Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 5°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Glemsford: On the brink of a cool discovery

09:44 11 December 2012

Prof Martin Siegert in Antarctica preparing for the drilling session on Friday

Prof Martin Siegert in Antarctica preparing for the drilling session on Friday

BAS

WHILE the family of pioneering glaciologist Martin Siegert face temperatures hovering around freezing in their home county of Suffolk, the 45-year-old professor of geosciences is battling a chilly –25C in Antarctica.

shares

The former Sudbury Upper School student from Glemsford is the principal investigator on a ground-breaking scientific mission which has been described as one of the “most exciting and ambitious” explorations of our time.

After three years preparation and 16 years research, a team headed by Prof Siegert is in Antarctica poised to carry out landmark research, drilling through 3km of solid ice into subglacial Lake Ellsworth.

The aim of the mission, which is scheduled to reach a climax on Friday, is to search for life forms in the water below and to sift through lake-bed sediments for clues that could provide invaluable information about former climates.

Last night, his brother Peter Siegert, who lives in Sudbury, told the EADT: “From the mid-90s Martin started looking into underground lakes when no-one else was doing that kind of research. Lots of data had been collated but hadn’t been put together. Martin spent time mapping out the Antarctic region and discovered there are thousands of underground lakes there.

“The main problem that no-one had solved before was how to access the water under several kilometres of ice.”

As a result of his research, a team from the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre created a titanium water-sampling probe and a sediment corer, which will be lowered down through a borehole cut though 3km of ice by a specially made hot-water drill. When they break through the ice, they will have just 24 hours to take a sample from the lake before the borehole freezes over.

Prof Siegert’s mother Kath, of Little Waldingfield, near Sudbury, said despite her son’s world-class achievements, his feet remained firmly on the ground. She added: “Martin wasn’t particularly academic until he reached upper school and he didn’t really have a clear idea of what he wanted to do when he left. He is a shining example of what can be achieved with an ordinary education and upbringing. The wonderful thing is that he is not in the least bit ‘nerdy’ or a boffin. He is lovely to talk to because he puts everything in simple terms and makes everything interesting.”

She said Prof Siegert had suffered a setback in his last year at Reading University when he lost his father, Dave, very suddenly. However, he went on to study for a PhD at Cambridge and is now Professor of Geosciences at the University of Bristol.

His family could not be more proud, Mrs Siegert said, adding: “There are elements of risk involved in this mission but we try not to dwell on those – instead we try to concentrate on the scientific activity. We take great pride in what he’s doing and what he has achieved. It has been strange to see him on the TV being heralded as a great scientist and professor, when he is just Martin to us.”

Peter Siegert added: “You can imagine that throughout the last few years, Martin has had a plan to do this mission and it has been a long time coming. My mum and sister, and Martin’s wife Maggie are amazingly proud and we all think it’s fantastic to see him getting the recognition he deserves.”

From Antarctica, Prof Siegert, who credits his family with giving him the inspiration to succeed, said: “For the first time we are standing at the threshold of making new discoveries about a part of our planet that has never been explored in this way.

“Finding life in a lake that could have been isolated for up to half a million years is an exciting prospect. I feel hugely proud of everyone involved in the [Lake Ellsworth] consortium – to lead such a programme is a genuine and unique privilege.”

shares

0 comments

Jessica Howard at Norwich Crown Court for the sentencing of rapist Clive Howard (no relation).
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

An Essex woman who was raped in a car park has described how an attack by a serial sexual predator has made it “impossible to enjoy moments of happiness” with memories of the incident darkening “every piece of joy” she has.

Will winnings be counted as well as ballot papers?

A prospective UKIP MP has offered his Conservative rival a bet on the general election result – as internal party polling suggests a UKIP surge in north Essex.

Two men attended the property in a lane off Bildeston Road, Little Finborough and claimed they were there to carry out home repairs.

An elderly woman was targeted in a distraction burglary at her home in a Suffolk village, police have said.

The inside of a cannabis factory, which was found at Ardleigh last year

A suspected burglar has been arrested after police found a large-scale cannabis factory in Hadleigh.

The Stowmarket carnival procession through the town last year.

The first details of this year’s Stowmarket Carnival have been unveiled.

Russell Osman

A former Ipswich Town and England international footballer will be lining up alongside his son for the London Marathon this Sunday, raising more than £2,000 for charity.

Ipswich has been described as a

Voters in Ipswich are crucial in the battle for Downing Street according to a new report which describes the town as one of 12 “Kingmaker” seats that will determine who becomes the next prime minister.

An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesman (AGA) said the fault has now been fixed after it was earlier reported that disruption could last until 10am. (Stock photo).

Train services between Ipswich and Felixstowe have returned to normal after a signalling fault at Trimley caused cancellations this morning.

British Transport Police (BTP) said paramedics were called to the incident, which is being treated as non-suspicious, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

A man was fatally hit by a train near Ipswich last night.

Shaun Webber has been jailed for more than four years after stabbing his brother multiple times in an alleyway

An Ipswich man who stabbed his brother multiple times in an alleyway after he made disparaging remarks about their mother has been jailed for four years and six weeks.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages