Fieldwork carried out by members of Brathay's early Exploration Group in Norway, Iceland and Canada made an important contribution towards our understanding of climate change.

The exploits of the Brathay Exploration Group began in the Lakes and soon moved to Norway. At first they studied glaciers (past and present) for their effects on the landscape. Glacial retreat was clearly a sign that the world was getting warmer, but for many years this was thought of as a natural cycle, albeit one that took place over centuries. Sometimes the world got warmer. At other times the world got colder.

Now, scientists, again many of them from Cambridge, began to realise that we, as humans, might be playing a part in these changes. Some Exploration Group members and leaders followed this trail, as individuals, far and wide. One distinguished member was part of the first crossing of Antarctica; another became head of the British Antarctic Survey. Nearer home we had leading members involved in the Nature Conservancy, the Countryside Commission and the Royal Geographical Society.

As for the B.E.G. expeditions, their role was lowly but vital. They measured glacial retreat! This was a challenging, rough and sometimes messy job. My first film: Expedition to Norway, in 1958, seeks to bring our work to life. The Group’s diligently written up field work in the Lakes, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada all helped to build up a picture of irrefutable climate change. And this was one factor which led, in 1997, to the Group being awarded the Special Medal of the R.G.S.

So where does this leave us? Part Three in this saga (unwritten) will not be for the B.E.G. but for all of us. Doing something about climate change is now a role for everybody.

Learn more about the early work of Brathay Exploration Group by viewing the links opposite. The first link shows a film, narrated by Sir David Attenborough and the second link tells more about the origins of the Group.

There is also a book: Brathay Exploring, by Brian Ware.