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Edinburgh scientist wins royal award for Arctic research

Professor Pete Nienow will be given the Polar Medal for his work on glaciers.

By STV News

Published 23 Jan 2017.

A scientist will join the ranks of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott when he is given a distinguished royal recognition.

Pete Nienow, of Edinburgh University, will be given the royally-approved Polar Medal for his work on Arctic glaciers.

The geoscientist has spent more than two decades measuring the effect of climate change on glaciers.

The Polar Medal, first given to members of Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition, recognises explorers and scientists who have endured hardships and advanced understanding of the polar regions.

Professor Nienow, 51, first began researching the Arctic in 1995 with a visit to the remote Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic.

Since 2004 he has been more than ten expeditions to the Greenland Ice Sheet, including work to calibrate the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite.

Global warming is causing the Arctic regions to lose their ice mass at an increasing rate, and professor Nienow's work focusses on improving our understanding of the process.

He 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-doctoral researchers.

"It makes those times spent holed up in a tent enduring blizzards at -35C 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."

Sir Edmund Hillary is among other previous recipients of the Polar Medal, an accolade which is approved by the queen.

He will be given the medal during a special investiture ceremony to be held at a future date.