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Latest news from SPRI

Spectacular ice age landscapes beneath the North Sea discovered using 3D seismic reflection technology

9th September, 2021

PhD student James Kirkham has led a study, along with Neil Arnold and Julian Dowdeswell from SPRI, which used cutting edge 3D seismic reflection technology to discover spectacular ice age landscapes beneath the North Sea.

So called tunnel valleys, buried hundreds of metres beneath the seafloor in the North Sea are remnants of huge rivers that were the 'plumbing system' of the ancient ice sheets as they melted in response to rising air temperatures.

These ancient structures provide clues to how ice sheets react to a warming climate. The findings are published this week (9 September) in the journal Geology.

More information can be found on the British Antarctic Survey website, along with BBC News.

New study investigates nineteenth-century science transfer and expertise in Arctic exploration

5th August, 2021

In a new research paper published in the British Journal for the History of Science, Dr Nanna Kaalund and Dr John Woitkowitz of the ERC Arctic Cultures research group, based at the Scott Polar Research Institute, investigate the history of nineteenth-century scientific networks and expertise in the organization of expeditions to the central Arctic Ocean.

Piers Vitebsky awarded IASSA Honorary Lifetime Membership

22nd July, 2021

During the ICASS X meetings in June 2021, Dr. Piers Vitebsky was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership by the International Arctic Social Sciences Association (IASSA).

This very prestigious award is some small marker of the esteem with which Piers is held by the Arctic social sciences and humanities community. The presentation to Piers was made virtually, and a number of SPRI colleagues joined an international audience to reflect on Piers's career and celebrate his achievements.

Mapping glacier surface debris thickness across high mountain Asia

16th July, 2021

PhD student Karla Boxall and supervisor Ian Willis have mapped the thickness of debris cover on all glaciers in High Mountain Asia. With colleagues from the US and China, they developed a robust statistical relationship between surface temperature and the few existing field measurements of debris thickness. Using regional scale thermal imagery, they applied that relationship to map debris thickness across all 134,770 glaciers in the region. Their map of debris thickness is as accurate and more precise than one already in the literature.

They also determine the controls on the distribution of debris thickness across glaciers showing that thicker debris typically occurs on flatter, west-facing slopes at lower elevations, where ice flow is slower.

Debris thickness contributes to the rate at which glaciers melt, so these findings have important implications for modelling the future behaviour of glaciers in this region.

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