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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. 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.

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# 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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# 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 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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