skip to primary navigation skip to content

Russian Information Transfer Programme (RITP) 2000-2005

Russian Information Transfer Programme (RITP) 2000-2005

Helping international science and commerce benefit from Russian cold regions expertise

RITP was a collaboration initiated by Peter Williams between the University of Cambridge; Faculty of Geology, Moscow State University; Russian Academy of Sciences; Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom; and GSL Network, Ottawa, Canada. Its aim was to make Russian scientific literature on the Arctic and permafrost regions more widely available to a non-Russian speaking readership. Its main achievements were:

  • Publication of English language version of Kriosfera Zemli (Earth's Cryosphere)
  • English language version of "Geocryological map of Russia and neighbouring republics" - 16-sheet map - joint publication between Scott Polar Research Institute, Moscow State University and Carlton University, 1999 (2nd ed. 2003)
  • Liaison and publicity for Conference "Permafrost and Oil & Gas Extraction" in Tyumen', Russia , 22-29 May 2004


Approximately 50% of Arctic land lies in Russia. When this is combined with the extensive continental shelves lying to the north of Russia, it is clear that a large proportion of the world's potential resources is located here. Such resources require special expertise to exploit them and though the Russian cold region scientific and technical knowledge is unrivalled, little of this currently reaches the West. Today, the free flow of information is obstructed not by politics but by language, and by a publications structure which means that much significant research is only reported in small circulation Russian-language journals and monographs, virtually unobtainable throughout much of Russia, let alone elsewhere.

The special role of the Scott Polar Research Institute

Throughout the Cold War, the Scott Polar Research Institute was one of very few places where Russian and Western scientists met. As Russian scientists routinely visited the Institute, the Library made use of the contacts established to build up a network of arrangements with research institutes carrying out work in the Russian Arctic and in Antarctica, whereby their publications were received in exchange for the Institute's publications. Today, the Institute's researchers are primed to collect publications during their fieldwork in the Russian Arctic. Literally hundreds of publications have been brought back in recent years, many of them published in remote centres, and unobtainable even in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Professor Peter J. Williams and Isabella M. T. Warren