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Archive of previous Occasional lectures

Archive of previous Occasional lectures

The following is an archive of previous special lectures held at the Institute, listed most recent first.

An archive of previous Friends' Lectures held is also available.

Dr Ian Willis speaks at the Cambridge Alumni Festival 2013

Dr Ian Willis speaks at the Cambridge Alumni Festival 2013

Dr Ian Willis gave a talk entitled "Climate Change and the Greenland Ice Sheet" at this year's Cambridge University Alumni Festival.

It drew upon the latest research in this region of the Arctic, including his own work investigating the effects of ice sheet melting, surface lake filling and draining, and glacier acceleration. It took place in the Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue on Saturday 28th September, 1:30 – 2:30.

Further details about this and other events can be found at the Alumni Festival website.

Public lecture: Klaus Dodds, Royalty and Loyalty: Queen Elizabeth Land and British Antarctic Territory

Tuesday 2nd July 2013, 6pm - SPRI Lecture Theatre

In association with the SCAR History Expert Group and the SCAR Social Sciences Action GroupSCAR SSAG logo

Professor Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway, University of London) researches in the areas of geopolitics, media/popular culture and the international governance of the Antarctic and the Arctic.

This talk takes as its starting point the decision by the UK government to name a part of the Antarctic Queen Elizabeth Land (2012) and the role of Ngai Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon and Prime Minister John Key in jointly uncovering the totara carving in a formal ceremony at Scott Base in the Ross Dependency (2013). In their different ways, both moments remind us that, in Patricia Seed's terms, there is no shortage of evidence of 'ceremonies of possession' when it comes to the geopolitically contested Antarctic continent. While the British case was arguably a response to continued Argentine contestation (as much as it was recognising Queen Elizabeth's II Diamond Jubilee), the New Zealand example was empowered by an attempt to consolidate genealogical and geographical connections between the metropolitan centre and the periphery, and between the colonial and post-colonial state.

These two examples serve as an entree into an interest in how claimant states such as the UK and New Zealand continue to build and reproduce an attachment to polar territory. I pose a series of questions as part of my interest in this attachment process. How do ceremonies involving naming and transplanting material objects contribute a normative force necessary to promote both attachment but also generative of warning to others who might covet such territory? How does a territorial claimant maintain an attachment to a particular part of Antarctic territory? Do such ceremonies of possession carry with them a risk of failure? And is there a large problem lurking here involving a treaty-based regime capacities to mange and regulate claimant and non-claimant behaviour in a context of growing anxieties regarding resource exploitation, climate change and icy instabilities, and polar nationalisms.

All welcome; no booking required.

Paul Rose: The Logistics of Polar Exploration

26 October 2010 17:30–19:30

Paul Rose

When you're facing some of the harshest conditions on Earth, planning ahead can be a matter of life and death. BBC presenter and experienced polar explorer, Paul Rose, will share some of his own experience and explain how planning and logistics save lives in the Polar Regions.

Paul Rose is a very experienced and popular public speaker, science support and field logistics expert, polar guide, professional diver and instructor.

He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen's Polar Medal.

Numbers limited to 100. Doors open at 5pm. Venue: Lecture Theatre, SPRI, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1ER

To book a place at this free lecture, please call the Institute on 01223 336540 or email

Unknown waters: a firsthand account of the historic under-ice survey of the Siberian continental shelf

Captain Alfred McLaren, USN (Ret.)
Wednesday 7th May 2008

During the summer of 1970, at the height of the Cold War, the nuclear attack submarine USS Queenfish (SSN-651), under the command of Commander Alfred S. McLaren USN, retraced and continuously recorded ice thickness data along USS Nautilus's 1958 transpolar track for global warming research purposes, surfaced at the North Pole, and completed the first hydrographic survey ever undertaken across the entire continental shelf off the Soviet Union's Siberian coastline – a distance of some 3,100 nautical miles. The survey began at the northwestern corner of the Laptev Sea, off the northernmost island of the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago; proceeded through the largely uncharted ice-covered shallow waters of the Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi seas, and ended just north of the Bering Strait. The expedition was recognized by the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations with a Navy Unit Commendation to both submarine and crew and the Legion of Merit to her captain.

McLaren book jacket

Captain McLaren will describe the extremely interesting and hazardous expedition accomplished in sea-ice-covered shallow waters by Queenfish's crew that took almost two months to complete. The depth soundings obtained throughout the Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas are just now appearing on Arctic Ocean charts published by the Office of Naval Research. He will also discuss the global climate change related findings that laid the foundation for significant follow-on global climate change research.

Captain McLaren's book on Queenfish's historic voyage is published by the University of Alabama Press in 2008.

The lecture will be followed by a book signing and light refreshments will be provided.

All welcome.

Looking North: collaborative film making with Alaskan native communities - with excerpts from UAF film collection

Leonard Kamerling, curator of the Alaska Center for Documentary Film at the Museum of the North, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Wednesday 15th March 2006 at 1pm, SPRI Lecture Theatre

Leonard Kamerling is the founder and curator of the Alaska Center for Documentary Film at the Museum of the North, University of Alaska, and has produced films with northern communities for over twenty years. He is the producer/director of many critically acclaimed, international award winning documentary films including On the Spring Ice (1976) and Uksuum Cauyai: The Drums of Winter (1989). In 1982, Leonard Kamerling spent one year in Japan as a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Arts Fellow, resulting in a collaborative documentary film Heart of the Country (1997) following the principal of a rural elementary school in central Hokkaido.

Travelling Passions: the Life and Legacy of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the Arctic Explorer

Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Guest speaker: Gísli Pálsson, Professor of Anthropology, University of Iceland

The 2005 Stefansson Memorial Lecture

1st November 2005, 5:30 for 6:00 pm

For further details, please telephone 01223 336540.

In the footsteps of Shackleton

Richard Reaney

Thursday 21st July 2005 - 1.00pm in the SPRI lecture theatre

Richard Reaney from the New Zealand Antarctic Society will give his slide presentation on retracing Shackleton's Endurance Expedition in which he crossed the Mountains of South Georgia both in 1998 and again in 2000.