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# Collaboration between women helps close the gender gap in ice core science

A Perspective article co-written by Dr Matt Osman and colleagues in Nature Geoscience addresses gender disparities in ice core science.

Despite historical underrepresentation, the study reveals that the gender gap is closing. Since the early 2000s, women have outperformed their estimated proportion in publishing first-authored papers, suggesting that they fill important leadership roles on coauthor teams. Crucially, woman-led studies show a 20% higher proportion of women coauthors compared to man-led studies.

The analysis emphasizes the critical role of collaboration between women, especially senior scientists, in narrowing gender gaps within the field.

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# Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, visits SPRI to give Research Seminar

Natan Obed is the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. He was first elected in 2015 and was acclaimed to his third consecutive term in 2021. He grew up in Nain, the northernmost community of Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador). He graduated from Tufts University in 2001.

President Obed is the national spokesperson for Inuit in Canada and also serves as Vice-President of Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada. As ITK President, he implements the direction set out by Inuit Leadership from the four regions of Inuit Nunangat — the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut.

President Obed will meet with colleagues to discuss Arctic research and collections. The visit is supported by the ERC Arctic Cultures project, and is part of the HCEP cluster's Research Seminar Series. The lecture, "Unpacking Colonial Ties: Self-determination in Inuit Nunangat, Canada", is in the SPRI Lecture Theatre, 16.15, Tuesday 21 November 2023.

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# Becky Dell is appointed Assistant Professor in Glaciology at the Scott Polar Research Institute

We are delighted to announce that Dr Becky Dell has been appointed as an Assistant Professor in Glaciology at SPRI, starting October 1st this year.

Becky first arrived at SPRI in 2017 for her PhD, which focussed on developing remote sensing and machine learning methods for the study of ice-shelf stability in Antarctica. Since completing her PhD in 2021, Becky has worked within the Institute as a European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative Fellow.

Becky has significant expertise in both remote sensing and fieldwork-based studies of Antarctic ice shelves, which will continue to be of considerable benefit to the research, teaching, and outreach of both SPRI and the Geography Department.

# Marc Macias-Fauria is appointed Professor of Physical Geography

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Marc Macias-Fauria as Professor of Physical Geography, a position held between the Department of Geogtraphy and the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Marc is currently Professor of Biogeosciences in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University. He is an ecologist who studies the interactions between biological systems and the physical environment they inhabit, experience, and modify, with an emphasis on environmental change in cold ecosystems, especially in the Arctic, but also cold ecosystems globally.

Marc will bring additional strength to SPRI's work on changing Arctic ecosystems and cryospheric processes, and his work will integrate across the department's research in the fields of plant sciences, biogeography, climatology, and Earth sciences, conceived within an Earth System based and solutions-oriented approach.

Marc will take up his appointment at the University of Cambridge on 1st January 2024.

Mike Hulme, Head of Department

# Ice sheets can retreat faster than previously thought possible

Dr. Frazer Christie, Scott Polar Research Institute

SPRI-based researchers Drs. Frazer Christie, Sasha Montelli, Prof. Julian Dowdeswell and Evelyn Dowdeswell have published research showing that ice sheets are capable of retreating much faster than previously thought possible.

The research, led by Cambridge Geography and SPRI alumnus Dr. Christine Batchelor of Newcastle University, analysed more than 7,600 subtle landforms called 'corrugation ridges' across the mid-Norwegian seafloor. These landforms revealed that a former ice sheet underwent pulses of rapid retreat totalling up to 600 meters per day at the end of the last Ice Age. This rate is up to 20 times faster than present-day rates of ice-sheet retreat observed from satellites, and suggests that similarly rapid retreat could occur across flat-bedded areas of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the future.

The research is published as an article in the journal Nature, and further information can be found in the Cambridge University press release.

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# SPRI Review 2022

SPRI Review 2022 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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# New study finds flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet more complex than thought

Robert Law

Researchers in the Department of Geography and the Scott Polar Research Institute have identified a highly variable layer of 'warm' basal ice to exert strong control on the flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The basal ice layer is highly deformable and up to 70 m thick in topographic depressions where its deformation explains 90% of the ice sheet's total motion. To study where the basal ice layer forms and how it evolves, the researchers constructed a 3D model.

The results reported in the journal Science Advances could be used to develop more accurate predictions of how the Greenland Ice Sheet will respond to climate change. "Even tiny amounts of liquid water alters the mechanical characteristics of the ice considerably" said first author Dr Robert Law, who completed the work as a PhD student in Cambridge. "The findings challenge the textbook view of how ice sheets move" added supervisor and project leader Professor Poul Christoffersen.

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# Runaway West Antarctic ice retreat can be slowed by climate-driven changes in ocean temperature

Dr. Frazer Christie, Scott Polar Research Institute

An international team of researchers, led by Dr. Frazer Christie, has combined satellite imagery and climate and ocean records to obtain the most detailed understanding yet of how West Antarctica is responding to climate change.

Their results, published in the journal Nature Communications, show that while West Antarctica continues to retreat, the pace of ice melting has recently slowed across its most vulnerable sector in-sync with changes in atmosphere and ocean conditions offshore. Ultimately, the research implies that runaway, ice-sheet-wide collapse isn't inevitable, depending on how the climate changes over the next few decades.

The study was supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Natural Environment Research Council, the US National Science Foundation, the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration project and the European Space Agency.

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# Shackleton's Cabin on BBC iPlayer featuring SPRI Archives

Naomi Boneham, SPRI's Archivist appears in the film in interview with Sven Habermann sharing Shackleton's diaries.

On 5 January 1922, world-famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton died of a heart attack in his cabin aboard The Quest during his final expedition to the South Pole Moored in Norway, The Quest was broken apart. However, one of the dockers had the foresight to remove Shackleton's cabin. He took it home and it served as his family's garden shed for three generations.

Nearly 100 years after Shackleton's death, the cabin has been donated to a museum in the explorer's hometown, where master craftsman and Shackleton enthusiast Sven Habermann painstakingly restores it to its former glory. With only one surviving photograph of the cabin's interior, Sven goes to extreme lengths to retrace every detail, from the wood to the original wallpaper used. Shackleton's Cabin follows Sven as he rebuilds the cabin and explores the life and final days of his hero.

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# A new graphic novel brings story of Scott’s expedition to the South Pole to life

To celebrate the centennial year of the publication of The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, an account of Scott's infamous expedition to the South Pole, SPRI Institute Associate and former Disney animator Sarah Airriess has transformed Cherry's tome into a soon-to-be published graphic novel. Retelling the story through cinematic visuals, the novel keeps as true as possible to the original account while bringing out the emotional core of Cherry's tale, and open up a classic book to new audiences.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of the youngest members of the expedition. As things started to go wrong, he found himself drawn to the centre of events and burdened with responsibility far beyond his abilities. A painful loss of innocence is the axis on which the story turns, but The Worst Journey in the World is ultimately about the power of friendship, the value of curiosity, and the extremes to which people go for the sake of an idea.

Airriess will be releasing the story as a set of volumes, the first part following the expedition crew of the Terra Nova as they sail from Cardiff to Antarctica. The Worst Journey in the World: The Graphic Novel, will be published by independent publisher, Indie Novella, and will be available to buy online and via selected distributors from 24th November 2022.

Airriess undertook research over the course of a decade to bring her graphic novel to life, in collaboration with the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, using their archives to inform the narrative, and the collection of the Polar Museum to inform the drawings. In 2019, she travelled to Antarctica in order to follow the footsteps of Scott and faithfully portray the setting of the story from first-hand experience.

Airriess' work behind the making of the graphic novel is currently on exhibition at The Polar Museum in Cambridge and can be viewed by the public until the end of October 2022.

# Professor Julian Dowdeswell reappointed as a Royal Museums Greenwich Trustee

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been reappointed as a Royal Museums Greenwich Trustee Trustee, for a four-year term commencing 3 September 2022 until 2 September 2026.

Julian has been Professor of Physical Geography in Cambridge University since 2002. He has just retired from almost 20 years as Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute. He 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. Julian has worked, on the ice and from aircraft, in Antarctica and many parts of the Arctic. He has also undertaken many periods of work on icebreaking research vessels in the Southern Ocean and the Arctic.

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# Seasonal change in Antarctic Ice Sheet movement observed for first time

Conchie, Hubert, Saturn, Venus and Uranus glaciers draining into George VI Ice Shelf. Credit: Copernicus/European Space Agency. Sentinel-2 image processed by Karla Boxall.

SPRI researchers, led by Karla Boxall, have identified distinct, seasonal movements in the flow of land ice draining into George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the first time that such seasonal cycles have been detected on land ice flowing into ice shelves in Antarctica.

Using imagery from the Copernicus/European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellites, the researchers found that the glaciers feeding the ice shelf speed up by approximately 15% during the Antarctic summer. The results are reported in the journal The Cryosphere.

The research has been published as an article in the journal The Cryosphere and was supported in part by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the European Space Agency through the Antarctic Ice Sheet Climate Change Initiative Programme.

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# Ice age valleys give clues to future ice sheet change

James Kirkham

Deep valleys buried under the seafloor of the North Sea record how the ancient ice sheets that used to cover the UK and Europe expelled water to stop themselves from collapsing.

A new study by James Kirkham (Lead Author) and others published this week discovered that the valleys took just hundreds of years to form as they transported vast amounts of meltwater away from under the ice and out into the sea.

This new understanding of when the vast ice sheets melted 20,000 years ago has implications for how glaciers may respond to climate warming today.

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# New evidence for possible liquid water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars

An international team of researchers, led by Neil Arnold at SPRI, has revealed new evidence for the possible existence of liquid water beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars.

The team, including researchers from the University of Sheffield, the University of Nantes, University College, Dublin, and the Open University used spacecraft laser-altimeter measurements of the shape of the upper surface of the ice cap to identify subtle patterns in its height.

Their results agree with earlier ice-penetrating radar measurements that were originally interpreted to show a potential area of liquid water beneath the ice. There has been debate over the liquid water interpretation from the radar data alone, with some studies suggesting the radar signal is not due to liquid water.

The results, reported in the journal Nature Astronomy, provide the first independent line of evidence, using data other than radar, that there is liquid water beneath Mars' south polar ice cap.

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# Olga Tutubalina and Gareth Rees interviewed for BBC Radio 4

SPRI researchers Dr Gareth Rees and Dr Olga Tutubalina were interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Inside Science for a special programme about science collaborations with Russia. Listen online from 05:42.

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# Gareth Rees's work in Arctic featured in Financial Times

The work of Gareth Rees and others studying the Boreal forest biome has been featured in an article in the Financial Times.

The article explores how climate change is affecting the forest around the Arctic circle, with a particular focus on Russia. There is some commentary on the role of diplomacy and conflict in enabling or preventing vital research, which impact on understandings of environmental change that affect the entire globe.

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# Premdeep Gill elected to RGS Council

PhD student, Prem Gill, has been elected by members of the Royal Geographical Society to the Council of the RGS as the Expedition and Fieldwork Councillor for the next three years.

The Council is responsible for the Society's governance and Prem joins a group of 21 elected members. As the Expedition and Fieldwork Councillor, Prem will lead the Expeditions and Fieldwork Committee, using his specific expertise to help guide members and Society staff.

Prem Gill is currently a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr Gareth Rees, leading the "Seals from Space: the study of Antarctic pack-ice seals by remote sensing" priority project with the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

# Sea ice can control Antarctic ice sheet stability, new SPRI research finds

SPRI researchers have used over 40 years of satellite observations and ocean and atmosphere records to show that abrupt changes in offshore sea ice cover can either safeguard from, or set in motion, the final rifting and calving of icebergs from even large Antarctic ice shelves.

The research, led by Dr. Frazer Christie, has been published as an article in the journal Nature Geoscience.

This research was supported in part by the Flotilla Foundation, Marine Archaeology Consultants Switzerland, and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

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# Professor Philip Gibbard awarded the Merit Medal by the German Quaternary Association (Deuqua)

Photo by Angela Coe 2020.

Emeritus Professor Philip Gibbard has been awarded the Verdienstmedaille (Merit Medal) by the German Quaternary Association (Deuqua). The medal is awarded biennially as a special honour for outstanding scientific achievements in Quaternary research.

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# Ancient subglacial water paths revealed around Antarctica

A new paper involving colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey, Neil Arnold and Julian Dowdeswell at SPRI, and other international colleagues, has been selected as an Editor's Highlight by the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

The paper analyses the results of new observations in the Marguerite Trough area, Antarctic Peninsula, using a combination of echosounders, remotely operated vehicles and sediment coring. The data show a complex network of channels formed as the Antarctic Ice Sheet was retreating from its peak extent at the last glacial maximum tens of thousands of years ago, including potholes and small, branching channels on the floors of the larger channels formed by erosion by highly turbulent water flow. A hydrological model developed at SPRI shows that such water flow was associated with floods from subglacial lakes that happened every few tens to hundreds of years.

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# Viking partners with the Scott Polar Research Institute to advance scientific research into the Polar Regions

Professor Julian Dowdeswell and Viking Executive Vice President Karine Hagen at the Scott Polar Museum. Image courtesy of Viking.

We pleased to announce the establishment of a new professorship to advance research in the field of polar environmental science, thanks to a generous endowment by Viking.

The Viking Polar Marine Geoscience Fund will endow the Viking Chair of Polar Marine Geoscience, the first fully funded professorship based at the Scott Polar Research Institute. This new post will enhance the scientific leadership at the Institute and enable the development of new lines of research into the past, present and likely future behaviour of polar ice sheets, sea ice and ocean circulation.

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# Shackleton's ship Endurance found

The wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance has been found 3000m deep on the floor of the Weddell Sea.

Ernest Shackleton's diary from the expedition is cared for by the Institute's archive, which is available to researchers working on the history of the polar regions.

In February, the BBC visited the Institute to make a film about the diary and some of our other Shackleton related collections, to mark the departure of the search expedition.

# Base of Greenland Ice Sheet melts much faster than expected

Poul Christoffersen

New research in the Department of Geography shows that meltwater falling through fractures and cracks on the Greenland Ice Sheet ends up melting the bottom of the ice at extremely high rates.

Huge quantities of meltwater are produced every summer and when it descends to the bed – a kilometre or more below, energy is converted into heat in a process like the hydroelectric power generated by large dams. To measure the effect, Dr Tun Jan Young and Professor Poul Christoffersen, both from the Scott Polar Research Institute, used radio-echo sounding and boreholes drilled to the bed of Store Glacier in the EU-funded RESPONDER project.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports unexpectedly warm basal conditions and melt rates that are approximately 100 times greater than expected. The research shed light on an over-looked ice-sheet mass-loss mechanism, which is not yet included in projections of global sea level rise.

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# On the Polar Road with Penguin Classics Podcasts: The Blazing World with Michael Bravo

Henry Eliot, Penguin Classics

In a new podcast, Dr Michael Bravo explores the idea of multiple worlds joined at the North Pole in The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, the maverick Duchess of Newcastle, proto-feminist and pioneering author of the first recognised work of polar fantasy. Blending fantasy, philosophy and seventeenth-century science, the podcast visits the Polar Museum, the Whipple Museum and Cambridge University Library. They meet Dr Joshua Nall, an expert on the history of science, and Dr Emily Dourish, deputy keeper of rare books.

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# The search for the Endurance

Charlotte Connelly, Curator of the Polar Museum at SPRI, spoke on the BBC Today programme (at 2h46s) about the Weddell Sea expedition in search of Shackleton's lost ship, Endurance.

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# Women of Snow and Ice

SPRI PhD student Morgan Seag, SPRI researcher Dr Becky Dell and SPRI Institute Associate Dr Ali Banwell are among interviewees in a special ice-themed edition of BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour.

Listen (from around 28:00) as women researchers in Antarctica are interviewed for the programme; find out how women broke through the ice ceiling to create opportunities and become leaders in their fields, and hear from researchers in the field working on the George VI ice sheet.

# SPRI research in the New York Times

As part of his doctoral research at SPRI, Dr Praveen Teleti investigated the historical variability of Antarctic sea ice, making use of whaling logbooks cared for by our archive. The logbooks contained invaluable climate measurements, including air and water temperatures, barometric pressure, wind strength, from the 1930s and 1950s.

You can read more about Dr Teleti's work in a new article in the New York Times, or for a more detailed account see "A historical Southern Ocean climate dataset from whaling ships' logbooks" in the Geoscience Data Journal (open access).

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# The Anthropocene defined as an event, not an epoch

Professor Phil Gibbard writes: What is the Anthropocene? When did it start? Ask ten experts and you're likely to get ten different answers. The solution is to define the Anthropocene as a geological event: the aggregated effects of human activities that are transforming the Earth system and altering biodiversity, producing a substantial record in sedimentary strata and in human-modified ground.

This definition, published in the Geoscience journal Episodes, is applicable across academic fields and explicitly recognises that the Anthropocene interval varies in time and space.

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# Stability of Antarctic Ice Shelves

Photo Ian Willis; Installing a weather station on the George VI Ice Shelf

Scott Polar Research Institute's Ian Willis and Becky Dell are on their way to Antarctica to retrieve data from instruments that were set up two years ago. They are currently quarantining in the Falkland Islands with their colleague Laura Stevens (University of Oxford) waiting for runway conditions at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera base to improve, before making their onward journey. From Rothera, they will fly a further 400 kms into the icy continent to Fossil Bluff on the edge of the George VI Ice Shelf where they will stay for around three weeks. Once there, they will commute daily onto the ice shelf by skiddoo to find the global positioning system instruments, water level sensors, weather stations, and time-lapse cameras that have hopefully been operating continuously since November 2019. They also plan to use a novel hot ring corer to retrieve 10-15 m deep ice cores from the ice shelf surface. The team will service and reposition the instruments to collect more data, before returning in January 2023 to pack them all up and bring them home.

Working with colleagues Alison Banwell (University of Colorado Boulder) and Doug MacAyeal (University of Chicago) the team will use the data to examine in detail how much melting occurs across the ice shelf each summer, how much of that water ponds up in lakes, and how that melting and ponding causes the floating ice shelf to bend and possibly crack. The team's findings should improve our understanding of how ice shelves fracture and break up. This may be more likely in the future as melting around Antarctica's periphery increases, ultimately due to global warming.

A recent study using satellite data by team members showed that 2019/2020 was an exceptionally high melt summer, with more water ponded on the George VI Ice shelf than at any time for the past three decades. In January 2020, just two months after the team set up their instruments, a large part of the northern part of the ice shelf was covered with water. The team are concerned, therefore, that some of their instruments may have got damaged as a result. They were unable to revisit the sites in the 2020/21 summer because of Covid-19, making this year's visit all the more important.

The work is funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the US National Science Foundation and with British Antarctic Survey Logistics. Becky Dell is funded by the European Space Agency through a Climate Change Initiative Fellowship.

# 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.'

# Daughters of the Snow (BBC Sounds and Radio 4)

A BBC Sounds / Radio 4 program, "Daughters of the Snow", broadcast this week and available to listen online, featured Dr Michael Bravo.

This collaboration between Dr Bravo, radio producer Andrea Rangecroft, and the artist and poet Himali Singh Soin, explores the North Pole as a mythologised space in literature. Reading novels like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Arthur Conan Doyle's Captain of the Pole Star at school in India, the North Pole has often been portrayed as a blank, white, mysterious and uninhabited place. The conversations in this programme, set to music, discuss the consequences of mythologising this huge region of diverse lands and cultures at the top of the world.

Read more …

# Greenland Ice Sheet lakes drain in the winter

Ian Willis

PhD student Corinne Benedek and supervisor Ian Willis have discovered that large lakes on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet drain in the Arctic winter. They used satellite radar images to identify large, anomalous, sudden and sustained increases in radar backscatter, showing a switch from a water to an ice surface.

It is known that lakes can drain catastrophically in the summer but this is the first time they have been seen to disappear in the winter.

Using other satellite data they confirmed the lake drainages, which show a lowering of the surface by several metres and the loss of up to 20 million cubic metres of water, the equivalent of around 8000 olympic size swimming pools emptying to the bottom of the ice sheet over a few days, possibly just a few hours.

The findings have implications for the speed at which the ice sheet flows to the ocean.

The work is discussed further on the University of Cambridge news pages and is published in The Cryosphere.

Read more …

# Big Freeze Art Festival launches

The Big Freeze

Online art festival, 4-14 March 2021 #BigFreezeArtFest

This spring, the Scott Polar Research Institute is holding an online art festival. Featuring work from the Polar Museum's collections, Friends of SPRI artists in residence and a range of other polar artists and film makers, the Big Freeze art festival will be the perfect way to wave goodbye to winter.


Throughout the festival we'll be sharing short films and interviews with a range of artists. Find out about the Inuit traditions that inspire Alaskan artist Art Oomittuk's work, watch a short film about Lesley Burr's residency in the Canadian Arctic and watch a film showing a day in the studio with Theo Crutchley-Mack. Most of our programme will be streamed over social media, you can see the full programme on our website.


The Big Freeze art festival includes the Big Freeze online exhibition. Featuring work from our participating artists and from our collection, the exhibition will offer the opportunity to explore at your own pace.


You can get involved too by joining in with The Big Freeze Challenge: Polar self Portraits! How about a polar self portrait of… yourself? The festival will open with a special online screening of artist and curator Zsuzsanna Ardó's Polar Self Portraits project, and the invitation to you to join in by imagining yourself in the polar regions and creating your own self portrait. Share your image with us using the #BigFreezeArtFest hashtag on social media.

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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.

Read more …

# 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.

Read more …

# 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.

Read more …

# 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.

# Course changes 2020-21

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and government guidance, we have had to make some changes to some elements of our teaching programmes for 2020-21 in order to mitigate against risks to health and to give students the best possible academic experience in the circumstances. We will continue to monitor and respond to the changing public health situation.

Please follow these links for further information regarding our MPhil:

# Lateral Meltwater Transfer Across an Antarctic Ice-Shelf

A new paper 'Lateral meltwater transfer across an Antarctic ice shelf', co-authored by Rebecca Dell, Ian Willis, Neil Arnold, Alison Banwell & Andrew Williamson, and published in The Cryosphere demonstrates methods to track surface meltwater across Antarctic ice shelves.

The team developed a semi-automated method that allows them to track surface water bodies across Antarctic ice shelves, providing information on the area, volume, and geometry of water bodies throughout a melt-season. The method was applied to Nivlisen Ice Shelf in East Antarctica, and results revealed two large linear water bodies, which migrated towards the front of the ice shelf as the melt season progressed.

Read more …

# Ian Stone

Colleagues and Friends will be saddened to hear of the passing of Ian Stone, Emeritus Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute. Ian was editor of the Polar Record for more than ten years (2006-16) and was a great champion for the Institute. He did a superb job in terms of both the quality of articles published in Polar Record and also in increasing the number and breadth of contributions. Our sympathy goes to his family.

# PhD students shortlisted for Glaciology award

Former SPRI PhD students, Andrew Williamson and Tun Jan Young, supervised by Neil Arnold, Alison Banwell, Poul Christoffersen and Ian Willis, were shortlisted for the 2020 IACS-IGS Graham Cogley Award "for their excellent papers published in the Journal of Glaciology over the past two years".

From approximately 70 student-authored papers in the Journal of Glaciology and Annals of Glaciology eligible for the 2020 award, the committee shortlisted nine papers from five countries.

Their papers use novel satellite remote sensing methods and field-based radar techniques to investigate hydrological and dynamic processes on the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Williamson, A., Willis, I., Arnold, N., & Banwell, A. (2018). Controls on rapid supraglacial lake drainage in West Greenland: An Exploratory Data Analysis approach. Journal of Glaciology, 64(244), 208-226.

Tun Jan Young: Young, T., Schroeder, D., Christoffersen, P., Lok, L., Nicholls, K., Brennan, P., Doyle, S.H., Hubbard, B. & Hubbard, A. (2018). Resolving the internal and basal geometry of ice masses using imaging phase-sensitive radar. Journal of Glaciology, 64(246), 649-660.

The IACS-IGS Graham Cogley Award was established in 2019 in memory of Professor Graham Cogley who made substantial and enduring contributions to glaciology. The award recognizes excellence in glaciological research by student scientists. The award is shared between the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) and the International Glaciological Society, with the IACS and IGS giving out the award in alternate years.

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# New study reveals Antarctic ice shelf retreat

A new study led by researchers from Scott Polar Research Institute, with colleagues from Loughborough University and the Geological Survey of Norway, calculates that ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic coast retreated at speeds of up to 50m per day at the end of the last Ice Age - a rate roughly 10 times faster than observed by satellites today.

Using drones, satellites and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles during the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019, our researchers were able to study ice conditions in the Weddell Sea in unprecedented detail. "By examining landforms on the seafloor, we were able to make determinations about how the ice behaved in the past," said Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute Professor Julian Dowdeswell, who was chief scientist on the expedition. "We knew these features were there, but we've never been able to examine them in such great detail before."

Read more …

# Communication at a distance

SPRI PhD Candidate, Premdeep Gill, recently joined the Royal Greenwich Museum as a special guest on their online show, speaking to BBC presenter Helen Czerski on the theme of communication at a distance throughout history.

Prem discussed his use of satellites to track seals and how he uses "seal grime" to connect with a wider audience, and encourage young people from diverse backgrounds to consider polar science and conservation.

The episode is available to watch online and featured on BBC online as part of their "culture in quarantine" programming.

# New paper on subarctic treelines

A new paper, whose co-authors include Dr Gareth Rees, Dr Olga Tutubalina & Zuzana Swirad of the Scott Polar Research Institute, is now available as open access.

The paper, 'Is subarctic forest advance able to keep pace with climate change?' demonstrates that the still widespread assumption that treelines are moving northwards into the arctic tundra at a rate determined by climate change is wrong. The authors discuss that they are moving much more slowly than thought, and climate-change models must consequently be adapted accordingly.

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# SPRI Review 2019

SPRI Review 2019 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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# Sea-floor and sea-ice conditions in the western Weddell Sea, Antarctica, around the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance

A new paper authored by several SPRI researchers has just been published in 'Antarctic Science'.

'Sea-floor and sea-ice conditions in the western Weddell Sea, Antarctica, around the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance', represents part of the research undertaken in preparation for the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019.

The Scott Polar Research Institute was represented in the expedition team and included our Director Professor Julian Dowdeswell who was Head of Science for the expedition, and Friends of SPRI Chair, Dr John Shears, who was Expedition Leader.

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# University of Cambridge buildings closure

In light of recent government announcements, and of recent developments including a growing number of staff members now working from home, the University of Cambridge has now moved into its "red" phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the Scott Polar Research Institute closed its doors on Friday 20th March, for the foreseeable future. Find out what this means in a statement from University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope.

Please check our social media platforms and this website for further updates and news on our re-opening.

Read more …

# Closure of the Polar Museum

Due to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and in the interest of public safety, the Polar Museum will be closed effective immediately until further notice.

The well-being of our visitors, volunteers and staff is very important to us and this decision has not been made lightly. We look forward to welcoming you all back to the Polar Museum very soon.

In the meantime, you can explore our range of online resources, Virtual Shackleton and view our collection on the Polar Museum pages.

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# Quaternary Glaciations - top of the pops!

The Geological Society

Quaternary Glaciations - Extent and Chronology - A Closer Look. Developments in Quaternary Science 15. 1108 pp. published by Elsevier: Amsterdam in 2011, ISBN: 978-0-444-53447-7, edited by Emeritus Professor Philip Gibbard with J. Ehlers and Philip Hughes was the most downloaded e-book from the Geological Society of London's Library in 2019.

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# Antarctic research features on BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Current glaciological research being undertaken by Ian Willis and Alison Banwell as part of a joint US-NSF and UK-NERC funded project featured on a recent edition of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, guest edited by Greta Thunberg. The research investigates the role of surface meltwater movement on the stability of Antarctic Ice Shelves and involves fieldwork on the George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsular from where the SPRI scientists have recently returned. Their work is mentioned as part of a larger report into Antarctic glacier melt and sea level rise, which begins about 47 minutes into the programme.

Read more …

# 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.

Read more …

# 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."

Read more …

# 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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# SPRI Emeritus Professor, Philip Gibbard, awarded the Digby McLaren Medal

Prof. Philip Gibbard (pictured far right) receives the Digby McLaren Medal

Congratulations to SPRI Emeritus Professor Philip Gibbard, who was awarded the Digby McLaren Medal, at the International Commission on Stratigraphy's STRATI 2019 Congress in Milano, Italy on 4th July 2019.

The Medal is awarded to honour a significant body of internationally important contributions to stratigraphy sustained over a number of years. Contributions can be in research (through publication of papers, monographs or books) or in education (through development of influential educational material or resources. It is expected that a major proportion of the work will have been published in an international language.

# Past water flow beneath Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers

A team of researchers at the Scott Polar Research Institute along with collaborators at the British Antarctic Survey, Lamont‑Doherty Earth Observatory, and Victoria University of Wellington have published a paper investigating subglacial water flow beneath Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers in West Antarctica.

The study combines geomorphological mapping and numerical modelling of water flow beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 20,000 years ago. The authors find that water discharged from a system of subglacial lakes carved out huge channels beneath the glaciers over several glacial cycles. The results are reported in the journal The Cryosphere.

The team includes PhD student James Kirkham, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Dr Neil Arnold and Dr Kelly Hogan and Dr Robert Larter at the British Antarctic Survey.

Read more …

# Rapid melting of the world’s largest ice shelf linked to solar heat in the ocean

A study conducted at the Scott Polar Research Institute links melting of the world's largest ice shelf to solar heating of the ocean surface. The findings may have important implications for the stability of ice shelf.

In a study of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, which covers an area roughly the size of France, the team spent several years building up a record of how the north-west sector of this vast ice shelf interacts with the ocean beneath it. Their results, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, show that the ice is melting much more rapidly than previously thought due to inflowing warm water.

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# Glaciers and surface winds in a Himalayan valley

Emily Potter

PhD student, Emily Potter, with supervisors Ian Willis (SPRI), Andrew Orr (BAS) and colleagues have published their latest research in the Journal of Geophysical Research, which has also been featured as an Editors' Highlight in EOS.

The work uses field measurements and a regional climate model to determine the patterns and causes of wind acceleration around the Khumbu Valley, Nepal, and how they change over diurnal cycles, and between the monsoon and dry seasons.

It confirms strong daytime up-valley winds and weak nighttime winds in both seasons, and shows that pressure gradient forces are the dominant cause of wind acceleration, but that turbulence and advection are important too. The forcing terms are highly variable across the valley, and also strongly influenced by the presence of glaciers. When glaciers are removed from the model in the monsoon run, the wind continues much further up the valley, showing how local valley winds might respond to future glacier shrinkage.

This work will help the development of regional climate models in the Hindu-Kush Karakoram Himalaya, which are crucial for predicting future precipitation and glacier melt in the region.

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# Search for Endurance ends

Following a programme of pioneering Antarctic scientific research, and successfully reaching the Endurance wreck site, as plotted 104 years ago by Frank Worsley, the Weddell Sea Expedition team have sadly been forced to conclude the current search for the Endurance.

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of SPRI and Expedition Chief Scientist, said: 'Through the scientific data gathered during the Expedition, we have deepened our knowledge and understanding of Antarctic oceanography and ecosystems, and our observations on the glaciology and geology will play a critical role in our understanding of Antarctic ice shelves and sea ice and, importantly, the changes that are occurring here today.'

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# Surface lakes cause Antarctic ice shelves to 'flex'

Alison Banwell

A team of British and American researchers, co-led by Alison Banwell and Ian Willis at the Scott Polar Research Institute, has measured how much the McMurdo ice shelf in Antarctica flexes in response to the filling and draining of meltwater lakes on its surface. This type of flexing had been hypothesised before and simulated by computer models, but this is the first time the phenomenon has been measured in the field. The results are reported in the journal Nature Communications.

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# Does the north pole still matter?

.Is the North Pole still important, when most of us will never visit it and know almost nothing about it? A new book by Dr Michael Bravo charts the history of the North Pole and finds a place that is both real and imaginary, with fascinating stories to tell.

Read more …

# Polar Educators International Conference

Calling all Polar Educators and Researchers! Registration to take part in the Polar Educators International 2019 Conference is now open. The 4th biennial workshop takes place in Cambridge, at the Scott Polar Research Institute and Christ's College, and will discuss 'Education and Polar Science in Action'. Find out more and book your place.

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# Bridging Binaries: LGBTQ+ tours of the Polar Museum in the News

New LGBTQ+ tours of the Polar Museum have been in the spotlight, along with tours of several other University of Cambridge Museums. The New York Times and The Times have both sent reporters along to find out about the spectrum of identities that exist across time, place and culture, from same-sex behaviour among penguins to the first Pride event to take place in Antarctica.

Read more …

# The Forum: The Top of the World

Dr Michael Bravo appeared on BBC World Service The Forum: The Top of the World discussing the North Pole as a place of history and mythology.

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# Climate change curation project for school students

The Scott Polar Research Institute and Selwyn College Cambridge are excited to announce a unique opportunity for Year 12 Students to curate an exhibition about climate change as part of a project that will run from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th August 2019.

Over five days a group of year 12 students will join the Institute to explore cutting edge polar research with some of the world's leading experts, and work as part of an experienced museum team to plan an exhibition from start to finish. The finished exhibition will go on public display at The Polar Museum from late 2019 into 2020, the Scott Polar Research Institute's centenary year.

Applications are open until 12 noon on 26 April 2019.

Read more …

# Julian Dowdeswell argues for Shackleton on BBC's 'Icons'


Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and Professor of Physical Geography Julian Dowdeswell appeared on the BBC's 'Icons' series last night, making the case for Shackleton as the greatest explorer of the 20th Century. The series seeks to establish the greatest icon of the twentieth century over the course of seven different categories. The results of the explorers category will be announced tonight!

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# Michael Bravo and Kat Austen on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3

Senior Lecturer, Dr Michael Bravo, and Friends of SPRI 2017 Arctic Artist in Residence, Dr Kat Austen, were both panellist on BBC Radio 3's 'Free Thinking' episode about ice.

Catch up with the episode in the BBC iPlayer to hear about centuries-old understandings of the North Pole discussed by Michael Bravo, drawing on his new book - North Pole: Nature and Culture. Kat Austen shares part of her symphony, Matter of the Soul, which features recordings of interviews and audio recorded while Kat was in the Arctic on her Friends of SPRI residency.

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# Nobel Week Dialogue: Water Matters

Scott Polar Research Institute Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, was recently invited to join discussion panels with Nobel Laureates, scientists, experts and policy makers, as part of the Nobel Prize Week of events.

This year's Nobel Week Dialogue event in Stockholm was on the subject of 'Water Matters', and some of the discussions Professor Dowdeswell participated in included 'The Oceans', 'Water & Climate Change' and 'Antarctic Science & Searching for Shackletons Endurance'.

Watch the discussions online.

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# Institute Associate Professor Kevin Edwards awarded the Coppock Research Medal

SPRI Institute Associate Professor Kevin Edwards was awarded the Coppock Research Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, along with Honorary Fellowship of the Society, in a ceremony held in Perth on 21 November.

The Medal is the Society's "highest research-specific award, awarded for an outstanding contribution to geographical knowledge through research and publication" and was presented by Prof. Charles Withers of Edinburgh University, Geographer Royal for Scotland.

In his citation, Prof. Withers stated that the Medal was conferred for "ground-breaking and joined-up contributions to fields such as palynology, archaeology and geography."

# Brexit and the Arctic


Richard Powell is speaking on 30 November 2018 in Copenhagen at the Danish Institute for International Studies about the UK's new 'Defence Arctic Strategy'.

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# New book from Professor Julian Dowdeswell

'The Continent of Antarctica', a new book by SPRI Director, Professor Julian Dowdeswell, and glaciologist Michael Hambrey, is an illustrated account of the Antarctic continent. Covering its physical environment, biology and history, it also examines the future and environmental implications for the rest of the planet. It is available to purchase in the SPRI Shop and was recently reviewed in Nature: International Journal of Science

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# UK announces new Arctic defence strategy

Cambridge geographer Dr. Richard Powell was interviewed by Radio Canada International about the recent announcement of a new British Arctic Defence Strategy.

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# Professor Julian Dowdeswell appointed Academic Trustee of Royal Museums Greenwich

Congratulations to Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of SPRI, who has been appointed by the Prime Minister as an Academic Trustee to Royal Museums Greenwich for the next four years.

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# Ragnhild Dale wins Public Engagement with Research Award

Congratulations to PhD student Ragnhild Dale (SPRI), who has been awarded a Vice Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Award.

Dale was a researcher and assistant director on a three-day staging of a mock trial version of the ground-breaking lawsuit over Arctic oil, where Norwegian environmental organisations Greenpeace and Nature and Youth are suing the Norwegian Government for allegedly allowing unconstitutional oil exploration in the Barents Sea. The project, "Trial of the Century", invited expert witnesses from academia, industry and NGOs to testify in the production in Kirkenes, bringing the drama of the trial directly to the people who live and work in the north.

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# Polar Encounters - SPRI's exhibition of polar art opens today in London

SPRI Art Collection - Pitseolak Ashoona 1969 - winter camp scene

Polar Encounters, an exhibition of 200 years of polar art featuring work from the SPRI art collection and by the Friends of SPRI artists in residence, is open at Bonhams in London.

This free exhibition brings together European and Inuit artworks from the last two centuries to explore the Arctic, and eight of our recent artists in residence have their bold new works on show from both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

The exhibition is open Monday-Friday, 10-4 at Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London from 30 July - 17 August.

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# PhD student Morgan Seag working to improve diversity and inclusion in polar research

(Image on slide from US Navy)

PhD student Morgan Seag is working to improve diversity and inclusion in polar research. She was one of several Cambridge geographers attending POLAR2018 last month, a conference of 2500 researchers, science supporters, and policymakers working on the Arctic, Antarctic and global cryosphere. The conference featured a 300-person luncheon and panel discussion on gender equality, titled "From Entering the Field to Taking the Helm, Women's Perspectives on Polar Research." Morgan sat on the panel of five alongside researchers and institutional leaders from several countries. Panelists explored the accomplishments, challenges, and prospects for women in the field, discussing the experience of women at all career stages and emphasizing the need for greater inclusion of LGBTQ+ researchers, indigenous women, and women of color. The discussion integrated both personal experiences and cutting-edge research to highlight productive paths toward a stronger and more inclusive future for polar research.

Morgan is continuing to work on these issues through her PhD research in the department; as a Council member for the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists; and through international research and policy collaborations.

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# Dr Richard Powell summoned as witness before Environmental Audit Committee

In July 2018, Dr Richard Powell appeared as a witness before the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into the Changing Arctic, to provide expertise in UK Arctic social sciences and humanities and advise on formation of UK Arctic research and policy.

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# The Changing Arctic?

Geographer Richard Powell will appear today, 11 July 2018, as a witness before the Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into the Changing Arctic. The inquiry is assessing the UK Government's Arctic policy, and examining whether the UK, as one of the Arctic's nearest neighbours, should be doing more to protect this vulnerable region. Richard will provide expertise in UK Arctic social sciences and humanities and advise on formation of UK Arctic research and policy.

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# Drs Ian Willis and Alison Banwell awarded Fellowships at the University of Colorado Boulder

Becky Goodsell

Ian Willis and Alison Banwell have been awarded, respectively, a 1-year sabbatical fellowship and a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship to undertake collaborative work with Waleed Abdalati and Michael Willis (no relation!) at the Co-operative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. They will advance their current work investigating the surface hydrology of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the surface hydrology and stability of Antarctic ice shelves.

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# Research Assistant/Associate in Remote Sensing of Forests

Applications are invited for a Research Assistant/ Research Associate to work under the direction of Dr Gareth Rees, for a British Council funded research project mapping the distribution and spatial characteristics of forests in northern Russia, using remote sensing techniques.

The closing date for applications is 25th May 2018.

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# Major research project planned into collapse of the Thwaites Glacier

Dr Poul Christoffersen will co-lead one of eight projects in a new joint UK-US research programme, that is one of the most detailed and extensive examinations of a massive Antarctic glacier ever undertaken. Dr Christoffersen's project, Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME), will investigate how the margins of the Thwaites Glacier drainage basin will evolve and influence ice flow over the coming decades.

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# Professor Julian Dowdeswell elected a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales

Congratulations to Professor Julian Dowdeswell on being elected a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. Fellows to the Society are elected in recognition of academic excellence.

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# Subglacial lakes discovered under Devon Island ice cap

Professor Julian Dowdeswell

A new study of the Devon Island ice cap, led by a team from the University of Alberta, has discovered two subglacial bodies of water. These are the first subglacial lakes to be observed in the Canadian Arctic, and are estimated to cover areas of five and eight square kilometres respectively.

The findings, co-authored by Director of The Scott Polar Research Institute Professor Julian Dowdeswell, have been published in Science Advances

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# Scientific expedition to the Larsen C Ice Shelf

A planned scientific expedition to the Antarctic to visit and study the Larsen C Ice Shelf - and explore the area where Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's ship was last seen - will be led by Professor Julian Dowdeswell next year.

Professor Dowdeswell, Director of the Institute and Professor of Physical Geography, will lead the international Weddell Sea Expedition 2019 next spring. It will bring together leading researchers from the Institute as well as the Nekton Foundation, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the University of Cape Town and the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Professor Dowdeswell explained that the expedition will survey the underside of the iceshelf using underwater submersibles, to ascertain whether conditions leading to the calving of an enormous iceberg from Larsen C in 2017 means that the shelf may collapse: "Iceshelves butress the interior of the Antarctic icesheet, they effectively act to hold back the ice that flows from the interior of the Antarctic to the edge. They are in some senses vulnerable because not only can they lose mass by the production of icebergs at their edge but also because they're floating, beneath they have ocean water flowing in and that ocean water can lead to meltrates at the base of a number of metres per year and this is what's been happening to some areas of Antarctica."

Further coverage also features on BBC News, Telegraph and Independent websites.

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# Department of Geography at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU)


Several staff, postdocs, PhD students and research associates within the Department of Geography and Scott Polar Research Institute will be showcasing their research at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 8-13 April 2018, the largest geosciences meeting in Europe.

Details of the presentations and our research groups are available.

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# Inuit Visions of the Polar World

Dr Michael Bravo will be running an interactive talk, Inuit Visions of the Polar World, at the Heong Gallery, Downing College.

The talk will take place at 6pm, on Thursday 10 May 2018. Please register if you would like to attend.

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# ERC Arctic Cultures Post-docs

Sir Cam

Dr. Richard Powell is recruiting FOUR three-year Postdoctoral Research Associates (PDRAs) to work on the ERC Consolidator Grant project, ARCTIC CULT (Arctic Cultures: Sites of Collection in the Formation of the European and American Northlands) to start in October 2018. Further details are available online. The closing date is 30th April 2018.

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# Inuit Trails

Perry Hastings/Downing College

Dr Michael Bravo's Pan Inuit Trails project, which maps part of the extensive trail network used for Inuit travel across the North American continent, is featured in the Guardian article 'Counter-mapping: cartography that lets the powerless speak'.

You can find out more about the project at

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# Chain reaction of fast-draining lakes poses new risk for Greenland ice sheet

Timo Lieber

A growing network of lakes on the Greenland ice sheet has been found to drain in a chain reaction that speeds up the flow of the ice sheet, threatening its stability.

Researchers from the SPRI and others across the UK, Norway, US and Sweden have used a combination of 3D computer modelling and real-world observations to show the previously unknown, yet profound dynamic consequences tied to a growing number of lakes forming on the Greenland ice sheet.

Read the full paper in Nature Communications.

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# New paper: Controls on rapid supraglacial lake drainage in West Greenland

Andrew Williamson

A team of researchers from the Scott Polar Research Institute have published a new paper investigating the causes of rapid lake-drainage events on the Greenland Ice Sheet. For this, the research team assembled a variety of different remotely sensed datasets to derive a series of controls that might explain why some lakes drain rapidly and others do not. However, among the controls investigated, they were unable to find any statistically significant drivers of the lake-drainage process.

The team includes PhD student Andrew Williamson, Dr Ian Willis, Dr Neil Arnold and Dr Alison Banwell.

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# Piers Vitebsky elected Honorary Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Sakha Republic

Piers Vitebsky, Assistant Director of Research (Retired) at the Scott Polar Research Institute, has been elected an Honorary Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia.

# SPRI MPhil Scholarships

Sir Cam

The deadline for the Debenham Scholarship and the Scott Polar Scholarship is 31 March 2018. Each scholarship is worth £7,614 (2018-19 rate) and will be awarded to the best applicant for the M.Phil. in Polar Studies who is not in receipt of another University award. By applying for the M.Phil. in Polar Studies, you will automatically be entered into the competition for these awards, as long as your application is received by the deadline.

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# AHRC Doctoral studentship: Instruments of scientific governance? Historical geographies of Halley Bay, 1956-present

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded studentship at the University of Cambridge, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Royal Society. The PhD studentship is one of six awards being made by the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with the Science Museums and Archives Consortium. The project is full-time, funded for three years and begins in October 2018. It will be supervised by Dr Richard Powell (Scott Polar Research Institute and Department of Geography, University of Cambridge), Dr Catherine Souch (RGS-IBG) and Keith Moore (Royal Society), with technical training support from Charlotte Connelly (Polar Museum, Cambridge).

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# Professor Julian Dowdeswell awarded 2018 Lyell Medal

The Geological Society

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and Professor of Physical Geography, has been awarded the 2018 Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London for significant contributions to the science through a substantial body of work. The Lyell Medal has been awarded since 1876 and is the Society's highest award for 'soft rock' geology. It was established with a gift from the distinguished 19th Century scientist Charles Lyell who wrote the 'Principles of Geology'.

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# CANCELLED: Studying Arctic Fields

The Launch for Richard Powell's new book, Studying Arctic Fields: Culturers, Practices, and Environmental Sciences will be held at SPRI at 4.30 p.m., Monday 26 February 2018. This event is kindly sponsored by the Independent Social Research Foundation and McGill-Queen's University Press. Please RSVP Jenny Dunstall to attend.

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# New paper on the impact of glaciation on East Anglian Fenland

Modified form in "Pleistocene glaciation of Fenland, England, and its implications for evolution of the region" (2018, Royal Society Open Science- Creators: Simon Price & Philip Stickler

A new paper from Professor Phil Gibbard, "Pleistocene glaciation of Fenland, England, and its implications for evolution of the region", demonstrates for the first time that the form and scale of modern Fenland, East Anglia, is due to glaciation during the late Middle Pleistocene period, around 160,000 years ago.

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# Rescued radar maps reveal Antarctica's past

Dustin Schroeder/Scott Polar Research Institute

An international team of researchers has scanned and digitised two million records held at the Scott Polar Research Institute from pioneering aeroplane radar expeditions that criss-crossed the frozen continent in the 1960s and 1970s. The digitized data extend the record of changes at the bottom of the ice sheet, such as the formation of channels as Antarctica's ice flows, by more than two decades. The work could also help researchers get a better handle on how the ice sheet might respond as global temperatures rise.

Read more in Nature and on Stanford University's website.

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# Postgraduate Engagement Fellowship - apply now

Postgraduate students have until 15th January 2018 to apply to be an Engagement Fellow at the Polar Museum at SPRI. This is a paid opportunity thanks to the generous support of the British Society for the History of Science. Applicants do not need specialist polar or climate knowledge - we are looking for somebody who is enthusiastic about communicating historical ideas about our changing climate. Full training and support will be given.

Further details are available on the British Society for the History of Science website.

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# Invited expert review for the IPCC


Professor Tom Spencer has been invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to act as an Expert Reviewer of pre-release, internal draft material on 'extremes, abrupt changes and managing risks' as part of the IPCC's Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC).

# The Geological Anthropocene born in Burlington House

Geological Society, London

Discussions concerning the recognition and potential definition of a new division of geological time during which humans have become overarchingly influencing natural systems have led to the proposal to define a new time interval, the Anthropocene (see earlier reports on these pages).

The controversy generated in the geological world has been offset by the remarkable interest the concept has initiated in non-geological, and especially in non-scientific fields. The discussions, initiated during meetings of the Geological Society's Stratigraphy Commission, of which Professor Phil Gibbard, Dr Colin Summerhayes, and the other authors are members, has led to worldwide debate. These discussions have also spawned new lines of research, and encouraged inter-disciplinary discussions by members of the department, involving reseachers and students alike. A new report presents the state of these fast evolving discussions developments that have animated the normally tranquil world of stratigraphy.

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# Recruiting now: Polar Museum - Collections Coordinator

The Polar Museum is looking for an organised and enthusiastic museum professional to manage its collection of polar artefacts and artworks.

The Collections Coordinator is responsible for a range of tasks including facilitating collections research, answering external enquiries, undertaking and improving documentation of the Museum's collections, negotiating and administering loans and ensuring that the collections are appropriately stored and displayed. In addition they support the wider activity of the museum as needed.

This is an exciting time to join the Scott Polar Research Institute as we approach our centenary year in 2020. With over 50,000 visitors a year and activities that include exhibitions, events and teaching, work in the Polar Museum team is always varied.

Find out more on our vacancies page.

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# Rising Tides bring innovation prize

Eli Keene

Victoria Herrmann, a PhD student at the Scott Polar Research Institute and a Gates Cambridge Scholar, has won a prestigious US social entrepreneurship prize for a research project on US towns and cities at risk of partial submersion due to climate change.

Victoria's was one of 10 projects to scoop the JM Kaplan Fund Innovation Prize.

Her winning Rising Tides project will create a new online matchmaking platform that connects pro bono experts with climate-affected communities. Whether taking on archaeological work in Alaskan villages or oral histories in Mississippi's historic black communities, the project will seek to safeguard heritage by connecting national expertise to some of the 13 million Americans who stand to be displaced due to rising waters in the coming years. It will initially focus on bringing technical assistance directly to small and medium-sized towns that are geographically remote and socioeconomically vulnerable. By connecting communities with volunteer professionals looking to donate skills - from a one-hour consultation to a fully fledged cultural resources management plan - the project seeks to build social cohesion, preserve historic sites and empower local traditions to withstand climate threats.

It is thought that by the end of this century, at least 414 towns and cities across America will be partially underwater from sea-level rise and accelerating extreme storms. The Rising Tides project will draw on Victoria's experience of working with community champions from Alaska to American Samoa through her America's Eroding Edges project, a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The J.M. Kaplan Fund has provided catalytic funding for projects in their early stages of development in the form of grants. The Prize leverages this legacy of catalytic grant-making in the field of social innovation.

In addition to cash support of $150,000, paid out over three years, plus a $25,000 bank of funds for project expense, the Prize includes capacity-building counsel from experts in organisational development, board cultivation, media coaching and leadership training. The three areas considered for the US prize are the environment, heritage conservation and social justice.

The Fund says: "The J.M.K. Innovation Prize is awarded to projects or ideas that represent a game-changing answer to a clearly identified need; are innovative within the Fund's three funding areas; demonstrate the potential to develop an actionable pilot or prototype with Prize funding; and hold out the promise to benefit multiple individuals, communities, or sectors through a clearly articulated theory of change."

Earlier this year Victoria [2014], who won the 2017 Bill Gates Sr Award and is currently completing her PhD in Polar Studies, was named on this year's Forbes 30under30 list for Law & Policy.

This news article first appeared on the Gates Cambridge website.

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# Living without the Dead: Loss and Redemption in a Jungle Cosmos

Living without the Dead: Loss and Redemption in a Jungle Cosmos is a new book by Piers Vitebsky.

Just one generation ago, the Sora tribe in India lived in a world populated by the spirits of their dead, who spoke to them through shamans in trance. Every day, they negotiated their wellbeing in heated arguments or in quiet reflections on their feelings of love, anger, and guilt. Today, young Sora are rejecting the worldview of their ancestors and switching their allegiance to warring sects of fundamentalist Christianity or Hinduism. Communion with ancestors is banned, sacred sites demolished, and female shamans replaced by male priests, as debate with the dead gives way to prayer to gods. For some, this shift means liberation from jungle spirits through literacy, employment, and democratic politics; others despair of being forgotten after death.

How can a society abandon one understanding of reality so suddenly and see the world in a totally different way? Over forty years, anthropologist Piers Vitebsky has shared the lives of shamans, pastors, ancestors, gods, policemen, missionaries, and alphabet worshippers, seeking explanations from social theory, psychoanalysis, and theology. Living without the Dead lays bare today's crisis of indigenous religions as historical reform brings new fulfillments—but also new torments and uncertainties. From the award-winning author of The Reindeer People, this is a heartbreaking story of the extinction of an irreplaceable world, even while new religious forms come into being.

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# New paper on inland advance of supraglacial lakes in Greenland under climatic warming

A new article by recently graduated undergraduate student Laura Gledhill (Downing College) and Scott Polar Research Institute PhD student Andrew Williamson explores the inland advance of supraglacial lakes in a north-western sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet under recent climatic warming. The paper, published recently in the Annals of Glaciology, is based on Laura's undergraduate dissertation, which Andrew supervised. Many congratulations to them both!

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# Physical Geography / Environmental Science PhD opportunities

Ali Banwell

The list of PhD topics we would like to pursue with interested students has just been launched. The link gives further details. CCRU also has a list of topics. The funding deadline is 4th January 2018, for an October 2018 start. Do get in touch with a prospective supervisor who will help with your application as soon as possible.

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# Department of Geography Postgraduate open day 3rd November

Students and staff will be available to talk about life as a Graduate in the Department of Geography and ongoing Human and Physical Geography study and research. Venue: The Library - Department of Geography, Downing Place, CB2 3EN, 2-4pm

The Scott Polar Research Institute will be open for visits. MPhil and PhD students will be available to talk about life in the department and SPRI Course Director will be available to chat to potential students. Venue: Main Reception, Scott Polar Research Institute, Lensfield Road, CB2 1ER 2-4pm

There will also be a Geography Admissions Talk at 3pm, 3 November, Seminar Room, Department of Geography, CB2 3EN. Speakers will be Dr Emma Mawdsley "Moving on to an MPhil and PhD" and Professor Christine Lane – "Talking and answering questions on Physical Geography Research at Cambridge."

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# New paper in Nature - Seafloor ploughmarks left by icebergs record rapid West Antarctic ice retreat

Matthew Wise, Martin Jakobsson

Thousands of ploughmarks on the Antarctic seafloor, caused by icebergs which broke free from glaciers more than ten thousand years ago, show how part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet retreated rapidly at the end of the last ice age as its margins balanced precariously on sloping ground and became unstable. Today, as the global climate continues to warm, rapid and sustained retreat may be close to happening again, and could trigger runaway ice retreat into the interior of the continent, which in turn would cause sea levels to rise even faster than currently projected.

Matt Wise and Julian Dowdeswell from SPRI, together with scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and Stockholm University investigated imagery of the seafloor of Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. They found that, as seas warmed at the end of the last ice age, Pine Island Glacier retreated to a point where its grounding line – the points where it enters the ocean and starts to float – was perched precariously at the end of a seaward-shallowing submarine slope. It has long been thought that glaciers in this configuration are unstable.

Break up of a floating 'ice shelf' in front of the glacier left tall ice 'cliffs' at its edge. The height of these cliffs made them unstable, triggering the release of thousands of icebergs into Pine Island Bay, and causing the glacier to retreat rapidly until its grounding line reached a restabilising point in shallower water.

Today, as warming waters caused by climate change flow underneath the floating ice shelves in Pine Island Bay, the Antarctic Ice Sheet is once again at risk of losing mass from rapidly retreating glaciers. Significantly, if ice retreat is triggered, there are no relatively shallow points in the ice sheet bed along the course of Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers to prevent possible runaway ice retreat into the interior of West Antarctica. The results are published in the journal Nature.

"Today, the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are grounded in a very precarious position, and major retreat may already be happening, caused primarily by warm waters melting from below the ice shelves that jut out from each glacier into the sea," said Matt Wise of Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute, and the study's first author. "If we remove these buttressing ice shelves, unstable ice thicknesses would cause the grounded West Antarctic Ice Sheet to retreat rapidly again in the future. Since there are no potential restabilising points further upstream to stop any retreat from extending deep into the West Antarctic hinterland, this could cause sea-levels to rise faster than previously projected."

Pine Island Glacier and the neighbouring Thwaites Glacier are responsible for nearly a third of total ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and this contribution has increased greatly over the past 25 years. In addition to basal melt, the two glaciers also lose ice by breaking off, or calving, icebergs into Pine Island Bay.

Today, the icebergs that break off from Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are mostly large table-like blocks, which cause characteristic 'comb-like' ploughmarks as these large multi-keeled icebergs grind along the sea floor. By contrast, during the last ice age, hundreds of comparatively smaller icebergs broke free of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and drifted into Pine Island Bay. These smaller icebergs had a v-shaped structure like the keel of a ship, and left long and deep single scars in the sea floor.

High-resolution imaging techniques, used to investigate the shape and distribution of ploughmarks on the sea floor in Pine Island Bay, allowed the researchers to determine the relative size and drift direction of icebergs in the past. Their analysis showed that these smaller icebergs were released due to a process called marine ice-cliff instability (MICI). More than 12,000 years ago, Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers were grounded on top of a large wedge of sediment, and were buttressed by a floating ice shelf, making them relatively stable even though they rested below sea level.

Eventually, the floating ice shelf in front of the glaciers 'broke up', which caused them to retreat onto land sloping downward from the grounding lines to the interior of the ice sheet. This exposed tall ice 'cliffs' at their margin with an unstable height, and resulted in rapid retreat of the glaciers from marine ice cliff instability between 12,000 and 11,000 years ago. This occurred under climate conditions that were relatively similar to those of today.

Today, the two glaciers are getting ever closer to the point where they may become unstable, resulting once again in rapid ice retreat.

The research has been funded in part by the UK Natural Environment and Research Council (NERC).

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# New exhibit explores recent Greenland fieldwork

Samuel Cook

The Polar Museum at the Scott Polar Institute is currently hosting a temporary exhibition 'Uummannaq: 100 years of exploration in Greenland' featuring fieldwork undertaken by Geography researchers over the summer. Led by Dr Poul Christoffersen the exhibition includes research undertaken by PhD students Samuel Cook and Tom Chudley.

Samuel used a terrestrial radar interferometer to produce a unique record of iceberg calving from which he can calibrate a numerical model. While Tom used an Unmanned Aircraft System ('drone') to produce imagery of the calving ice front and the glacier in ultra high spatial resolution.

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# Win for Trial of the Century

'Trial of the Century', the theatre production which included PhD student Ragnhild Dale as assistant director and researcher, and which was closely linked to her doctoral research, has won the Norwegian Critics Association Theatre Award 2017. The jury praised it as 'one of the most important reference works in recent political Norwegian performing arts'.

The production, which took place in February, staged the upcoming court case over the 23rd licensing round for petroleum in the Norwegian Barents Sea. Ragnhild worked with director Morten Traavik of and Pikene på Broen as co-producers.

# Women in Antarctica: the trouble with heroism

PhD student Morgan Seag writes for Chemistry World on the history of women in Antarctica, and the 'trouble with heroism' as a myth surrounding antarctic study which excluded women until the 1960s and 70s.

Article may be behind paywall.

# Performance of the year nomination for Trial of the Century

Photo credit: Ole-Gunnar Rasmussen

The Norwegian Critics Association has announced that Trial of the Century has been nominated for its 2017 annual Critics Prize. The production, which took place in February, staged the upcoming court case over the 23rd licensing round for petroleum in the Norwegian Barents Sea. PhD student Ragnhild Dale served as assistant director and researcher for the production, which was closely linked to her doctoral research. Ragnhild worked with director Morten Traavik of and Pikene på Broen as co-producers.

Congratulations to all on this prestigious nomination!

# SPRI Library catalogue search now online

We are proud to announce that the Library catalogue of the Scott Polar Research Institute is now available to be searched online. This has been the culmination of many years of data improvements and technical conversion work. The collection will also be added to the main University Library catalogue in 2018.

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# Archive and Picture Library achieve Accredited status

We are delighted to announce that the Institute's Archive and Picture Library have been recognised under the national accreditation scheme.

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# Antarctic ice-shelf break-up

Ian Willis

A paper published this week in the Annals of Glaciology, by an international team including Alison Banwell and Ian Willis, identifies the causes of crack formation and propagation on the McMurdo Ice shelf, Antarctica, where they have recently been undertaking fieldwork. Eventually this rift will result in the calving of an iceberg from the ice shelf, through a similar process to that which enabled the large iceberg to break-off the Larsen C Ice Shelf, a few days ago. As the climate warms it is possible that such ice shelf calving events will become larger and more frequent.

Read more …

# America's eroding edges: stories from the field

Victoria Herrmann

PhD student Victoria Herrmann is documenting her fieldwork exploring the effects of climate change on communities across America in a series of blog posts and articles. Victoria is currently travelling across the US and its territories, interviewing communities directly affected by shoreline erosion and climate change, and recording the impact on their ways of life.

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# Prince Albert II of Monaco becomes Patron of SPRI

We are pleased to announce that HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has agreed to become Patron of the Scott Polar Research Institute. Prince Albert, who has visited both poles and whose great- great-grandfather, Albert I, was a prominent Arctic explorer, has strong ongoing interests in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Prince Albert said of his new role, "I am delighted to become Patron of the Scott Polar Research Institute and to support their important research and heritage activities relating to the Arctic and Antarctic, especially in the context of the continuing environmental changes affecting these sensitive parts of the global climate system".

Prince Albert has visited the SPRI on several previous occasions and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has also supported the research work of the Institute.

# New Cambridge research tracks changes to supraglacial lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet


A new paper by a team at the Scott Polar Research Institute presents a novel method for tracking changes to individual supraglacial lakes in West Greenland using MODIS satellite imagery. The method developed is a Fully Automated Supraglacial lake Tracking ("FAST") algorithm that tracks changes to individual lake areas and volumes over successive images. This builds on previous research by calculating supraglacial lake volumes as well as areas, and can be applied to large areas of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The FAST algorithm is being used in ongoing research into Greenland Ice Sheet hydrology. The team comprises PhD student Andrew Williamson, University Senior Lecturer Dr Neil Arnold, Leverhulme/Newton Trust Research Fellow Dr Alison Banwell, and University Senior Lecturer Dr Ian Willis.

Andrew G. Williamson, Neil S. Arnold, Alison F. Banwell, Ian C. Willis, A Fully Automated Supraglacial lake area and volume Tracking ("FAST") algorithm: Development and application using MODIS imagery of West Greenland, Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 196, July 2017, Pages 113-133.

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# SPRI Review 2016

SPRI Review 2016 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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# Water on Antarctic Ice Shelves

Ian Willis

Alison Banwell and Ian Willis, who have recently returned from Antarctica studying the effects of meltwater on the flexure and stability of ice shelves, have been commenting about two adjacent studies that have just been published in Nature. They've been commenting in Nature, The Independent, The Atlantic, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Climate Central.

# New book: Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms: Modern, Quaternary and Ancient

Professor of Physical Geography and Director of the Scott Polar Instititute, Julian Dowdeswell, has co-edited a new Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms.

The Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms presents a comprehensive series of contributions by leading researchers from many countries that describe, discuss and illustrate landforms on the high latitude, glacier-influenced seafloor. Included are submarine glacial landforms from modern, Quaternary and ancient glacimarine environments.

The development of high-resolution imaging technologies has allowed detailed sea-floor mapping at water depths of tens to thousands of metres across continental margins and 3-D seismic imagery enables buried landforms to be identified. The Atlas contains an extensive methods section detailing the techniques used to image and understand the seafloor.

The 183 contributions are organised by: a) individual landforms in 2-page contributions, b) assemblages of landforms in 4-page chapters, and c) whole fjord-shelf-slope systems in 8-page contributions.

The 640-page Atlas is published online in the Lyell Collection by the Geological Society of London as Memoir 46 and also as a hardback volume.

The Atlas was launched at the Geological Society in London on Monday 23rd January 2017.

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# Event: Geography and neo-vitalism

Matthew Gandy and Michael Bravo are holding a half-day workshop on the theme of "Geography and neo-vitalism" on Wednesday 23rd November. The neo-vitalist turn in geography raises many interesting questions across the discipline including connections with the geo-humanities and new fields of interdisciplinary scholarship. In recent years the works of Henri Bergson, Hans Driesch, and other thinkers have gained influence in debates over non-human agency, post-human subjectivities, and new concepts of nature. In this workshop we wish to bring together staff and graduate students with an interest in contemporary theoretical
debates for this half-day event.

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# Gordon Hamilton

We are deeply saddened by the news that Dr Gordon Hamilton died while working in the field in Antarctica earlier this month. Gordon was a PhD student at SPRI in the 1990s working with Julian Dowdeswell, now our Director, on surging Svalbard glaciers. Our thoughts are with all those close to Gordon. More information is available on the University of Maine website where Gordon was a professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences.

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# SPRI Review 2015

SPRI Review 2015 is now available online. SPRI Review is the Annual Report issued by SPRI, giving information on the Institute's activities over the past year.

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# Visions of the Great White South exhibition to open in London

In August 2016 "Visions of the Great White South", an exhibition to be held at Bonhams will reunite the iconic photography of Herbert Ponting with the evocative watercolours of Edward Wilson over a century after the two men first dreamt up their plan for a joint exhibition. The British Antarctic Expedition, better known by the name of its ship the Terra Nova, took place from 1910-1913. Captain Robert Falcon Scott appointed Dr Edward Wilson, a close friend and a fine watercolourist, as his chief scientist. He also invited camera artist Herbert Ponting to join the expedition as official photographer, in a bold move in an era when high quality photography required great skill and careful attention in ordinary circumstances, let alone in the extreme environment of the Antarctic. Both Wilson and Ponting captured expedition life as well as keeping a visual record of scientific phenomena that the crew were studying.

Alongside the historic artworks, visitors will have the opportunity to see contemporary interpretations of the 'great white south'. For several years the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute, with the support of Bonhams and the Royal Navy, have run an artist in residence scheme which sends an artist to the Antarctic on board the icebreaker HMS Protector. Artists including Captain Scott's grand-daughter Daphila Scott and renowned wildlife artist Darren Rees will exhibit their responses to the frozen wilds of Antarctica.

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# Conference: The Historical Antarctic Sealing Industry: history, archaeology, heritage, site and artefact conservation, biodynamics and geopolitics

This multidisciplinary conference will provide a forum for academics and heritage specialists to communicate and develop their research and expertise concerning the historical Antarctic sealing industry.

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# Debenham Scholarship

The Scott Polar Research Institute is very pleased to be able to offer a Debenham Scholarship to one outstanding applicant for the M.Phil. in Polar Studies. This scholarship is worth £7,176 (2016-17 rate). The award is generously funded by a bequest from the late Barbara Debenham in memory of Frank Debenham, one of the members of Scott's 1910-1913 (Terra Nova) Expedition to the Antarctic, and founder and first Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute.

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# New exhibition of the historic Antarctic photographs taken by Herbert Ponting opens onboard polar tour ships

SPRI, and Salto-Ulbeek publishers, are pleased to announce a major new partnership with the Canadian polar tour operator, One Ocean Expeditions, to exhibit limited edition platinum prints of the historic photographs taken by Herbert Ponting during Captain Scott's British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913.

The exhibition of the Ponting prints opened on board the One Ocean Expeditions polar tour vessels, Akademik Ioffe and Akademik Sergei Vavilov, on 4 January 2016. The prints will be displayed on the ships until March 2018.

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# Physical Geography / Environmental Science PhD Opportunities 2016

Physical Geography / Environmental Science PhD topics to start October 2016 are advertised on the Cambridge Earth System Science Doctoral Training Programme website. Members of the Geography Department / SPRI have projects advertised across all three themes of Climate, Biology and Solid Earth. Further general information about the application procedure is available.

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# Friends of SPRI Fundraiser

Andy Rouse

Join multi award-winning professional wildlife photographer Andy Rouse who will take us on an inspirational journey through his favourite wildlife experiences of his illustrious career. Expect polar bears, surfing penguins and dancing tigers amongst many others. It's a
fun talk packed with good humour, but with a strong conservation theme throughout.
It will be an inspirational talk for all. You will also hear from Darren Rees, who has been painting for over twenty years and is one of our most decorated and highly respected wildlife artists and this year's Artist in Residence for FoSPRI.

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# Open Cambridge event in SPRI Library - Friday 11th September

Explore behind the scenes at the Library at the Scott Polar Research Institute. The Library at the Scott Polar Research Institute is known as the place to find research on Polar Regions, but beyond the science and history lurks the fiction these factual records have inspired. For Open Cambridge 2015, there will be polar-based fiction from all genres on display all day with library staff on hand to answer any questions. there will also be a talk given by Library Assistant, Martin French, on the subject of Polar Fiction. For more information on this and other Open Cambridge 2015 events and for details on how to book, please visit the Open Cambridge website.

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# After the Iron curtain: Poor parenting and state intervention in cross cultural perspective: a one-day workshop

This workshop, on Wednesday June 10th 2015, is concerned with the issue of 'poor' parenting in cross-cultural perspective, and particularly a UK comparison with post-Soviet countries. Taken at face value, the concept of 'poor' parenting may look very different in countries with different political, ideological and socio-economic structures such as liberal democracies of the UK and the US, yet one study has revealed some (tentative) similarities in child welfare practices. This workshop problematizes the concept of 'poor' parenting by making it an analytical concept and placing it in a comparative context, asking three main questions: (1) What constitutes 'poor' parenting in a particular country? (2) What are the underlying concepts of childhood and parenthood this relies on? (3) What are the similarities in child welfare practices, and how do we account for these?

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# Visit SPRI Prints

The Scott Polar Research Institute is pleased to offer high quality prints from our unique collection. Images are available in various sizes, framed or unframed. Visit

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# The Polar Museums Network: Connecting polar collections around the world

SPRI is pleased to announce the launch of the Polar Museums Network (PMN), a new initiative which brings together polar museums and collections around the world to strengthen and spread the knowledge of polar history, science and exploration. The PMN will foster greater cooperation and collaboration amongst polar museums in the key areas of exhibitions, research, outreach and learning, documentation and conservation. The Polar Museum at SPRI is one of the six founding members of the network.

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# Perspectives on the Nepal earthquake

Bhuwan Maharjan

Typical Nepal mountain hazards were made worse by the recent earthquake. Senior Lecturer Dr Ian Willis, and PhD student Evan Miles contemplate the fate of people in a remote part of the country, where they have been doing research for the past two years.

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# TalkScience: Scientists in Extreme Environments

Michael Bravo

Why do scientists work in extreme environments, and is it worth the financial and human cost? A discussion at The British Library on 25th March 2015.

Scientists travel to the tops of mountains, the polar regions and even outer space in order to conduct experiments, make observations and set up instruments. What have we learned from doing science in extreme environments? Is what we gain worth the high financial, and sometimes human, cost? Does exploring these places also make science a vehicle through which geopolitics is played out? Do we need to explore for the sake of exploration? University of Cambridge geographer and historian of science Dr Michael Bravo joined a panel discussion chaired by science journalist Dr Gabrielle Walker, along with Director of the British Antarctic Survey Professor Jane Francis, UCL anaesthetist and space medicine expert Dr Kevin Fong.

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# Captain Scott's treasurer commemorated: plaque to be unveiled to Sir Edgar Speyer

Captain Scott went down in history as a fearless explorer who faced death in the Antarctic with dignity and valour. But the man who helped bankroll his expeditions has for a century been dismissed as a German collaborator in World War I, suspected of signalling naval secrets to German submarines from his country-house on the Norfolk coast. Just over a century after Scott's final expedition, a memorial plaque to Sir Edgar Speyer (1862-1932) is to be unveiled this autumn at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

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# Scott Polar Research Institute awarded £500,000 by Heritage Lottery Fund

The Scott Polar Research Institute, part of the Department of Geography, has been awarded £500,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Collecting Cultures funding programme. This money has been awarded for By Endurance We Conquer: the Shackleton Project, which will unite the Scott Polar Research Institute's Archive, Museum, Library and Picture Library in a targeted purchasing strategy designed to develop its collection of material relating to Sir Ernest Shackleton.

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# Captain Scott's 'lost' photographic negatives

The Polar Museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, is proud to announce that it has successfully raised the £275,000 needed to be able to purchase the 113 photographic negatives, thanks to public support. The negatives represent an extraordinary visual record of Scott's last expedition, but were in danger of being sold abroad. Read more ...

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# New study finds Greenland Ice Sheet more vulnerable to climate change

Sam Doyle

Research by Dr. Marion Bougamont and Dr. Poul Christoffersen at the Scott Polar Research Institute shows that the massive ice sheet covering most of Greenland is more vulnerable to climate change than earlier estimates have suggested. In addition to assessing the impact of increased levels of surface melting on ice flow, the new research also takes into account the role that soft, spongy ground beneath the ice sheet plays in its changing dynamics. The study concludes that there is a limit on how much water can be stored in the soft ground beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet, and this makes it sensitive to climate change as well as to increased frequency of short-lived, but extreme, meteorological events including rainfall and heat waves. The findings are published 29 September in the journal Nature Communications.

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# Friends of SPRI Artists in Antarctica Programme

The application process for the Artists in Antarctica programme for the 2014/15 Antarctic summer seasons is now open. The deadline for applications is Friday 15 August 2014. Interviews will be held on 4 September 2014 in Cambridge.

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# Shane McCorristine collaborates on Antarctic Pavilion at Venice Biennale

Hugh Broughton, 'Life in a Freezer'

Dr Shane McCorristine has collaborated with artists and architects on the Antarctic Pavilion at the 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture. Commissioned by the Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev and curated by Nadim Samman, "Antarctopia" is the first time that Antarctica has been represented at this prestigious cultural event. The Pavilion interrogates the architectural relationship humans have with Antarctica, looking at heroic pasts, techno-scientific presents, and imagined futures. Shane contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue entitled "'What shall we call it?' Performing home in Antarctica". The Biennale runs from June 7 - November 23 2014.

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# Pan-Inuit Trails Atlas Launched at SPRI

Michael Bravo

A new digital resource brings together centuries of cultural knowledge for the first time, showing that networks of trails over snow and sea ice, seemingly unconnected to the untrained eye, in fact span a continent – and that the Inuit have long-occupied one of the most resource-rich and contested areas on the planet. The material has been digitised and organised geospatially, with trails mapped out over satellite imagery using global positioning systems. It constitutes the first attempt to map the ancient hubs and networks that have long-existed in a part of the world frequently and wrongly depicted as 'empty': as though an unclaimed stretch of vacant space.

"To the untutored eye, these trails may seem arbitrary and indistinguishable from surrounding landscapes. But for Inuit, the subtle features and contours are etched into their narratives and story-telling traditions with extraordinary precision," said Dr Michael Bravo from the Scott Polar Research Institute, part of the Department of Geography. "This atlas is a first step in making visible some of the most important tracks and trails spanning the North American continent from one end to the other. Essentially the trails and the atlas reduce the topology of the Arctic, revealing it to be a smaller, richer, and more intimate world."

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# Active groundwater reservoir found beneath the Antarctic ice sheet

Photo: Poul Christoffersen

Glaciologists at SPRI have identified a large subglacial groundwater reservoir beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The reservoir was found to be connected with a hydrological network in five large drainage basins, and to feed nutrients to subglacial lakes where living organisms may exist. Poul Christoffersen, the lead author of the study, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, talks to Planet Earth Online.

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# Dr Charles Swithinbank

The Institute is sorry to learn of the death of Dr Charles Swithinbank (Emeritus Associate of the SPRI). Charles died peacefully on the morning of 27th May 2014. Many will be familiar with Charles' exceptional achievements concerning science and exploration of the polar regions, especially in Antarctica, which spanned six decades. Charles was an excellent and supportive colleague and a friend to the Institute over many years. There will be a family funeral, followed by a memorial service in due course. An obituary has been published in the Telegraph. His funeral will be at 11.15 on Monday 16th June, in the West Chapel of Cambridge Crematorium.

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# The Randolph Glacier Inventory 3.2

Journal of Glaciology

Second year PhD student Evan Miles is one of fourteen lead authors on a recent paper documenting a new and complete inventory of all glaciers across the globe. The full authorship includes 74 scientists from 18 countries. The inventory has been derived from careful analysis of satellite imagery and contains 198,000 glaciers covering an area totaling 726,800 km2. The inventory has been crucial in helping to derive recent estimates of glacier mass balance and volume changes and their contribution to recent sea level rise, as summarized in the latest (2013) IPCC report. (Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 60, No. 221, 2014

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# Julian Dowdeswell awarded the IASC Medal for 2014

Julian Dowdeswell has been awarded the IASC Medal for 2014 by the International Arctic Science Committee 'as a World leader in the field of Arctic glaciology'. The committee also highlighted Prof. Dowdeswell's outreach and communication activities which have been instrumental for public understanding of Arctic change. The full citation for the award is on the IASC website.

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# Cambridge in Davos

World Economic Forum

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been at the World Economic Forum in Davos (22-25 January 2014), delivering an invited presentation on 'Glaciers, Ice Sheets and Environmental Change'. He is part of a Cambridge contingent that includes the Vice-Chancellor, Lord Martin Rees and Jon Hutton. They each spoke in a session on 'Cambridge Ideas' at the Forum. Julian has given interviews on the changing polar regions and their global implications in Davos and more information about Cambridge in Davos is available.

A video of Julian's interview in Davos is available online below. A 3 minute piece on radio-echo sounding on Radio 4's Inside Science was also made available on 23rd January.

Cambridge in Davos
The Vice-Chancellor; Lord Rees; Dr. Jon Hutton; Prof. Julian Dowdeswell.

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# Departmental Seminar: Professor Alison Blunt on 'At Home in a Diaspora City: Urban Domesticities and Domestic Urbanism'


On Thursday 23rd of January, the Department of Geography welcomes Professor Alison Blunt (Queen Mary, University of London) who will be speaking on 'At Home in a Diaspora City: Urban Domesticities and Domestic Urbanism'. The seminar will begin at 4.30pm in the Small Lecture Theatre, with drinks to follow. Co hosted with the University's ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. All are welcome!

# Lakes discovered beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet using radar

This study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reports the discovery using airborne radar of two subglacial lakes 800 metres below the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The two lakes are each roughly 8 to 10 square-kilometres in area, and at one point may have been up to three times larger than their current size.

Subglacial lakes are likely to influence the flow of the ice sheet which, in turn, impacts global sea-level change. The discovery of the lakes in Greenland will help researchers to understand how the ice will respond to changing environmental conditions.

The work was undertaken by Steve Palmer, Julian Dowdeswell, Poul Christoffersen and Toby Benham at the Institute, in collaboration with colleagues at the universities of Texas and Bristol.

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# Departmental Seminar Series opens with 'Expecting the Best and the Worst from Synthetic Biology’

The Departmental Seminar Series 2013-2014 convenes its first seminar on Oct. 10th and welcomes Dr. Claire Marris (King's College London) who will be speaking on 'Expecting the Best and the Worst from Synthetic Biology'.

The seminar will be held from 16:15-18:00 in the Department's Small Lecture Theatre, with drinks to follow. All are welcome.

# Dr Ian Willis speaks at the Cambridge Alumni Festival 2013

Alison Banwell

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

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# Glaciologists at SPRI to explore Antarctic source of sea level rise

Photo: Poul Christoffersen

Researchers at ten British universities, the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre are teaming up in a mission that aims to discover what is causing the recent rapid loss of ice from the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica. The research project, which is funded by the National Environmental Research Council and known as iSTAR, is important for understanding sea-level rise, a global phenomenon which has major implications for coastal cities and environments around the world. The Cambridge University scientists contributing to the project are Dr Marion Bougamont, Dr Poul Christoffersen and Professor Liz Morris. All three are glaciologists at the Scott Polar Research Institute.

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# Last letter of Captain Scott finally revealed in full - 101 years on

Scott Polar Research Institute

A letter written by the dying Captain Scott - one of only two remaining in private hands - can be revealed in full for the first time after being acquired by the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

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# Icy debate on BBC’s ‘The Forum’

Poul Christoffersen can be heard on the BBC World Service after his recent return from Antarctica, to debate "Ice" with fellow scientist Mary Albert and visual artist Camille Seaman. The debate is a journey into the wilderness of polar regions and the panelists explain how they are confronted by impacts from climate change.

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# Water under the ice

Photo by Poul Christoffersen

Craig Stewart, PhD student and recipient of the Scott Centenary Scholarship, talks to The New Zealand Herald about floating ice shelves in a warming climate. The interview took place in a remote camp on the Ross Ice Shelf, and during the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's visit to Antarctica. Craig's PhD research at the Scott Polar Research Institute aims to understand how ocean currents affect the Ross Ice Shelf, a large (487,000 km2) floating part of the Antarctic ice sheet.

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# The journals of William Hooper: Inuit ethnographer and evangelical

The Arctic humanities are a broad and developing field, encompassing subjects from the social impact of environmental change to the use of indigenous mapping techniques in western geographical knowledge. Taking a broad historical and circumpolar perspective, this seminar series explores the encounters and engagements between different actors, communities, and systems of knowledge in the Arctic. How do historical encounters and passages continue to shape issues of contemporary governance in the polar regions? This seminar series showcases the interdisciplinary strengths of the Scott Polar Research Institute while also engaging with the research of visiting and invited scholars.

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# Snow Lab

Snow Lab is a scientific project to study snow, which needs lots of volunteers to help take measurements. It is being run by Dr Gareth Rees, who is based at the Scott Polar Research Institute. At present, Snow Lab is only looking for volunteers from schools in Cambridgeshire although in future we hope to run it for the whole of the UK. So if you are at a school in Cambridgeshire, and there's snow on the ground (or might be), and you think you might like to get involved, please have a look at the Snow Lab website.

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# Physical Principles of Remote Sensing

The third edition of Gareth Rees's book Physical Principles of Remote Sensing has been published by Cambridge University Press. The first edition appeared in 1990, when the field of Remote Sensing was much younger. This new and enlarged edition brings the book up to date and introduces a number of new elements including online materials.

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# The lost photographs of Captain Scott

The support of the Heritage Lottery Fund will ensure that the 109 photographs taken by Scott himself on the British Antarctic (Terra Nova) Expedition can be acquired by the Scott Polar Research Institute. Read more ...

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# The Scott Polar Research Institute and the Times World Atlas (13th ed.) Map of Greenland

Greenland Ice Sheet

SPRI scientists have been involved in discussions with HarperCollins during the production and review of a new insert to the Atlas, made public on 25th January 2012. We are pleased to have been able to contribute positively to this process, and that the end result of this controversy has been ultimately productive, leading to the publication by HarperCollins of a much improved map of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

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# Scientists raise concerns regarding erroneous reporting of Greenland ice cover

Scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), part of the Department of Geography, have raised concerns regarding what they believe are erroneous claims of a 15% decrease in the permanent ice cover of Greenland in just 12 years.

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# Professor Julian Dowdeswell awarded Louis Agassiz Meda

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been awarded the Louis Agassiz Medal of the European Geosciences Union. The medal was established to honour outstanding scientists whose work is related to Cryospheric Sciences. The medal will be presented during the General Assembly of the Union in Vienna in April 2011.

# Greenland's glaciers double in speed

The contribution of Greenland to global sea level change and the mapping of previously unknown basins and mountains beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet are highlighted in a new film released by Cambridge University this morning.

Cambridge University glaciologist Professor Julian Dowdeswell has spent three years of his life in the polar regions.

As Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute (part of the Department of Geography) at the University of Cambridge, this film follows him to Greenland and the Antarctic as his research reveals the challenges we all face from climate change.

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# Evelyn Landerer awarded Frederick Soddy Award

This year's Frederick Soddy Award, administered by the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers, has been awarded to Evelyn Landerer of the Scott Polar Research Institute (part of the Department of Geography), to fund her PhD fieldwork on changing experiences of space and movement in Siberia.

# Katya Shipigina awarded Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society Student Prize

Katya Shipigina, PhD student at the Scott Polar Research Institute, has been awarded the Student Prize of the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society for her MPhil thesis

# Colloquium: The Inhabited Arctic

Colloquium: The Inhabited Arctic at SPRI (17th June)

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# Freeze Frame - historic polar images at SPRI

Freeze Frame - historic polar images at SPRI

# 2007 Ashby Prize

The Scott Polar Research Institute and Dept. of Geography are pleased to announce that Dr. Richard Powell, a former Ph.D. student (supervised by Dr. M. T. Bravo and Prof. K. S. Richards) and ESRC Research Fellow at the Scott Polar Research Institute/Geography, has been awarded the 2007 Ashby Prize by the editors of Environment and Planning 'A' in recognition of the exceptional quality of his paper on the geography of experimental field practices in the Arctic. The research for the paper was carried out as part of his doctoral work and subsequently submitted for publication. The full reference for the paper is Richard C. Powell (2007) 'The rigours of an Arctic experiment': the precarious authority of field practices in the Canadian High Arctic, 1958-1970 Environment and Planning A 39(8) 1794-1811.

# Julian Dowdeswell awarded Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society

Professor Julian Dowdeswell has been awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for 2008. This is one of the two most prestigious medals awarded by the RGS.

# Christopher Rimmer awarded British Hydrological Society prize

Christopher Rimmer has been awarded second prize (cash and certificate as 'runner up') by the British Hydrological Society for his dissertation on 'The changing climate of Swiss hydroelectric power production: An analysis of the Haut Glacier D'Arolla meltwater discharge characteristics'.

Autobiography of Richard Laws, past Director of BAS and former President of SCAR

The Autobiography of Richard Laws, past Director of BAS and former President of SCAR, is available online.

Scott Centenary 29th March 2012 - St Paul's Cathedral


Text of the Bishop of London's sermon from the Scott Remembrance Service at St. Paul's Cathedral is now available.

Dr Shane McCorristine elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Spectres of the Self

Dr Shane McCorristine, Government of Ireland CARA Post-Doctoral Fellow, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Election to fellowship status is conferred on those who have made 'an original contribution to historical scholarship in the form of significant published work'.

His monograph, 'Spectres of the Self: Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-seeing in England, 1750-1920' (Cambridge University Press) appeared in 2010.

Dow prize for Alison Banwell

Alison Banwell

Alison Banwell was selected as final winner, for Cambridge, of the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge, for her work on glacier melt and runoff in Greenland and the Himalayas. Supervised by Dr Ian Willis and Dr Neil Arnold, Alison's research uses both field data and models to investigate how glaciers are melting as the Earth's temperature rises.

"I found it incredibly hard to summarise my research in only 500 words, followed by a short presentation," Alison said, "but I am thrilled to have won." The prize will allow her to extend her work with local scientists and communities in the Nepal Himalaya, seeking ways to manage water and raise living standards with hydro-electric power.

Read more on the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) website …

The Scott Polar Research Institute and the Times World Atlas (13th ed.) Map of Greenland

In September 2011, scientists at SPRI were closely involved (along with international colleagues) in countering claims about the scale of changes to the area of the Greenland Ice Sheet made by HarperCollins in their press release accompanying the launch of the 13th edition of the Times World Atlas.

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