skip to primary navigation skip to content

Welcome to SPRI

The Scott Polar Research Institute, established in 1920 as part of the University of Cambridge, is a centre of excellence in the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. Research covers both the natural and social sciences and is often interdisciplinary. The Institute also houses the World's premier Polar Library, extensive archival, photographic and object collections of international importance on the history of polar exploration, and a Polar Museum with displays of both the history and contemporary significance of the Arctic and Antarctic and their surrounding seas. The Institute is a sub-department of the Department of Geography.

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 (including its library, archival, photographic and object collections), and projecting the history and environmental significance of the polar regions to the wider community for public benefit.


Research at SPRI

SPRI's staff and students investigate a range of issues in the environmental sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities of relevance to the Arctic and Antarctica:

Read more

Graduate study

SPRI has a friendly community of postgraduate students. Many are working for the PhD degree, awarded on the basis of individual research and requiring three years of full-time study. Others are working for the MPhil in Polar Studies.

Read more

The Polar Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute holds a unique collection of artefacts, journals, paintings, photographs, clothing equipment, maps and other materials illustrating polar exploration, history and science. Come and find out how past discoveries in the Arctic and Antarctic help today's scientists to investigate our changing environment.

Read more

Features

Library

The Library offers a collection developed since the 1920s 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


Staff and students

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

Read more


Scientific expedition to the Larsen C Ice Shelf

11th April, 2018

 

A planned scientific expedition to the Antarctic to visit and study the Larsen C Ice Shelf - and explore the area where Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship was last seen - will be led by Professor Julian Dowdeswell next year.

Professor Dowdeswell, Director of the Institute and Professor of Physical Geography, will lead the international Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 next spring. It will bring together leading researchers from the Institute as well as the Nekton Foundation, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the University of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Professor Dowdeswell explained that the expedition will survey the underside of the iceshelf using underwater submersibles, to ascertain whether conditions leading to the calving of an enormous iceberg from Larsen C in 2017 means that the shelf may collapse: "Iceshelves butress the interior of the Antarctic icesheet, they effectively act to hold back the ice that flows from the interior of the Antarctic to the edge. They are in some senses vulnerable because not only can they lose mass by the production of icebergs at their edge but also because they're floating, beneath they have ocean water flowing in and that ocean water can lead to meltrates at the base of a number of metres per year and this is what's been happening to some areas of Antarctica."

Further coverage also features on BBC News, Telegraph and Independent websites.

Subglacial lakes discovered under Devon Island ice cap

18th April, 2018

 

A new study of the Devon Island ice cap, led by a team from the University of Alberta, has discovered two subglacial bodies of water. These are the first subglacial lakes to be observed in the Canadian Arctic, and are estimated to cover areas of five and eight square kilometres respectively.

The findings, co-authored by Director of The Scott Polar Research Institute Professor Julian Dowdeswell, have been published in Science Advances

Department of Geography at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU)

9th April, 2018

 

Several staff, postdocs, PhD students and research associates within the Department of Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute will be showcasing their research at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 8-13 April 2018, the largest geosciences meeting in Europe.

Details of the presentations and our research groups are available.

Inuit Visions of the Polar World

5th April, 2018

 

Dr Michael Bravo will be running an interactive talk, Inuit Visions of the Polar World, at the Heong Gallery, Downing College.

The talk will take place at 6pm, on Thursday 10 May 2018. Please register if you would like to attend.

ERC Arctic Cultures Post-docs

22nd March, 2018

 

Dr. Richard Powell is recruiting FOUR three-year Postdoctoral Research Associates (PDRAs) to work on the ERC Consolidator Grant project, ARCTIC CULT (Arctic Cultures: Sites of Collection in the Formation of the European and American Northlands) to start in October 2018. Further details are available online. The closing date is 30th April 2018.

View all news