Peter Nienow - Polar Medal 2017



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Professor Peter William Nienow, MA (Cantab), PhD (Cantab), was awarded a Polar Medal in 2017 'for outstanding achievement and service to the United Kingdom in the field of polar research' as a glaciologist specialising in glacier hydrology, ice-dynamics and ice mass response to climate change.


Professor Nienow is a glaciologist specialising in how glaciers and ice sheets respond to climate change. His research in and passion for the Arctic began in 1995 with a visit to remote Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic, with its population of just 150 people on an island almost the size of  Britain. Since 2004, he has been on over 10 expeditions to the Greenland Ice Sheet; firstly to undertake fieldwork to help calibrate the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite and more recently, to improve our understanding of the links between ice melt, ocean circulation and how ice masses will respond in a warming world.

During the two decades that he has been working in the Arctic, the ice masses there have been losing ice at an increasing rate as a result of global warming, which is amplified in the Arctic regions. Professor Nienow’s work is focussed on improving our understanding of the processes that are driving this ice mass loss and in enhancing our ability to predict future ice volume and thus sea-level change.

Professor Nienow said: “I am very honoured to be awarded the Polar Medal, which is in reality the result of the wonderful support that I have received over many years from numerous colleagues, and especially my PhD students and post-docs. It makes those times spent holed up in a tent enduring blizzards at -35ºC on the Greenland Ice Sheet worthwhile. The medal will also inspire my continued efforts in researching the Arctic region as it undergoes a period of intense change”. 

See: Scientist wins royal award for work in Arctic

See: Research by Peter Nienow