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Department of Geography


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# COP27 and the era of loss and damage: from periphery to core

Final year PhD student Friederike Hartz attended the COP27 negotiations in Sharm el Sheikh in November. Here in this post for the Oxford University Politics Blog, Freddie provides a historical perspetive on the rise of the 'loss and damage' agenda, explaining how what was once regarded as a problem of the periphery, loss and damage has now become a core concern in international climate negotiations.

# 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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# Launch of RGS Report on Law and Geography

Alex Jeffrey

An Royal Geographical Society Report was launched today examining how geographical ideas impact legal processes. Co-authored by Prof. Alex Jeffrey, the report draws on surveys and interviews with geographers across the UK to explore the often-hidden role of geographical knowledge in impacting legal processes. A key goal of the report is to make visible these endeavours, promote the importance of geography to public audiences, and to learn from geographers' experiences to provide better support and training for geographers in the future.

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# Unravelling processes behind tree-ring formation

Annemarie Eckes-Shephard

Tree rings are a well-known feature of temperate and boreal species, but how these are formed is poorly understood. Tree rings are not only useful for determining the age of trees, but also contain critical information about past climates and represent a major sink of atmospheric carbon. Professor Andrew Friend and colleagues investigated the mechanisms responsible for the structure of tree rings using a new model that incorporates processes such as the influence of daylength, temperature, and the distribution of sugars across the growing wood.

The results, published in Nature Communications, overturn previous understanding and suggest a key role for the gradient in sugar concentration from the phloem (which transports sugars to the wood from leaves) to each cell, where cell-wall growth occurs. This work should greatly increase our ability to predict how future tree growth will respond to climate change and rising CO2, as well as improve our understanding of past climates.

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# 100 years of Australian Coral Reef Science; the Cambridge Connections

Photo: C. Maurice Yonge (by permission, National Library of Australia PIC/11204/332)

100 years of Australian coral reef science was celebrated at a special centenary meeting of the Australian Coral Reef Society in Brisbane, Australia, 25-27 November 2022. The Cambridge Coastal Research Unit's Tom Spencer gave the opening keynote address 'The Great Barrier Reef Committee and the making of modern coral reef science' at the Queensland Museum.

Tom showed how early Anglo-Australian collaborations led to the 1928-29 Great Barrier Reef Expedition (leader: Maurice Yonge, Zoology Cambridge; Head of Geographical Section: Alfred Steers, Geography, Cambridge). The Expedition's emphasis on the relationships between reef growth and environment, and the critical importance of their study in the field, effectively set the template for much of modern coral reef science. An accompanying Museum exhibition included the original Expedition dive helmet, used for some of the earliest studies of the variation of coral growth with water depth.

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# Flood risk futures and a new modelling tool

Most coastal flood risk assessments are over-simplified and only a small number of possible scenarios are considered – not enough to build in the uncertainties of the climate changes we face. Now a new digital tool, developed by the Department's Cambridge Coastal Research Unit with researchers at the consulting engineers Arup and the National Oceanography Centre, allows the consideration of the economic impact of tens of thousands of potential scenarios of rising seas and mitigation activities. Applied to flood risk in the city of Hull, UK east coast, it's the first time the full scope of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sea-level rise projections can be seen in an interactive way.

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# RGS-IBG Prize for an Undergraduate Dissertation

Congratulations to Gabriella Vides-Gold (Emmanuel, 2019) on a prize-winning undergraduate dissertation. 'Visceral Temporality: (Not) Eating, Embodiment and Disordered Time' was chosen as the winning dissertation in the national competition run by the Royal Geographical Society's Food Geographies Research Group.

Gaby's dissertation was praised for its care and sensitivity, for its methodological innovation, and for its ethical rigour. The judges considered her work to be a thoughtful, well-written contribution to the geographies of embodied time and eating disorders. Very well done to Gaby!

# COP15: UN and Cambridge sign agreement to bolster conservation

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity secretariat and the University of Cambridge signed a Memorandum of Understanding on day two of COP15, which recognises that the CCI Masters in Conservation Leadership course hosted by the Department of Geography plays a crucial role in conservation capacity building.

The Masters in Conservation Leadership team have been working towards this agreement for several years and are delighted to now finalise the agreement, enabling a cohesive approach to building the leadership capacity needed to create a diverse world in which nature and society thrive.

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# A Critical Assessment of the IPCC

Published today, and edited by Kari de Pryck and Mike Hulme, from Cambridge University Press is 'A Critical Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change'. This is first ever book-length analysis of a knowledge institution that sits close to the heart of climate change science, policy and politics. It brings together 30 social scientists from around the world whose contributions examine the governance, practices, products, participants, and influence of the institution, drawing particularly upon the insights of science and technology studies (STS) and political science. It is available fully open-access from CUP.

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# Birds and biodiversity in Chennai

Matthew Gandy

Matthew Gandy has published an article in Environment and Planning E on disappearing wetlands and the threat to migratory birds in Chennai entitled "Chennai flyways: birds, biodiversity, and ecological decay". The article introduces the concept of ecological decay to explore multiple processes of habitat destruction that unsettle existing conceptions of urban nature.

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# Matthew Gandy on the BBC World Service speaking on moths and biodiversity

Professor Matthew Gandy is talking about moths and biodiversity on the BBC World Service on Thursday 10th November at 10.00 (the programme is repeated at the weekend and also available as a podcast).

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# Companies' 'deforestation-free' supply chain pledges have barely impacted forest clearance in the Amazon

Greenpeace / Alberto Cesar Araújo

More companies must make and implement zero-deforestation supply chain commitments in order to significantly reduce deforestation and protect diverse ecosystems, say researchers. Corporate pledges not to buy soybeans produced on land deforested after 2006 have reduced tree clearance in the Brazilian Amazon by just 1.6%, a protected area barely the size of Oxfordshire.

The findings, made by tracing traders' soy supplies back to their source, are published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The work involved a team including Professor Rachael Garrett and Florian Gollnow from the Department.

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# 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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# Dr Maan Barua wins a 2022 Philip Leverhulme Prize

Congratulations to Dr Maan Barua who is one of five geography recipients in the UK of a 2022 Philip Leverhulme Prize. These Prizes offer the winners £100,000 of research funds over a 3-year period and Maan's research will further his exploration of the relationships between critical political economy and posthumanism, working on the afterlives of mines and metabolic economies more broadly. Maan says ... "I am truly delighted to hear this news. The Leverhulme Prize will allow me to explore new directions in geography and the wider social sciences. I am keen to develop a geography that is inventive. I would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for this generous gesture, and the University of Cambridge, the Department of Geography and my colleagues for their support".

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# Retirement of Professor Ash Amin

Philip Howell

To mark Professor Ash Amin's retirement* (*an event which was quickly renamed a 'renaissance' given his ongoing commitments and engagements), the Department of Geography recently hosted a discussion on space, place, and biopolitics.

We celebrated Professor Amin's great contribution to economic and urban geography, to critical theory, and to a politics of hope and justice. We were very fortunate to hear four thoughtful and moving contributions from scholars supervised and influenced by Professor Amin: Maria Hagan, Michele Lancione, Lisa Richaud, and Tatiana Thieme (pictured above with Professor Amin). Professor Amin also went on to discuss his career and interests in a wide-ranging conversation with Maan Barua and Philip Howell.

The Department wishes Ash and Lynne all the best for the future.

# 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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# Posse Scholars at the Department of Geography

Earlier in the year, the University was pleased to announce a new partnership between the School of Physical Sciences and The Posse Foundation, the Foundation's first UK based collaboration. The partnership was established to offer young people from the USA from under-represented backgrounds the opportunity to pursue postgraduate study at Cambridge. The Department of Geography was chosen to host the first Posse Scholar, who would receive a fully-funded studentship to join one of the Department's one year MPhil programmes.

The Posse Foundation currently partners with 64 US colleges and universities each year, which together have awarded £1.3 billion in scholarships to more than 10,000 students since 1989. Posse Scholars are selected for their academic promise and outstanding leadership potential, and the Department of Geography welcomed the opportunity to admit talented students who will contribute to the vibrant life of the Department.

The first Posse Scholar will join the Department in October 2022 as part of the new cohort for the MPhil in Anthropocene Studies. She will be a member of St Edmund's College and joins fourteen other students from six countries who will focus their studies around the provocative and contested idea of 'the Anthropocene'.

"I joined the Posse community back in 2018 when I became part of the Los Angeles Posse cohort at Dickinson College, and it is such an honor to now come to Cambridge as a Posse student. I am so grateful for the friends and mentors who helped make this experience possible and continue to support and uplift me." - Cecilia Ribordy, Posse Scholar 2022-23.

For those interested in studying at Cambridge in future, the partnership will offer a further Posse Studentship for 2023 entry. To be considered for the studentship, applicants will need to apply by the deadline of the 1st December. There are many other opportunities for support available to promising applicants; the Gates US funding competition offers scholarships to candidates who demonstrate a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others - the deadline to be considered for these scholarships is the 12th October. The Cambridge Trust works with partners worldwide and currently offers around 500 scholarships a year to the most outstanding students. Applicants will need to apply by the deadline of the 1st December in order to be considered by the Cambridge Trust.

# 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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# New members of staff join the Department

With only one week to go before the start of term, we're delighted to welcome two new members of staff to the Department.

Rachael Garrett – Moran Professor of Conservation and Development

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to take up the Moran Professorship in the Department of Geography and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative to pursue my passions at the intersection of conservation and development in such a rich interdisciplinary community. I am delighted to spend the coming years working alongside some of the world's best critical geographers, political economists and ecologists, historians, and conservation biologists whose work all offers answers to the questions that motivate me from different viewpoints. My move to Cambridge with my husband, two kids, and dog, comes after spending three years in Switzerland as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at ETH Zürich. Prior to joining ETH Zürich, I was an Assistant Professor at Boston University and spent time at Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia University.

Liam Saddington - Teaching Associate in Human Geography

I am excited to join the Department of Geography as a Teaching Associate in Human Geography. Since September 2021 I have been building on my doctoral research through a postdoctoral research fellowship that has involved a consideration of the broader and more contentious role of the UK in the Pacific. Through the "Living with Global Change" paper, I am looking forward to seeing how the undergraduates engage with my work on small island states to think more broadly about questions of climate justice, globalisation and equity in the 21st century.

Prior to joining the Department, I was a Career Development Lecturer at Jesus College, Oxford and the Course Director for the Nature, Society and Environmental Governance programme at the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford.

# World Weather Attribution study on flooding in Pakistan

The World Weather Attribution study on flooding in Pakistan, co-authored by Ayesha Siddiqi, finds that the increased intensity of rainfall, particularly in southern Pakistan, over August was a consequence of climate change. The disaster, however, was the product of a long history of structural inequality, centralised power structures and slow environmental degradation in the region.

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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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# Prof Lemanski's COVID-19 article in top 10 downloads

Prof Charlotte Lemanski's 2021 co-authored paper on the inequalities of privileged capacity to transform life in response to COVID-19 in South Africa was the 10th most downloaded paper in the Environment and Urbanization journal between 2017 and 2021.

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# Ecology and memory in Berlin

Matthew Gandy has just published a new article on ecology and memory in Berlin based on a long-term study of one site revealing different processes of urban change.

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# Into the Inferno ranked second amongst volcano films

Into the Inferno, co-directed by Professor Clive Oppenheimer, has been ranked second in this list of "the most epic, exploding-mountain movies ever made".

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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).

# Britain is crumbling into the sea – but does it matter?

"Sea level rise is a massive inter-generational problem: our children and our grandchildren should not be the victims of poorly informed and short-termist decisions made now" says Tom Spencer, arguing for long-term strategic planning at the coast and contributing to the debate on what to do about coastal erosion, in The Telegraph , 25th June 2022.

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# Academic promotions

The Department is delighted by the success of colleagues who have been promoted in the current Academic Career Pathways exercise. The announcement has just been released in the Reporter.

Professor Emma Mawdsley has been promoted to Professor (Grade 12) and Dr Neil Arnold, Dr Michael Bravo, Dr Mia Gray, Dr David Nally, Dr Chris Sandbrook and Dr Gareth Rees have all been promoted to Professor, from October 2022.

This is a great tribute to their tremendous contributions to our collective endeavours, as well as recognition of the respect they command and the esteem in which they are held.

# Food resources and challenges - two new videos

Dr Catherine Oliver has been working with Time for Geography - the open-access, dedicated video platform for geography and geoscience education - to create two new videos on food resources and challenges.

From the Time for Geography website -

Ending hunger and ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, is a global challenge. In working to address this, the geography of our food has changed a lot in recent history, with the development of new methods of food production, complex food supply chains and changing customer demands and expectations. In these two videos, we team up with geographers Dr Christopher Turner, Dr Catherine Oliver and Dr Kim Ward, to explore these changes, their impacts and challenges.

Food in the UK: Changing food production and demand

Challenges of global food supply chains

# Undergraduate Open Days

The Department will be taking part in the 2022 Cambridge Open Days for prospective applicants from Year 12 (or equivalent) and mature applicants (aged 21 or over), together with their parents or supporters, to help them learn more about the University.

On Thursday 7 July and Friday 8 July we will be open to anyone who would like to visit; you will be able to meet staff and students, explore the physical geography Laboratory and enjoy displays of current and former students' work in the Library. We will be open 9:30 to 4:30 each day.

In addition, as this year's event is hybrid, you will also be able to watch a taster lecture and a talk introducing the course online between 4 July – 17 July via the open day platform.

To attend the Open Days (either in person or online) you'll need to book - find out more and access the booking page on the University's website.

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# Professor Mark Carey public lecture

We are delighted that Professor Mark Carey as Distinguished International Visitor to the Department of Geography will be giving a public lecture Icebergs and Oil in the North Atlantic, Reframing Human Relationships with Ice on Wednesday 8 June at 2:30pm in the Large Lecture Theatre. Please circulate this invitation and the attached poster widely.

Since the 1970s, oil companies off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador have been drilling for oil right in the middle of Iceberg Alley. To ensure uninterrupted oil flows, and to make the North Atlantic Ocean safer for capitalism, they have monitored, mapped, moved, blasted, and towed Arctic icebergs that drift into their ocean 'frontier'. At the same time, widely circulating environmental narratives have turned icebergs into unpredictable enemies. Ice in this story, then, becomes less an icon of the climate crisis and more an agent of the Anthropocene.

Mark Carey is Professor of Environmental Studies and Geography, as well as Director of the Environmental Studies Program, at the University of Oregon, USA. His research addresses environmental justice issues related to climate change, glaciers, and water in the Andes and Arctic. He has co-authored several IPCC chapters and won the Elinor Melville Book Award, the Leopold-Hidy article prize, and the King Albert Mountain Award for lifetime contributions to mountain conservation and peoples. He currently runs the Glacier Lab for the Study of Ice and Society, where he prioritizes collaboration with students.

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# 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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# REF 2021

The results from the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) have highlighted the excellent research being undertaken at the Department. The REF is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

96% of Cambridge's overall submissions under the most recent exercise have been rated as 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'. 50.8% of outputs submitted by the Department were awarded the highest rating of 4* overall, meaning that they were world leading. The Department was also recognised for its outstanding research environment which enables its researchers to flourish to their full potential.

The Department is delighted with this recognition of research excellence, and with the strength of research being undertaken in Geography across the United Kingdom. These results reflect a subject that is thriving intellectually, and making important contributions to the major challenges facing our planet and societies.

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# New report assesses global anti-deforestation measures

A major new scientific assessment has evaluated the world's progress on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The report analyses the past 10 years of REDD+ implementation – a global action plan to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation primarily in tropical and sub-tropical regions – with respect to forest governance, carbon measurements and effects on biodiversity and livelihoods.

One of the lead authors is Professor Bhaskar Vira, Head of the Department of Geography. He writes: "This report is being launched at a very important moment, and feeds directly into international discussions on climate change and biodiversity. There is an urgent focus on the role of land use and forests as part of our transitions towards a net zero future, and on the contributions that forests can make to biodiversity and livelihoods.

Image credit: Deforestation, by crustmania

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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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# Hannah White's new book on the future of Parliamentary democracy in Britain

Many congratulations to Hannah White (Selwyn, 1997; Jesus, 2000) on the publication of her book, Held in Contempt: What's wrong with the House of Commons? (Manchester University Press, 2022).

The topic could hardly be more timely, and if you want to know how British government works, or doesn't, how it has been viewed by the British public in the years of Brexit, Covid-19, and beyond - and also how it might be saved from terminal decline, this is the book for you.

Hannah was awarded an OBE in 2020 for her services to the constitution, and has worked extensively in Parliament since taking her PhD in Geography. She is currently Deputy Director of the Institute for Government.

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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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# Geographer Chris Mason appointed BBC political editor

Congratulations to Cambridge geographer Chris Mason (Christ's 1998), who takes over as BBC political editor in May. This is a position central to British cultural life, as well as a prominent role in the media. It carries significant challenges and responsibilities, and we wish Chris all the best in his new post!

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# Professor Sir Tony Wrigley FBA (17 Aug 1931 – 25 Feb 2022)

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Professor Sir Tony Wrigley.

A leading scholar in a number of different social science disciplines and President of the British Academy, his first academic post was in the Geography Department and in 1964 he founded, with Peter Laslett, The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure and transformed knowledge of British population in the pre-industrial era. He remained actively involved in Campop throughout his career and into his retirement, and we will miss his gentle presence at coffee and his kindly encouragement as well as his considerable intellectual contributions.

A full obituary is available.

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# Natura urbana - new book by Matthew Gandy now out

Matthew Gandy has just published his new book Natura urbana: ecological constellations in urban space with the MIT Press.

There will be an "author meets critics" session at the virtual AAG on Friday 25th February with Julian Agyemen (Tufts University), Dawn Day Biehler (University of Maryland), Marion Ernwein (Open University), and Stephanie Wakefield (Life University).

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# 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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# First SCLA Fund projects announced

The first three Sansom Conservation Leadership Alumni (SCLA) Fund projects have been announced.

The SCLA Fund was established with the generosity of Robert Sansom to support high impact conservation projects undertaken by alumni from the Masters in Conservation Leadership. 2021-22 was the inaugural year, and proposed projects were based in over 20 countries with a particular focus on Africa and South America, as well as some with global application. From these 17 projects, three were awarded funding by a Selection Panel of individuals from the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and the Alumni Network.

Course Director, Dr Chris Sandbrook, said 'This dedicated fund allows us to be able to support our alumni lead in conservation after graduation. I am so excited to see these projects flourish and I am extremely grateful to Robert Sansom for providing this generous support.'

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# Unravelling the glacial history of eastern England - The Paper Trail podcast


The Paper Trail is a series of interviews with people who published a paper in the Netherlands Journal of Geosciences. We ask them to tell us a bit about the background to their research, the relevance to science and society and just how it was to write the piece!

In this episode, Phil Gibbard talks to journal editor Henk Kombrink about the Pleistocene glacial history of eastern England and how to date the multiple glacial advances that took place over time. Phil has spent a long career working on glaciations across England and further afield and is known for collaborating with researchers on the Continent in an attempt to develop a holistic view of the Pleistocene geological history of the North Sea region. Phil also touches on the history of the Fenland in eastern England, how the current landscape was formed and deformed and the influence of bedrock geology onto glacial advance.

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# Phil Gibbard on the Anthropocene

Mike Sarginson 2021

Phil Gibbard, Emeritus Professor of Quaternary Palaeoenvironments and Secretary General of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), is a founding member of the Anthropocene Working Group tasked by the ICS to examine the status, hierarchical level, and definition of the Anthropocene as a potential new formal division of the Geological Time Scale.

As he explains in this podcast, no consensus on the Anthropocene has been reached, and it remains controversial as to whether there is even a need for such an epoch at all.

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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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# Cambridge to offer studentships to Posse scholars

Posse Foundation

The University of Cambridge has become the first Higher Education institution outside of the USA to partner with the Posse Foundation, offering graduate studentships to young people from under-represented backgrounds.

This offers a fully-funded studentship (fees and maintenance) for a Posse student accepted into a full-time MPhil programme in the Department of Geography.

Professor Bhaskar Vira, Head of the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge: "This partnership has the potential to transform lives. Posse awards are made on the basis of merit. Through this affiliation, the Department will admit talented students who will both benefit from and contribute to Cambridge's vibrant community. We're looking forward to meeting the first Cambridge Posse Scholar."

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# 'Afterlives of a PhD Thesis'

This reflective essay - recently published in the journal Area -- answers the question: in what ways does a PhD thesis live on beyond the time when it can only be thought of as "work in progress"?

Mike Hulme develops an answer to this question along four dimensions – the material, instrumental, epistemic, and personal afterlives of a PhD thesis. While a PhD thesis can be understood as having a variety of afterlives, those that matter the most are perhaps also those that are less easily recognised.

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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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# Cambridge Geography alumnus and former staff member on Radio 4's In Our Time

University of Nottingham

Cambridge Geography alumnus and former staff member Dr David Beckingham is on Radio 4's In Our Time programme today, 3rd February 2022. David discusses his research on the temperance movement in the UK in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

David completed some of this research on alcohol regulation whilst working in Cambridge and it featured in the Part IB Citizenship, Cities and Civil Society paper. David is now Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Nottingham.

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# UK plants flowering a month earlier due to climate change

Climate change is causing plants in the UK to flower a month earlier on average, which could have profound consequences for wildlife, agriculture and gardeners.

Using a citizen science database with records going back to the mid-18th century, a research team, involving members of the Department Ulf Büntgen, Alma Piermattei, Paul Krusic, and Alan Crivellaro, and led by the University of Cambridge, has found that the effects of climate change are causing plants in the UK to flower one month earlier under recent global warming.

They found that the average first flowering date from 1987 to 2019 is a full month earlier than the average first flowering date from 1753 to 1986. The same period coincides with accelerating global warming caused by human activities. The results are reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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