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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

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

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 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

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

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

Course changes 2020-21

31st July, 2020

 

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and government guidance, we have had to make some changes to some elements of our teaching programmes for 2020-21 in order to mitigate against risks to health and to give students the best possible academic experience in the circumstances. We will continue to monitor and respond to the changing public health situation.

Please follow these links for further information regarding our MPhil:

Arctic Ocean sediments reveal permafrost thawing during past climate warming

16th October, 2020

 

A new paper co-authored by Francesco Muschitiello has used seafloor sediments of the Arctic Ocean to understand how permafrost responds to climate warming and found evidence of past permafrost thawing during climate warming events at the end of the last ice age.

The study also shows for the first time that permafrost thawing occurred concomitantly with the release of large quantities of atmospheric CO2 as recorded in Antarctic ice cores. The findings suggest that Arctic warming by only a few degrees Celsius may be sufficient to disturb large areas covered by permafrost and potentially affect the Earth's climate system.

Dr Simon Ommanney

29th September, 2020

 

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Dr Simon Ommanney, who spent a number of years at the Scott Polar Research Institute as the Secretary General of the International Glaciological Society.

Dr Ommanney was committed to the science of glaciology, devoting his academic life and career in England and Canada, and continuing to advance the discipline during his retirement.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Deep channels link ocean to vulnerable West Antarctic glacier

14th September, 2020

 

Newly-discovered deep seabed channels beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica may be the pathway for warm ocean water to melt the underside of the ice.

Researchers from UK and US International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, including James Kirkham from SPRI, collected data from offshore of the glacier during January-March 2019 aboard the icebreaker the RV Nathaniel B Palmer.

Exceptional sea-ice break up in early 2019 enabled the team to survey over 2000 square kilometres of sea floor right in front of the glacier — an area which had previously been hidden beneath part of the floating ice shelf extending from Thwaites Glacier.

The team's findings reveal that the sea floor contains deep channels leading under the ice shelf towards the grounding line which may provide pathways along which warm water can reach the underside of Thwaites Glacier, causing it to melt and contribute to global sea-level rise.

Past subglacial water flow beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet

12th September, 2020

 

A new paper by James Kirkham, Julian Dowdeswell and others has used two decades of multibeam bathymetric data to explore the meltwater drainage imprint left by the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the past.

High-resolution maps of seabed areas previously covered by ice reveal over 2700 channels carved by subglacial rivers of meltwater flowing beneath the ice sheet.

The seafloor channels are extremely large (up to 3 km wide and over 200 m deep) and inform us about processes that are difficult to observe beneath the modern day ice sheet, and which occur over timescales much longer than covered by existing glaciological observations. The authors conclude that the channels were most likely incised by the periodic drainage of subglacial lakes over multiple glacial cycles.

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SPRI Centenary

SPRI Centenary


Our 2020 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.

  • 29th October 2020:
    What’s in a model? Shifting multi-species relationships in Sakha (Yakutia). Details…
    Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop
  • 3rd November 2020:
    Author Meets Critics: North Pole: Nature and Culture. Details…
    Scott Polar Research Institute - HCEP (Histories, Cultures, Environments and Politics) Research Seminars
  • 12th November 2020:
    The Accidental PI: JUSTNORTH. Details…
    Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop
  • More seminars…