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Latest news from SPRI

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:

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.

SPRI building closure update

27th August, 2020

The Scott Polar Research Institute is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, but is now open to staff on a limited basis for essential research and teaching activity.

Our Polar Museum and library remain closed to the public. We look forward to welcoming you back to our public spaces; however, our first priority continues to be the safety of staff and visitors. We will only reopen to the public when all necessary safety measures are in place.

Please follow our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and this website, for further updates and news on our reopening.

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