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# Environmental Diplomacy in the Arctic

Geographer Richard Powell appeared today, 19 January 2021, as a witness before the Foreign Affairs Committee's inquiry into 'Environmental Diplomacy'. The inquiry is examining the UK Government's strategic approach to environmental diplomacy, particularly in the context of COP26.

Richard contributed evidence to a session addressing the geopolitics and governance of the polar regions. The Committee business is all being held virtually.

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# Nimrod expedition sledging flag acquired for the nation

The Scott Polar Research Institute and the National Maritime Museum have acquired the sledging flag and sledge that Dr Eric Marshall (1879-1963) used on Ernest Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition (BAE) of 1907-1909. The sledge and sledging flag are the two most recent acquisition supported by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, with a grant of £204,700.

The flag will rejoin its partner, Shackleton's sledging flag from the same expedition, in the collections of the Scott Polar Research Institute. It will be cared for in a temperature, humidity and light controlled environment so that it can be preserved for future generations. The Institute's Polar Museum hopes to update its displays relating to the Nimrod expedition to highlight not only the feat of almost reaching the geographic South Pole, but also the scientific goals and achievements of the expedition.

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# 100 Years of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Today we have been celebrating the centenary of the Scott Polar Research Institute, with a day looking back at the past 100 years of polar research conducted at the Institute.

Although 2020 has been a year of unexpected challenges, the SPRI community continues to work together to continue the legacy of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his four companions who died on their return from the South Pole in 1912, and Frank Debenham, who was the driving force behind the founding of the Institute. We are very much looking forward to seeing what the future holds, and another 100 years of SPRI.

The Polar Museum recently unveiled its new exhibition, dedicated to the Scott Polar Research Institute centenary 'A Century of Polar Research', which you can also now view online.

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# Dr Christine Batchelor

European Geosciences Union

We are pleased to pass on the excellent news that Dr Christine Batchelor will receive the Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award for 2021 from the Cryospheric Sciences Division of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Winners are honoured for their important contributions to Earth, planetary and space sciences.

# Arctic Ocean sediments reveal permafrost thawing during past climate warming

Björn Eriksson

A new paper co-authored by Francesco Muschitiello has used seafloor sediments of the Arctic Ocean to understand how permafrost responds to climate warming and found evidence of past permafrost thawing during climate warming events at the end of the last ice age.

The study also shows for the first time that permafrost thawing occurred concomitantly with the release of large quantities of atmospheric CO2 as recorded in Antarctic ice cores. The findings suggest that Arctic warming by only a few degrees Celsius may be sufficient to disturb large areas covered by permafrost and potentially affect the Earth's climate system.

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# Dr Simon Ommanney

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Dr Simon Ommanney, who spent a number of years at the Scott Polar Research Institute as the Secretary General of the International Glaciological Society.

Dr Ommanney was committed to the science of glaciology, devoting his academic life and career in England and Canada, and continuing to advance the discipline during his retirement.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

# Deep channels link ocean to vulnerable West Antarctic glacier

James Kirkham

Newly-discovered deep seabed channels beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica may be the pathway for warm ocean water to melt the underside of the ice.

Researchers from UK and US International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration, including James Kirkham from SPRI, collected data from offshore of the glacier during January-March 2019 aboard the icebreaker the RV Nathaniel B Palmer.

Exceptional sea-ice break up in early 2019 enabled the team to survey over 2000 square kilometres of sea floor right in front of the glacier — an area which had previously been hidden beneath part of the floating ice shelf extending from Thwaites Glacier.

The team's findings reveal that the sea floor contains deep channels leading under the ice shelf towards the grounding line which may provide pathways along which warm water can reach the underside of Thwaites Glacier, causing it to melt and contribute to global sea-level rise.

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# Past subglacial water flow beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet

James Kirkham

A new paper by James Kirkham, Julian Dowdeswell and others has used two decades of multibeam bathymetric data to explore the meltwater drainage imprint left by the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the past.

High-resolution maps of seabed areas previously covered by ice reveal over 2700 channels carved by subglacial rivers of meltwater flowing beneath the ice sheet.

The seafloor channels are extremely large (up to 3 km wide and over 200 m deep) and inform us about processes that are difficult to observe beneath the modern day ice sheet, and which occur over timescales much longer than covered by existing glaciological observations. The authors conclude that the channels were most likely incised by the periodic drainage of subglacial lakes over multiple glacial cycles.

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# SPRI building closure update

The Scott Polar Research Institute is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, but is now open to staff on a limited basis for essential research and teaching activity.

Our Polar Museum and library remain closed to the public. We look forward to welcoming you back to our public spaces; however, our first priority continues to be the safety of staff and visitors. We will only reopen to the public when all necessary safety measures are in place.

Please follow our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and this website, for further updates and news on our reopening.

# Undergraduate Open Days 17 & 18 September

Find out more about studying Undergraduate Geography at Cambridge at the online Undergraduate Open days 17-18th September.

Sign up to attend.


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