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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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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

Women of Snow and Ice

4th January, 2022


SPRI PhD student Morgan Seag, SPRI researcher Dr Becky Dell and SPRI Institute Associate Dr Ali Banwell are among interviewees in a special ice-themed edition of BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour.

Listen (from around 28:00) as women researchers in Antarctica are interviewed for the programme; find out how women broke through the ice ceiling to create opportunities and become leaders in their fields, and hear from researchers in the field working on the George VI ice sheet.

SPRI research in the New York Times

17th December, 2021


As part of his doctoral research at SPRI, Dr Praveen Teleti investigated the historical variability of Antarctic sea ice, making use of whaling logbooks cared for by our archive. The logbooks contained invaluable climate measurements, including air and water temperatures, barometric pressure, wind strength, from the 1930s and 1950s.

You can read more about Dr Teleti's work in a new article in the New York Times, or for a more detailed account see "A historical Southern Ocean climate dataset from whaling ships' logbooks" in the Geoscience Data Journal (open access).

The Anthropocene defined as an event, not an epoch

15th November, 2021


Professor Phil Gibbard writes: What is the Anthropocene? When did it start? Ask ten experts and you're likely to get ten different answers. The solution is to define the Anthropocene as a geological event: the aggregated effects of human activities that are transforming the Earth system and altering biodiversity, producing a substantial record in sedimentary strata and in human-modified ground.

This definition, published in the Geoscience journal Episodes, is applicable across academic fields and explicitly recognises that the Anthropocene interval varies in time and space.

Stability of Antarctic Ice Shelves

5th November, 2021


Scott Polar Research Institute's Ian Willis and Becky Dell are on their way to Antarctica to retrieve data from instruments that were set up two years ago. They are currently quarantining in the Falkland Islands with their colleague Laura Stevens (University of Oxford) waiting for runway conditions at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera base to improve, before making their onward journey.

Working with colleagues Alison Banwell (University of Colorado Boulder) and Doug MacAyeal (University of Chicago) the team will use the data to examine in detail how much melting occurs across the ice shelf each summer, how much of that water ponds up in lakes, and how that melting and ponding causes the floating ice shelf to bend and possibly crack. The team's findings should improve our understanding of how ice shelves fracture and break up. This may be more likely in the future as melting around Antarctica's periphery increases, ultimately due to global warming.

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SPRI library forges new links with Arctic Russia

7th October, 2021


Eleanor Peers in partnership with Anastasiia Shnaider has arranged an exchange of resources between the SPRI library and the National Library of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YaNAO) in Arctic Russia. Thanks to this exchange SPRI will acquire books from YaNAO that are unavailable anywhere else in the UK, if not Europe. Our readers will be able to learn about the diverse histories and cultures of YaNAO, an important industrial region, and the homeland of several Indigenous communities such as the Nenets, Khanty and Komi peoples. In return, the National Library will receive access to the Polar Record.

Through the project we are making new links with YaNAO's Academic Centre for the Study of the Arctic, who will be sending us their work through this exchange. The Academic Centre carries out crucial multidisciplinary research into YaNAO and the Russian Arctic. We hope these additions to our collection will stimulate new collaborations between YaNAO and the UK.

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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.

  • 25th January 2022:
    The changing world of reindeer: People, climate and forests in Northern Fenno-Scandia. Details…
    Scott Polar Research Institute - HCEP (Histories, Cultures, Environments and Politics) Research Seminars
  • 27th January 2022:
    Indigenous sovereignty and environmental protection in the Arctic. Details…
    Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop
  • 8th February 2022:
    Singing the Universe: Kant’s aesthetic and indigenous Siberian pop. Details…
    Scott Polar Research Institute - HCEP (Histories, Cultures, Environments and Politics) Research Seminars
  • More seminars…