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Polar Bytes 67 - April 2013

Polar Bytes 67 - April 2013

From the Chairman, Nick Lambert

Dear Friends,

Well, if you thought 2012 was busy, sit tight because 2013 is shaping up to be just as interesting and fulfilling with a wide variety of opportunities and events for the Friends. I would particularly like to draw your attention to the imminent visit to BAS on 20 April and I look forward to seeing many of you there. Please see the enclosed flyer for details. This year's Summer Gathering will be an all-day event held in Portsmouth on 13 July at the Historic Dockyard and the Museum of the Royal Navy. We are also hoping that the Friends will want to pay their respects at a commemoration at the statue of Scott in the dockyard, thereby closing the Scott Centenary for the Friends of SPRI.

That evening there will be (wait for it! Prolonged rolling of drums ...) a black tie dinner on board HMS VICTORY. This opportunity to dine on board Nelson's flagship has been generously granted by the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel, CBE and is a not-to-be missed event. Preceded by a reception on the upper deck, dinner will be served on the main gun deck amongst the guns. There will be sea shanties and guided tours, so please do sign up via the enclosed flyer.

Meanwhile, at sea deep in the South Atlantic, Emma Stibbon, our artist in residence, has been hard at work on board HMS PROTECTOR. Generously sponsored by Bonhams we much looking forward to seeing the results of her sojourn later in the year. It was a shame that Robert Brooks, Chairman of Bonhams, was unable to visit PROTECTOR in the Falkland Islands in March as planned. However we are delighted that he is showing such great interest in SPRI and FoSPRI and that the Artist in Residence sponsorship will continue for three years.

The Shackleton Centenary Voyage 'In the Footsteps of Shackleton' in November 2014 promises to be an exceptional undertaking. Angie Butler of Ice Tracks, who is one of our new Committee members, has been furiously at work crafting an exciting programme which will (weather permitting) enable Friends to see many of the sites frequented by Shackleton in the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falklands. Amongst many other stimulating events we hope to hold a service in the chapel at Grytviken, transit through King Haakon Bay and (possibly) land on Elephant Island. Angie has secured very special rates for the package and our ambition is to fill all the berths on board the expedition with Friends and their guests. So see the enclosed Ice Tracks newsletter and sign up now!

I'm running out of space now! Thank you as always for the support of the team at SPRI, the Committee, Heather and Celene for all the work that goes into the Friends' programme. I trust that it meets your approval – have a great 2013!

Scott statue at Portsmouth

Statue of Captain Scott in Portsmouth (Photo: © Bryan Lintott)

From the Institute

A few words from the Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell:

I am delighted to hear that Emma Stibbon, the Friends' artist in residence, has just come back from a very successful visit to Antarctica. I am grateful to the Royal Navy for their support of this programme by providing a berth on HMS Protector and to Bonhams for their sponsorship of Emma. I am sure we shall all look forward to viewing Emma's work in due course.

We are also planning new field programmes for the summer Arctic field season. Several of us will be going to Svalbard to take part in a marine-geophysical research cruise in September. We will be collaborating with Prof. Riko Noormets (a former post-doctoral researcher with me at SPRI), who is now in charge of geological research at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). Our aim is to better understand the past advance and retreat of the ice sheet north of Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet in the Svalbard archipelago. The ship is available to us for nine days and we will undertake both acoustic surveys and coring of the sedimentary record on the continental shelf.

In April, several research students and post-doctoral researchers will be attending the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. This is a good opportunity for students to present their work to a wide international audience of scientists. Presentations are in the form of either poster sessions or talks, and the discussion and feedback that are stimulated are very useful for developing ideas on the future directions of research.

Austfonna ice cap

The marine terminus of the Austfonna ice cap in Nordaustlandet, Svalbard. The ice cap, at 8,000 km2, is the largest in the Eurasian Arctic (Photo: © J.A. Dowdeswell)

Polar bears

Polar bears on the sea ice offshore of Svalbard (Photo: © J.A. Dowdeswell)

Vacancy - new Student representative

The Friends Committee wishes to recruit a student representative, between the ages of 18 and 25, from any UK institution of Further or Higher Education. If you are interested in this post, or know of anyone who may be, please contact Celene Pickard [] with an expression of interest, including a brief note on your suitability for the role, no later than 31 May 2013. The Committee meets at least twice during the year, in either London or Cambridge. A new student membership category has also been introduced at a cost of £5 per year.

News from the Heritage collections
From the Librarian and Keeper of Collections, Heather Lane:

The first few months of 2013 have been an exciting period, as the Museum has been fortunate to make two major new acquisitions. We recently heard from the Arts Council England of the success of our application under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme for SPRI to have permanent allocation of the portrait maquette of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, RN, standing full length in sledging outfit, for the Scott statue in Christchurch, New Zealand and Waterloo Place, London. This model, by Kathleen Scott, is in plaster and wood and we hope to place it on public display in the coming months.

We have also been able to purchase an important set of manuscripts relating to Scott's Terra Nova expedition. Thanks to generous donations by the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the John R Murray Trust, the Friends of the National Libraries and other individual donors, and with help from the Vice-Chancellor's Discretionary Fund, the Archives have been able to acquire one of the last letters written by Captain Scott from his final camp in Antarctica. The Institute was delighted to be offered the opportunity to acquire Scott's letter to Sir Francis Bridgeman, along with associated correspondence, as this is one of the very few known to remain in private ownership. We thank Lord and Lady Graham for offering SPRI first refusal and the staff of Bernard Quaritch Ltd for their assistance.

Staff changes

We were sad to say farewell at the beginning of March to Kay Smith, who leaves to take up the new post of Project Manager for the redevelopment of the University Museum of Zoology. Kay joined the Institute in 2007, was a driving force in the renovation of the Polar Museum and stayed on in the new role of Museum Development Coordinator, overseeing many of the recent exhibitions and publications. We wish her every success in her new post.

Following the retirement of Shirley Sawtell, Georgina Cronin has been appointed to the post of Senior Library Assistant, with special responsibility for Reader Services. We are delighted to retain Georgina's expertise and enthusiasm for the Polar regions and congratulate her on her recent qualification as a professional librarian. Georgina is currently working towards a Master's degree in librarianship from Northumbria University.

A note from the Membership Secretary, Ann Bean

Any enquiries about membership (including subscription rates and renewals) should be sent to Ann Bean []. Membership currently stands at 639.

Subscription Reminders and Acknowledgements

As reported at the AGM, in order to reduce our postal costs we will, wherever possible, be sending subscription reminders and acknowledgements by email.


A very warm welcome is extended to all new members.


We are sad to note the passing of the following members - Mr D E Wise, Mr U Kracht and Professor P Hooper.


We thank 'Ice Tracks' for generously sponsoring this edition of Polar Bytes. Ice Tracks Expeditions is in partnership with the Friends of SPRI for the Shackleton Centenary Expedition.

Ice Tracks Logo

Edited by Heather Lane & Celene Pickard