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Welcome to SPRI

! Easter weekend: the museum will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Saturday and Sunday, but open on Easter Monday.

Welcome to the website of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). The Institute is a well-known and long-established centre for research into both polar regions. It is part of the University of Cambridge and is a sub-department of the Department of Geography.

We have several research groups investigating a range of issues in both the environmental sciences and social sciences of relevance to the Arctic and Antarctica. Our polar library, which includes the Shackleton Memorial Library, has comprehensive holdings of scholarly books and journals on polar research, with exceptional archival collections from the exploration of the Antarctic and Arctic. We also have extensive online resources, including bibliographic and other information.

Around 60 academic, library and support staff, together with postgraduate students, associates and fellows attached to our research programmes, are working in the Institute, providing a strong core of intellectual activity focused on the Arctic and Antarctic and their adjacent seas.

We offer two Graduate Degree courses; a one-year Master's Degree (M.Phil.) course in Polar Studies, and a three-year Doctoral Degree course, leading to a Ph.D. degree. Both courses are closely tied to the research activities of the Institute.

Julian Dowdeswell awarded the IASC Medal for 2014

Julian Dowdeswell awarded the IASC Medal for 2014

Julian Dowdeswell has been awarded the IASC Medal for 2014 by the International Arctic Science Committee 'as a World leader in the field of Arctic glaciology'. The committee also highlighted Prof. Dowdeswell's outreach and communication activities which have been instrumental for public understanding of Arctic change. The full citation for the award is on the IASC website.

Cambridge in Davos

Cambridge in Davos

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been at the World Economic Forum in Davos (22-25 January 2014), delivering an invited presentation on 'Glaciers, Ice Sheets and Environmental Change'. He is part of a Cambridge contingent that includes the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Martin Rees and Jon Hutton. They each spoke in a session on 'Cambridge Ideas' at the Forum. Julian has given interviews on the changing polar regions and their global implications in Davos and more information about Cambridge in Davos is available. A video of Julian's interview is available online.

PhD Opportunities in Glaciology

The Cambridge Doctoral Training Programme has various PhD opportunities in Glaciology - please see the prospective projects C14, C18, C19, C37, C38, C39 and C50 under the Climate Theme.

Lakes discovered beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet using radar

This study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reports the discovery using airborne radar of two subglacial lakes 800 metres below the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The two lakes are each roughly 8 to 10 square-kilometres in area, and at one point may have been up to three times larger than their current size.

Subglacial lakes are likely to influence the flow of the ice sheet which, in turn, impacts global sea-level change. The discovery of the lakes in Greenland will help researchers to understand how the ice will respond to changing environmental conditions.

The work was undertaken by Steve Palmer, Julian Dowdeswell, Poul Christoffersen and Toby Benham at the Institute, in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Texas and Bristol.

Glaciologists at SPRI to explore Antarctic source of sea level rise

Glaciologists at SPRI to explore Antarctic source of sea level rise

Researchers at ten British universities, the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre are teaming up in a mission that aims to discover what is causing the recent rapid loss of ice from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. The research project, which is funded by the National Environmental Research Council and known as iSTAR, is important for understanding sea-level rise, a global phenomenon which has major implications for coastal cities and environments around the world. The Cambridge University scientists contributing to the project are Dr Marion Bougamont, Dr Poul Christoffersen and Professor Liz Morris. All three are glaciologists at the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Harry King (1921-2013) SPRI image ref P83/8

Harry King (1921-2013)

A tribute to the Institute's Librarian, 1955-1983.

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The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research

The Geographical Unconscious: mapping the supernatural in current research

Recent decades have witnessed the release of a multitude of studies looking at imaginative and spiritual geographies, maps and monsters, and the psychical landscape of the supernatural. Taken together, this corpus has acted to problematise any reductionist "breaks" which theorise a "decline of magic" (Keith Thomas) or "disenchantment of the world" (Max Weber) in modernity. During this period human geography has undertaken "affectual" and "emotional" turns, while researchers in cultural and literary studies have been working with the "supernatural turn" of the "uncanny nineties". Maintaining a broad field of vision, the theme of this workshop is the geographical unconscious. This meeting brings together contributions ranging from early modern studies to the Arctic humanities to examine and compare the political and cultural agencies at work.

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Last letter of Captain Scott finally revealed in full - 101 years on

Last letter of Captain Scott finally revealed in full - 101 years on

A letter written by the dying Captain Scott - one of only two remaining in private hands - can be revealed in full for the first time after being acquired by the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Icy debate on BBC’s ‘The Forum’

Icy debate on BBC's 'The Forum'

Poul Christoffersen can be heard on the BBC World Service after his recent return from Antarctica, to debate "Ice" with fellow scientist Mary Albert and visual artist Camille Seaman. The debate is a journey into the wilderness of polar regions and the panelists explain how they are confronted by impacts from climate change.

Water under the ice

Water under the ice

Craig Stewart, PhD student and recipient of the Scott Centenary Scholarship, talks to The New Zealand Herald about floating ice shelves in a warming climate. The interview took place in a remote camp on the Ross Ice Shelf, and during the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's visit to Antarctica. Craig's PhD research at the Scott Polar Research Institute aims to understand how ocean currents affect the Ross Ice Shelf, a large (487,000 km2) floating part of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The journals of William Hooper: Inuit ethnographer and evangelical

The journals of William Hooper: Inuit ethnographer and evangelical

The Arctic humanities are a broad and developing field, encompassing subjects from the social impact of environmental change to the use of indigenous mapping techniques in western geographical knowledge. Taking a broad historical and circumpolar perspective, this seminar series explores the encounters and engagements between different actors, communities, and systems of knowledge in the Arctic. How do historical encounters and passages continue to shape issues of contemporary governance in the polar regions? This seminar series showcases the interdisciplinary strengths of the Scott Polar Research Institute while also engaging with the research of visiting and invited scholars.

Snow Lab

Snow Lab

Snow Lab is a scientific project to study snow, which needs lots of volunteers to help take measurements. It is being run by Dr Gareth Rees, who is based at the Scott Polar Research Institute. At present, Snow Lab is only looking for volunteers from schools in Cambridgeshire although in future we hope to run it for the whole of the UK. So if you are at a school in Cambridgeshire, and there's snow on the ground (or might be), and you think you might like to get involved, please have a look at the Snow Lab website.

Freeze Frame

Freeze Frame is a remarkable resource enabling you to explore over 20,000 photographs from 1845-1960, representing some of the most important visual resources for research into British and international polar exploration.

The Institute also hosts the Secretariats of the International Glaciological Society and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.