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# Drone images show Greenland Ice Sheet becoming more unstable as it fractures

In a new study, researchers at the Scott Polar Research Institute used drones to observe how fractures form on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The new research, published 2nd December 2019 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, explains why supraglacial lakes in Greenland drain rapidly, and how the drainage creates conduits for continued supply of surface meltwater to the base of the ice sheet.

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# Launching 'Shackleton Online'

We are proud to announce the launch of our new site: Shackleton Online.

This part of the Polar Museum website showcases our exceptional material related to Sir Ernest Shackleton. It is a source of information on everything from the stories of Shackleton's expeditions to the Antarctic, the biographies of his men, and the objects which they took with them to the far South. We also have some audio-described objects from our collection as well as videos on subjects voted for by the public over the summer.

This project has kindly been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust.

We can't wait for you to see it!

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# Applications open for new climate project

Applications for the Cambridge Climate Life and Earth (C-CLEAR) NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, are now being accepted.

The C-CLEAR NERC DTP is among the first programmes in the world to study the connected issues of global change, past, present and future from a cross-disciplinary vantage point. Students will gain deep insights into the processes and outcomes of global change in the past and be equipped with the tools to understand and question the processes of human and planetary change and transformation taking place now and into the future.

Students will engage in research projects of global significance across NERC science, and receive high-quality training in research, professional, technical and transferable skills through a focused core programme.

The application deadline is noon Tuesday 7th January 2020. Find out more and apply.

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# ERC Arctic Cultures Workshop, 9-10 January 2020

The ERC Arctic Cultures grant led by Richard Powell is holding its first Project Workshop – 'Knowledge Formations and Colonial Encounters in the Arctic', 9-10 January 2020 at the Scott Polar Research Institute.

The workshop is part of a series of research events bringing team members, leading international experts and interested scholars into dialogue around the themes of the project. The focus for this workshop specifically is to examine the co-production of Arctic knowledge formations through encounters between indigenous inhabitants and non-indigenous actors. Presentations will draw upon empirical research and theorisation to investigate spatial formations of the Arctic and the role of Northern actors and institutions.

All are welcome and attendance is free, but prior registration is required please. The full programme, abstracts and registration details are available on the project website.

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# SPRI Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, awarded RSGS WS Bruce Medal

Dr Bryan Lintott

Congratulations to our Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, who has been awarded the Royal Scottish Geographical Society 2019 WS Bruce Medal, for his contribution to glaciology & polar science.

We were pleased to welcome RSGS Chief Executive Mike Robinson, as he visited the Scott Polar Research Institute to present Professor Dowdeswell with the award.

# Award success for SPRI Education & Outreach

Congratulations to SPRI Education and Outreach Assistant, Naomi Chapman, who has recently received a University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor's Research Impact and Engagement Award.

The Vice-Chancellor's Impact and Public Engagement with Research Awards schemes were established in 2016 to recognise and celebrate excellence in research impact and public engagement with research.

Naomi received her award for her role in developing innovative tactile maps of the Arctic and Antarctic, which have allowed many young and partially sighted people to enjoy a touch tour of polar research.

# AHRC DTP PhD studentship - Gender and histories of Arctic field science, 1900-1950

Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award at the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), University of Cambridge, in partnership with the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (OUMNH).

The fully-funded studentship will be based in the Department of Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute. The successful applicant will work on a collaborative project co-led by Dr Richard Powell, Department of Geography (and Scott Polar Research Institute) and co-supervisor, Professor Paul Smith, Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

This project provides the opportunity to explore the histories of a range of women in the twentieth-century Arctic, including female scientists, travellers and collectors and their encounters with indigenous people. The project draw upon extensive archival records about the geologist Phyllis Wager and the writer Isobel Wylie Hutchison. The student will also be encouraged to develop a comparative focus to include other key actors involved in gendering the Arctic field sciences.

Further details of the project and its aims can be found on the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP website.

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# Vintage film reveals Antarctic glacier melting

Thwaites Glacier - Credit: NASA

Newly-digitised vintage film has doubled how far back scientists can peer into the history of underground ice in Antarctica, and revealed that an ice shelf on Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is being thawed by a warming ocean more quickly than previously thought. This finding contributes to predictions for sea-level rise that would impact coastal communities around the world.

Researchers digitised about 250,000 flight miles of Antarctic radar data originally captured on 35mm optical film between 1971 and 1979 as part of a collaboration between Stanford and the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) at the University of Cambridge. The data has been released to an online public archive through Stanford Libraries, enabling other scientists to compare it with modern radar data in order to understand long-term changes in ice thickness, features within glaciers and baseline conditions over 40 years.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, a co-author of the paper, commented: "These early records of ice thickness provide an important baseline against which we can measure the rate of change of the Antarctic Ice Sheet over the past 40 or so years. The high-resolution digitization of these records crucially makes them available for a series of important investigations on aspects of Antarctic environmental change."

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# Reconstructing the past extent of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets

Dr Christine Batchelor and Professor Philip Gibbard of the Scott Polar Research Institute, together with researchers from the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology, Durham University, University of Sussex, and Charles University in Prague, have published a paper in Nature Communications about the configuration of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets through the Quaternary.

In this study, the authors compile a synthesis of empirical data and numerical modelling results related to Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to produce new hypotheses regarding their extent at 17 time-slices that span the last 3.6 million years. These reconstructions, which are available as a series of maps and shapefiles of ice-sheet extent, illustrate significant variations in ice-marginal positions between glacial cycles.

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# Origins of water beneath Mars' south polar ice cap

Dr Neil Arnold, in collaboration with Dr Matt Balme and Dr Frances Butcher (a former undergraduate in the Department of Geography here in Cambridge) of the Open University, and Dr Susan Conway of the University of Nantes, France, have published a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets investigating the location of the recently-detected water layer beneath part of Mars' south polar ice cap.

Mars' present‐day ice deposits are generally assumed to be frozen throughout given its very cold climate, but new evidence from orbital radar data suggests a possible present‐day ~20km‐wide area of liquid water beneath Mars' south polar ice cap. Subglacial lakes are common on Earth, and their locations have been successfully predicted from ice surface topography and ice thickness using theories for subglacial water flow. This paper uses surface topography and ice thickness data for Mars' south polar ice cap to calculate the theoretical locations of possible subglacial lakes beneath the ice cap, and compares these with the location of the observed possible present‐day area of liquid water. The observed patch of possible liquid water does not coincide with the predicted lake locations however, which the paper interprets as implying that the liquid water is most likely to be an isolated patch of liquid, possibly caused by locally raised geothermal heating, rather than the liquid forming a "true", topographically constrained, subglacial lake.

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