The work of glaciologist Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute, is the focus of This Icy World, the latest film in the University’s Cambridge Ideas series. A frequent visitor to both the Arctic and Antarctic, Dowdeswell’s research has found that the glaciers around Greenland are the fastest flowing in the world.
He has spent a total of more than three years in the polar regions as part of an team of international scientists, using radar systems pioneered in Cambridge. “The numbers of icebergs released into the seas around Greenland is increasing. We need to know just how fast these changes are taking place. Things are changing very rapidly here because the Arctic is the most sensitive part of the global climate system. Over the coming century, temperatures are likely to rise at double the global average here.” says Professor Dowdeswell.
“Glacier and ice-sheet change is a reality at both poles. The ice is thinning and retreating and that means water is flowing back into the global ocean. Today, sea level is rising 3mm per year; over the coming century, sea level is likely to rise by up to about 1m and it’s actually that rise – with the worst storm waves you can imagine – that could cause real damage. In those circumstances, sea defences can be breached and low lying areas of the world can be flooded. That has serious implications for humankind.”