UEA academic honoured for outstanding contribution to Antarctic science

Published by  Communications

On 3rd Dec 2020

A researcher at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has been recognised for making an outstanding contribution to Antarctic science by having a glacier named after her.

The Heywood Glacier on the Antarctic Peninsula is named after Karen Heywood, Professor of Physical Oceanography at UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences. It is one of 28 new place names announced today by the Government of the British Antarctic Territory to mark 200 years since the discovery of the Antarctic continent.

These place names honour those who have made an exceptional contribution to furthering the understanding, protection and management of Antarctica over the last 50 years, and whose achievements warrant highlighting alongside those of the early explorers.

Prof Heywood has led six oceanographic research cruises to Antarctica since 1995, including Pine Island Bay, the Weddell Sea and the Scotia Sea. She has also pioneered the use of autonomous ocean gliders in the Antarctic for understanding the processes of ocean, ice and atmosphere interaction.

The Heywood Glacier - 72°45’S, 61°45’W - is about 18 km long and 3 km wide, flowing north from the Wegener Range, Palmer Land, to the west of Heezen Glacier, to join Maury Glacier. 

The name continues an established naming theme of oceanographers in the area and is available for use on all maps and charts and in all publications.

Commenting on the news, Prof Heywood said: “It’s such an honour to have an Antarctic glacier named after me, I am thrilled! Antarctica is close to my heart, and it has been a great privilege to be able to go there to undertake oceanographic discovery and research. 

“I love the idea that someone in years to come might look at a map and see my name, or even visit the Heywood Glacier. Let’s hope that climate change doesn’t mean the glacier disappears!”

Prof Heywood was awarded the Challenger Medal from the Challenger Society for Marine Science in 2016, is President of the Ocean Sciences Division of the European Geosciences Union (2016-2021), and was made a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2019. She is also currently editor of the Journal of Physical Oceanography (2012-21). 

Other recipients of place names announced today include: Prof Dame Jane Francis, the current and first female, Director of the British Antarctic Survey; explorer and polar radio operator Lady Virginia Twistleton-Fiennes (1947-2004), late wife of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes; and Alistair Fothergill, head of the BBC Natural History Unit 1992-1998, who worked on programmes such as Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and Frozen Planet.

The UK Committee for Antarctic Place-Names provides advice on place naming in the British Antarctic Territory, using agreed international principles and procedures. Features are identified where naming is necessary for scientific, logistical or management purposes.  

Names generally comprise a generic term, which describes the feature being named, and a specific name, which can be descriptive, themed on Antarctic history, science or culture, or after persons who have made a significant and sustained contribution to Antarctic science, or other notable service relating to Antarctica.

A new social media campaign to promote Antarctic place names is also launched today @AntarcticNames on Twitter and Instagram, showcasing some of the stories behind them and encouraging those who work and study on unnamed glaciers, mountains and coastal sites to get in touch, so features can be named. 

The full list of new place names can be found here.

Heywood Glacier Map credit: British Antarctic Survey

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