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# SPRI library forges new links with Arctic Russia

National Library of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YaNAO)

Eleanor Peers in partnership with Anastasiia Shnaider have arranged an exchange of resources between the SPRI library and the National Library of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YaNAO) in Arctic Russia. Thanks to this exchange SPRI will acquire books from YaNAO that are unavailable anywhere else in the UK, if not Europe. Readers at the SPRI library will be able to learn about the diverse histories and cultures of this fascinating and little-known area. YaNAO is both an important industrial region, and the homeland of several Indigenous communities, such as the Nenets, Khanty and Komi peoples. In return, the National Library will receive access to the Polar Record.

We are especially glad about the new links we are making with YaNAO's Academic Centre for the Study of the Arctic, who will be sending us their work through this exchange. The Academic Centre carries out crucial multidisciplinary research into YaNAO and the Russian Arctic. Like SPRI, it incorporates scholars from both the sciences (e.g. Cryology and Medicine), and the humanities and social sciences (e.g. Archaeology, Social Anthropology, and Social Psychology). We are delighted to be receiving the Centre's work via the National Library, and we hope that these additions to our collection will stimulate new and fruitful collaborations between YaNAO and the United Kingdom.

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

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.

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

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.

The study examines the transatlantic exchange of scientific theories and epistemic objects related to theories of an Open Polar Sea among European and American scientific networks during the early 1850s. Drawing on Arctic expeditions envisioned by the American explorer Elisha Kent Kane and the Prussian cartographer August Petermann, Kaalund and Woitkowitz show how the notion of expertise in Arctic geography and exploration was rooted in first-hand experience and mediated knowledge in the field along with emergent understandings of the Arctic Ocean as a system of interacting physical phenomena. Based on archival research in Germany, England and the United States, the paper adopts a comparative and transnational approach to demonstrate how nineteenth-century scientific theories and cartographies of the Arctic moved among Berlin, London, and New York, and in doing so informed Arctic exploration agendas throughout the Atlantic world.

Read the full research article: Nanna Kaalund and John Woitkowitz, "'Ancient lore with modern appliances': networks, expertise, and the making of the Open Polar Sea, 1851-1853," British Journal for the History of Science (2021).

# Piers Vitebsky awarded IASSA Honorary Lifetime Membership

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.

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# Mapping glacier surface debris thickness across high mountain Asia

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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# Dowdeswell Bay

We are delighted to announce that Professor Julian Dowdeswell, former Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, has been honoured by the Antarctic Place-names Committee, and an Antarctic bay has been named for him. The bay is about 8.5 km wide and 8 km deep (2021) at the southern end of Lallemand Fjord, Loubet Coast. To the west of Hooke Point and north of, and formed by the retreat of, Müller Ice Shelf. The newly named Dowdeswell Bay continues a well-established naming theme of Glaciologists in this area.

Professor Dowdeswell is a glaciologist, studying the form and flow of glaciers and ice caps and their response to climate change, and the links between former ice sheets and the marine geological record. He was Chief Scientist on the Weddell Sea Expedition, 2019, and represented the UK on the councils of both the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and was Chair of the UK National Committee on Antarctic Research. Awarded the Polar Medal (1994) for 'outstanding contributions to glacier geophysics'; Founder's Gold Medal from the Royal Geographical Society (2008); Louis Agassiz Medal from European geosciences Union (2011) and Lyell Medal from the Geological Society of London (2018).

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# New book: Explorations in the Icy North

A new book by Nanna K. L. Kaalund, SPRI Research Associate on the ERC Arctic Cultures project, is now out: Explorations in the Icy North: How Travel Narratives Shaped Arctic Science in the Nineteenth Century, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021.

Science in the Arctic changed dramatically over the course of the nineteenth century, when early, scattered attempts in the region to gather knowledge about all aspects of the natural world transitioned to a more unified Arctic science under the First International Polar Year in 1882. The IPY brought together researchers from multiple countries with the aim of undertaking systematic and coordinated experiments and observations in the Arctic and Antarctic. Harsh conditions, intense isolation, and acute danger inevitably impacted the making and communicating of scientific knowledge. At the same time, changes in ideas about what it meant to be an authoritative observer of natural phenomena were linked to tensions in imperial ambitions, national identities, and international collaborations of the IPY. Through a focused study of travel narratives in the British, Danish, Canadian, and American contexts, Nanna Katrine Lüders Kaalund uncovers not only the transnational nature of Arctic exploration, but also how the publication and reception of literature about it shaped an extreme environment, its explorers, and their scientific practices. She reveals how, far beyond the metropole—in the vast area we understand today as the North American and Greenlandic Arctic—explorations and the narratives that followed ultimately influenced the production of field science in the nineteenth century.

"In this study of the making of Arctic science, Nanna Katrine Lüders Kaalund's originality lies in her attention to Greenland as well as the Canadian archipelago and the shores of the Arctic Ocean; the role of narratives in shaping knowledge; and the role of the Inuit, who have too often been ignored by historians. She brings literary sensibilities as well as historiographical ones to this book, which will accordingly be of interest to historians of imperialism, historians of science, cultural historians, literary scholars, and those simply fascinated by the Arctic."

Trevor H. Levere, University of Toronto

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# Fibre-optics used to take the temperature of Greenland Ice Sheet

RESPONDER team members installing borehole sensors after drilling to the bed of Store Glacier (Rob Law and RESPONDER team)

Scientists have used fibre-optic sensing to obtain the most detailed measurements of ice properties ever taken on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Their findings will be used to make more accurate models of the future movement of the world's second-largest ice sheet, as the effects of climate change continue to accelerate.

The research team, led by Dr Poul Christoffersen from the Scott Polar Research Institute, used a new technique in which laser pulses are transmitted in a fibre-optic cable to obtain highly detailed temperature measurements from the surface of the ice sheet all the way to the base, more than 1000 metres below.

"With typical sensing methods, we can only attach about a dozen sensors onto the cable, so the measurements are very spaced out," said first author Robert Law, a PhD candidate at the Scott Polar Research Institute. "But by using a fibre-optic cable instead, essentially the whole cable becomes a sensor, so we can get precise measurements from the surface all the way to the base." The researchers found three layers of ice in the glacier. The thickest layer consists of cold and stiff ice which formed over the last 10,000 years. Below, they found older ice from the last ice age, which is softer and more deformable due to dust trapped in the ice. What surprised the researchers the most, however, was a layer of warm ice more than 70 metres thick at the bottom of the glacier. "We know this type of warm ice from far warmer Alpine environments, but here the glacier is producing the heat by deforming itself," said Law.

Read the full paper: Robert Law et al. 'Thermodynamics of a fast-moving Greenlandic outlet glacier revealed by fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing.' Science Advances (2021). doi:10.1126/sciadv.abe7136

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# SPRI Review 2020

SPRI Review 2020 is now available online. SPRI Review is the Annual Report issued by the Scott Polar Research Institute, giving information on the Institute's activities over the past year.

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# Professor Julian Dowdeswell

Professor Julian Dowdeswell retired from the Directorship of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Easter 2021 after almost 20 years in the post. He will remain as Professor of Physical Geography and a member of SPRI during a period of sabbatical leave prior to retirement from the University of Cambridge at the end of 2022.

During a career of over four decades, since his graduation from the Cambridge Geography Department in 1980, Julian has led or participated in more than 40 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. His research, published in almost 400 papers, is centred in two main themes. The first concerns the patterns, processes and rates of glacial sedimentation on high-latitude continental margins, from fjords and continental shelves to the deep sea, and the record of past glacier and ice-sheet change found there. The second is the form and flow of modern glaciers and ice sheets, their sensitivity to climatic variations and the implications for global sea level.

In terms of highlighting environmental issues concerning the changing icy world to wider audiences, from decision-makers to the general public, Julian has also made wide-ranging contributions; co-authored books include 'Islands of the Arctic' and 'The Continent of Antarctica'. He has spoken a number of times to members of both Houses of Parliament, has been an invited speaker on issues concerning ice and environmental change at, for example, the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Nobel Dialogues in Stockholm and was a UK delegate at the 2016 White House Ministerial on the future of the Arctic.

He also represented the UK for almost 10 years as delegate to the councils of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Beyond academia, Julian is also a Trustee of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

Julian says of his time as SPRI Director: 'I have very much enjoyed the challenges of being the Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute. It has been a privilege to have undertaken research in the Arctic and Antarctic and their surrounding seas on a regular basis and to have been able to work with a series of very able research students and post-docs over this period. A key continuing role for the SPRI is to train the brightest and best to take forward our understanding of polar environmental change; the Centenary Fundraising Campaign is an important contribution to this. I also value the collections of the Institute greatly – our wonderful Library, Archive, Museum and Picture Library. One particular benefit of being Director is the opportunity to get to know these collections and, indeed, to show visitors the breadth, depth and quality of our holdings. Wider outreach through SPRI's contributions to the centenaries of the 'Heroic Age' expeditions has also been memorable through, for example, services of celebration and remembrance in St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. It has been a fulfilling twenty years as SPRI Director - as has been my whole career spent in Cambridge, Bristol and Aberystwyth universities.'

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