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Welcome to SPRI

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, and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community.


Research at SPRI

Research at SPRI

We investigate a range of issues in the environmental sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities of relevance to the Arctic and Antarctica.

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Graduate study

Graduate study

SPRI has a friendly community of postgraduate students, working for the PhD degree or the MPhil in Polar Studies.

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The Polar Museum

The Polar Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a unique collection illustrating polar exploration, history and science. Find out how past discoveries in the Arctic and Antarctic help today's scientists to investigate our changing environment.

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Staff and students

Staff and students

SPRI's staff publish regularly in a range of leading journals, and attract research funding from a wide variety of sources.

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Library

Library

The Library offers a collection 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.

Library catalogue

A new graphic novel brings story of Scott’s expedition to the South Pole to life

28th October, 2022

 

To celebrate the centennial year of the publication of The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, an account of Scott's infamous expedition to the South Pole, SPRI Institute Associate and former Disney animator Sarah Airriess has transformed Cherry's tome into a soon-to-be published graphic novel. Retelling the story through cinematic visuals, the novel keeps as true as possible to the original account while bringing out the emotional core of Cherry's tale, and open up a classic book to new audiences.

The first volume of The Worst Journey in the World: The Graphic Novel, will be published by independent publisher, Indie Novella, and will be available to buy online and via selected distributors from 24th November 2022. The book is made in collaboration with the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, using our archives to inform the narrative, and the collection of the Polar Museum to inform the drawings.

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Professor Julian Dowdeswell reappointed as a Royal Museums Greenwich Trustee

27th October, 2022

 

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been reappointed as a Royal Museums Greenwich Trustee, for a four-year term commencing 3 September 2022 until 2 September 2026.

Julian has been Professor of Physical Geography in Cambridge University since 2002. He has just retired from almost 20 years as Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute. He is a glaciologist, studying the form and flow of glaciers and ice caps and their response to climate change, and the links between former ice sheets and the marine geological record. Julian has worked, on the ice and from aircraft, in Antarctica and many parts of the Arctic. He has also undertaken many periods of work on icebreaking research vessels in the Southern Ocean and the Arctic.

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Seasonal change in Antarctic Ice Sheet movement observed for first time

6th October, 2022

 

SPRI researchers, led by Karla Boxall, have identified distinct, seasonal movements in the flow of land ice draining into George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the first time that such seasonal cycles have been detected on land ice flowing into ice shelves in Antarctica.

Using imagery from the Copernicus/European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellites, the researchers found that the glaciers feeding the ice shelf speed up by approximately 15% during the Antarctic summer. The results are reported in the journal The Cryosphere.

The research has been published as an article in the journal The Cryosphere and was supported in part by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the European Space Agency through the Antarctic Ice Sheet Climate Change Initiative Programme.

Ice age valleys give clues to future ice sheet change

6th October, 2022

 

Deep valleys buried under the seafloor of the North Sea record how the ancient ice sheets that used to cover the UK and Europe expelled water to stop themselves from collapsing.

A new study by James Kirkham (Lead Author) and others published this week discovered that the valleys took just hundreds of years to form as they transported vast amounts of meltwater away from under the ice and out into the sea.

This new understanding of when the vast ice sheets melted 20,000 years ago has implications for how glaciers may respond to climate warming today.

New evidence for possible liquid water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars

29th September, 2022

 

An international team of researchers, led by Neil Arnold at SPRI, has revealed new evidence for the possible existence of liquid water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars.

The team, including researchers from the University of Sheffield, the University of Nantes, University College, Dublin, and the Open University used spacecraft laser-altimeter measurements of the shape of the upper surface of the ice cap to identify subtle patterns in its height.

Their results agree with earlier ice-penetrating radar measurements that were originally interpreted to show a potential area of liquid water beneath the ice. There has been debate over the liquid water interpretation from the radar data alone, with some studies suggesting the radar signal is not due to liquid water.

The results, reported in the journal Nature Astronomy, provide the first independent line of evidence, using data other than radar, that there is liquid water beneath Mars' south polar ice cap.

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SPRI Centenary

SPRI Centenary

Our Centenary Campaign aims to build the endowment funds of the Institute to support new academic posts, to enhance our ability to undertake polar fieldwork, to secure the future of our Museum and Archive activities, and to train the next generation of polar researchers.

There are no seminars scheduled at present, but you can view the archive of previous seminars.