How is Antarctica Changing and Why Should We Care?

Last week I enjoyed an Inaugural lecture by Professor Martin Siegert of Imperial College. Inaugural Lectures are a big deal:

Imperial's Inaugural Lecture series provides a platform to showcase and celebrate the College's new professors. The inaugural lecture provides official recognition and celebration of the academic’s promotion to professor. A number of guests are invited to attend and students, other staff, and the general public may also attend the lecture. Inaugural lectures are preceded by tea and cakes for invited guests and often followed by a drinks reception, buffet or dinner again for invited guests.

Tea and cakes... I love being English.

Martin spoke brilliantly on how Antarctica is changing to an audience of about 150 people. For a crash course in "where we are now" I would say it is a must watch.

Martin gave an historical overview of the discovery of Antarctica, taking in some oddities such as the Antarctic snow cruiser on the way, before explaining where we are now in the science and mapping of this awesome continent.

If you know anything about Professor Siegert's contribution to Antarctic Science you will be perhaps surprised at how modest he is about his own wide ranging contribution. For example as well as being an author on one of the key science papers which identified and characterised the subglacial Lake Vostok, he was also the leader of the Lake Ellsworth project. In giving a great overview Martin does not give a "then I did this" style lecture.

I was there because along with Professor Jane Francis (Director of the British Antarctic Survey), I had been asked to give a Vote of thanks at the end.

Imperial were kind enough to send through some instructions about what that meant:

The vote of thanks is delivered at the end of the lecture by an appropriate figure, often someone who has had an important influence on the career of the Professor delivering the lecture. The vote of thanks should highlight some of the key points made in the lecture and perhaps some highlights from the academic’s career. The vote of thanks will immediately follow the lecture, should take approximately 5 minutes, and should echo the tone of the event.

Reading that I thought it was a bit funny "Someone who has had an important influence on the career of the Professor" - the fact is Martin has, and is having an important influence on all our careers.

I was an honour, and at the end of Martin's lecture you'll get to both Jane's and my attempt to provide those Votes of Thanks.

It was a great night and excellent celebration of a world class polar scientist. Imperial College many thanks for my invitation.