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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

University of Cambridge buildings closure

18th March, 2020

 

In light of recent government announcements, and of recent developments including a growing number of staff members now working from home, the University of Cambridge has now moved into its "red" phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the Scott Polar Research Institute closed its doors on Friday 20th March, for the foreseeable future. Find out what this means in a statement from University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope.

Please check our social media platforms and this website for further updates and news on our re-opening.

New study reveals Antarctic ice shelf retreat

29th May, 2020

 

A new study led by researchers from Scott Polar Research Institute, with colleagues from Loughborough University and the Geological Survey of Norway, calculates that ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic coast retreated at speeds of up to 50m per day at the end of the last Ice Age - a rate roughly 10 times faster than observed by satellites today.

Using drones, satellites and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles during the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019, our researchers were able to study ice conditions in the Weddell Sea in unprecedented detail. "By examining landforms on the seafloor, we were able to make determinations about how the ice behaved in the past," said Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute Professor Julian Dowdeswell, who was chief scientist on the expedition. "We knew these features were there, but we've never been able to examine them in such great detail before."

Communication at a distance

12th May, 2020

 

SPRI PhD Candidate, Premdeep Gill, recently joined the Royal Greenwich Museum as a special guest on their online show, speaking to BBC presenter Helen Czerski on the theme of communication at a distance throughout history.

Prem discussed his use of satellites to track seals and how he uses "seal grime" to connect with a wider audience, and encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to consider polar science and conservation.

The episode is available to watch online and featured on BBC online as part of their "culture in quarantine" programming.

New paper on subarctic treelines

12th May, 2020

 

A new paper, whose co-authors include Dr Gareth Rees, Dr Olga Tutubalina & Zuzana Swirad of the Scott Polar Research Institute, is now available as open access.

The paper, 'Is subarctic forest advance able to keep pace with climate change?' demonstrates that the still widespread assumption that treelines are moving northwards into the arctic tundra at a rate determined by climate change is wrong. The authors discuss that they are moving much more slowly than thought, and climate-change models must consequently be adapted accordingly.

SPRI Review 2019

1st May, 2020

 

SPRI Review 2019 is now available online. SPRI Review is the Annual Report issued by the Scott Polar Research Institute, giving information on the Institute's activities over the past year.

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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.

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