latitude, glacier-influenced seafloor. Included are submarine glacial landforms from modern, Quaternary and ancient glacimarine environments.
Matthew Gandy and Michael Bravo are holding a half-day workshop on the theme of "Geography and neo-vitalism" on Wednesday 23rd November. The neo-vitalist turn in geography raises many interesting questions across the discipline including connections with the geo-humanities and new fields of interdisciplinary scholarship. In recent years the works of Henri Bergson, Hans Driesch, and other thinkers have gained influence in debates over non-human agency, post-human subjectivities, and new concepts of nature. In this workshop we wish to bring together staff and graduate students with an interest in contemporary theoretical
debates for this half-day event.
We are deeply saddened by the news that Dr Gordon Hamilton died while working in the field in Antarctica earlier this month. Gordon was a PhD student at SPRI in the 1990s working with Julian Dowdeswell, now our Director, on surging Svalbard glaciers. Our thoughts are with all those close to Gordon. More information is available on the University of Maine website where Gordon was a professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences.
SPRI Review 2015, is now available online. SPRI Review is the Annual Report issued by SPRI, giving information on the Institute's activities over the past year.
In August 2016 "Visions of the Great White South", an exhibition to be held at Bonhams will reunite the iconic photography of Herbert Ponting with the evocative watercolours of Edward Wilson over a century after the two men first dreamt up their plan for a joint exhibition. The British Antarctic Expedition, better known by the name of its ship the Terra Nova, took place from 1910-1913. Captain Robert Falcon Scott appointed Dr Edward Wilson, a close friend and a fine watercolourist, as his chief scientist. He also invited camera artist Herbert Ponting to join the expedition as official photographer, in a bold move in an era when high quality photography required great skill and careful attention in ordinary circumstances, let alone in the extreme environment of the Antarctic. Both Wilson and Ponting captured expedition life as well as keeping a visual record of scientific phenomena that the crew were studying.
Alongside the historic artworks, visitors will have the opportunity to see contemporary interpretations of the 'great white south'. For several years the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute, with the support of Bonhams and the Royal Navy, have run an artist in residence scheme which sends an artist to the Antarctic on board the icebreaker HMS Protector. Artists including Captain Scott's grand-daughter Daphila Scott and renowned wildlife artist Darren Rees will exhibit their responses to the frozen wilds of Antarctica.