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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

Rapid melting of the world’s largest ice shelf linked to solar heat in the ocean

30th April, 2019

 

A study conducted at the Scott Polar Research Institute links melting of the world's largest ice shelf to solar heating of the ocean surface. The findings may have important implications for the stability of ice shelf.

In a study of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, which covers an area roughly the size of France, the team spent several years building up a record of how the north-west sector of this vast ice shelf interacts with the ocean beneath it. Their results, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, show that the ice is melting much more rapidly than previously thought due to inflowing warm water.

Glaciers and surface winds in a Himalayan valley

8th March, 2019

 

PhD student, Emily Potter, with supervisors Ian Willis (SPRI), Andrew Orr (BAS) and colleagues have published their latest research in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which has also been featured as an Editors' Highlight in EOS.

The work uses field measurements and a regional climate model to determine the patterns and causes of wind acceleration around the Khumbu Valley, Nepal, and how they change over diurnal cycles, and between the monsoon and dry seasons.

It confirms strong daytime up-valley winds and weak nighttime winds in both seasons, and shows that pressure gradient forces are the dominant cause of wind acceleration, but that turbulence and advection are important too. The forcing terms are highly variable across the valley, and also strongly influenced by the presence of glaciers. When glaciers are removed from the model in the monsoon run, the wind continues much further up the valley, showing how local valley winds might respond to future glacier shrinkage.

This work will help the development of regional climate models in the Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalaya, which are crucial for predicting future precipitation and glacier melt in the region.

Search for Endurance ends

14th February, 2019

 

Following a programme of pioneering Antarctic scientific research, and successfully reaching the Endurance wreck site, as plotted 104 years ago by Frank Worsley, the Weddell Sea Expedition team have sadly been forced to conclude the current search for the Endurance.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of SPRI and Expedition Chief Scientist, said: 'Through the scientific data gathered during the Expedition, we have deepened our knowledge and understanding of Antarctic oceanography and ecosystems, and our observations on the glaciology and geology will play a critical role in our understanding of Antarctic ice shelves and sea ice and, importantly, the changes that are occurring here today.'

Surface lakes cause Antarctic ice shelves to 'flex'

13th February, 2019

 

A team of British and American researchers, co-led by Alison Banwell and Ian Willis at the Scott Polar Research Institute, has measured how much the McMurdo ice shelf in Antarctica flexes in response to the filling and draining of meltwater lakes on its surface. This type of flexing had been hypothesised before and simulated by computer models, but this is the first time the phenomenon has been measured in the field. The results are reported in the journal Nature Communications.

Does the north pole still matter?

8th February, 2019

 

.Is the North Pole still important, when most of us will never visit it and know almost nothing about it? A new book by Dr Michael Bravo charts the history of the North Pole and finds a place that is both real and imaginary, with fascinating stories to tell.

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  • 4th August 2019:
    Hidden Tales with Mark Wells - talk and family activities. Details…
    Polar Museum public events
  • 16th August 2019:
    Japan and its Arctic identity: Forming a narrative about the region. Details…
    Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop