North Pole sign in melting ice and meltwater

On Thin Ice: RPS Science Photographer of the Year winners unveiled

The photography competition announcements are coming thick and fast. We bring you the Royal Photographic Society's winners of their prestigious Science Photographer of the Year Competition

Simon Brown’s painstakingly constructed image of a shipwreck has won the 2020 Royal Photographic Society Science Photographer of the Year Competition, which has just been announced.

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The winner of the Climate Change category is a thought-provoking image by Sue Flood of the North Pole marker leaning over as the ice arounds it begins to melt.

The Young Science Photographer of the Year was won by Katy Appleton, who is 12, and clearly has a bright photographic future ahead of her, as does the young winner of the climate change category Raymond Zhang (11).

The four winning images were due to be exhibited at the Manchester Science Festival 2021, but due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, this gallery will now form part of the Festival’s online exhibition.

We wanted to share with you the winners and some of our favourites from this year’s RPS competition.

If you enjoy this gallery, why not take a look at some of our other featured photos:

Winner – General Science Category – Orthophoto of SS Thistlegorm

The wreck of SS Thistlegorm, a ship sunk in the Red Sea in 1941, in an image derived from 15,005 frames. Each was adjusted to give a
The wreck of SS Thistlegorm, a ship sunk in the Red Sea in 1941, in an image derived from 15,005 frames. Each was adjusted to give a “straight down” view, before being tagged with GPS data and merged with the others. This ship is a well-known recreational dive site (divers at lower right), and is slowly becoming part of the local coral reef.
Simon Brown/RPS SPotY

Winner – Climate Change Category – North Pole Underwater

North Pole sign in melting ice and meltwater
A signpost depicting the geographic North Pole at 90 degrees north latitude placed on sea ice largely covered with water. Each year the ice cover over the Arctic declines, a direct result of changing global climates.
Sue Flood/RPS SPotY

Winner – Young Science Photographer – Rainbow Shadow Selfie

Sunlight casts a spectrum on a wall having passed through a prism. The photographer cast her own shadow on the wall to let the spectrum shine more clearly.
Sunlight casts a spectrum on a wall having passed through a prism. The photographer cast her own shadow on the wall to let the spectrum shine more clearly. Photographed by 12-year-old Katy Appleton.
Katy Appleton/RPS SPotY

Winner – Young Science Photography – Apollo’s Emissary

2 emission per year.” width=”940″ height=”612″ /> A concentrated solar power (CSP) generating station in China. 12,000 mirrors reflect sunlight toward a central tower where it heats sodium nitrate salt. This goes to a heat exchanger, making steam to drive generator turbines. The thermal inertia is such that the station can continue working through the night, saving up to 350,000 tonnes of CO2 emission per year.
Raymond Zhang/RPS SPotY

Selected – Giants On The Move

1380_Giants on the Move by Rasmus Degnbol
A 78-metre long blade for an offshore wind turbine seen crossing a roundabout in the city of Tarp, Denmark.
Rasmus Degnbol/RPS SPotY

Selected – Coral Bleaching

1316_Coral Bleaching by Wojciech Nawrocki
Close-up view of coral that has been affected by bleaching. This takes place when coral polyps expel algae that live inside their tissues in response to stress stimuli. The algae produce up to 90 per cent of the coral’s energy. One stress stimulus is an increase in water temperature.
Wojciech Nawrocki/RPS SPotY

Selected – Advanced Virgo+

North arm of the Advanced VIRGO+ Gravitational Wave Observatory. VIRGO+ comprises two arms, each 3km long, set at right angles to eachother. Laser beams pass up and down these tubes before being recombined to make an interference pattern. A change in this pattern can be caused by a passing gravitational wave.
North arm of the Advanced VIRGO+ Gravitational Wave Observatory. VIRGO+ comprises two arms, each 3km long, set at right angles to each other. Laser beams pass up and down these tubes before being recombined to make an interference pattern. A change in this pattern can be caused by a passing gravitational wave.
Enrico Sacchetti/RPS SPotY

Selected – Dinosaur Bone

Seen through a microscope, a polished slice through a fosislised dinosaur bone reveals multiple colours due to the minerals deposited. The different colours come from changing mineral content as the fossil formed and do not reflect the underlying structure of bone. This image spans a field of 1.2mm
Seen through a microscope, a polished slice through a fosislised dinosaur bone reveals multiple colours due to the minerals deposited. The different colours come from changing mineral content as the fossil formed and do not reflect the underlying structure of bone. This image spans a field of 1.2mm
Norm Barker ASIS FRPS/RPS SPotY

Selected – On thin Ice

North America, Canada, Nunavut, Lancaster Sound
A polar bear Ursus maritimus standing on a tiny ice floe in the Arctic Ocean, a powerful symbol of the loss of polar sea ice due to climate change. Photographed at Nunavut, Lancaster Sound, Canada.
Sue Flood/RPS SPotY

Selected – Spherical Aberration

A simple spherical lens placed inside a patterned tube distorts the light passing through it. The distortion is greater toward the edge of the lens due to spherical aberration, the inability of all the light to be brought to a common focus point.
Photographer Richard Germain: ‘A simple spherical lens placed inside a patterned tube distorts the light passing through it. The distortion is greater toward the edge of the lens due to spherical aberration, the inability of all the light to be brought to a common focus point.’
Richard Germain/RPS SPotY

Selected – Synlight Experiment

Some of the 149 xenon arc lamps that form the 'Synlight' experiment. This creates a light intensity 10,000 times greater than the incident radiation from the Sun, and is used in experiments into making fuels such as hydrogen from water. Photographed at Jülich, Germany.
Some of the 149 xenon arc lamps that form the ‘Synlight’ experiment. This creates a light intensity 10,000 times greater than the incident radiation from the Sun, and is used in experiments into making fuels such as hydrogen from water. Photographed at Jülich, Germany.
Christian Lünig/RPS SPotY

Selected – Lo Hueco

Three students from the Complutense University of Madrid are working on the restoration and conservation of a titanosaur bone from Lo Hueco, the largest dinosaur site ever found in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in Europe. More than 10.000 pieces have been extracted from a single area in Cuenca, Spain.
Three students from the Complutense University of Madrid are working on the restoration and conservation of a titanosaur bone from Lo Hueco, the largest dinosaur site ever found in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in Europe. More than 10.000 pieces have been extracted from a single area in Cuenca, Spain.
Nuno Perestrelo/RPS SPotY

Selected – The Net Strangling The Ocean

Sperm Whale entangled in a ghost net in the Strait of Gibraltar, picture taken with Ministry permissions. It was a very sad moment when we saw this sperm whale totally covered by a ghost net. The whale was trying to breath hardly and when I approach swimming trying to see if there was any way to help, I realise It was really difficult to do something, after a few seconds the animal went down and a strong wind and waves forced us to leave that place. The animal wasn't found again despite a lot of people and authorities tried to do so. A sad end for an innocent animal.
Sperm Whale entangled in a ghost net in the Strait of Gibraltar, picture taken with Ministry permission. Photographer Rafael Fernandez: ‘It was a very sad moment when we saw this sperm whale totally covered by a ghost net.’ Fernandez swam up to the whale to help, but realised there was nothing he could do. ‘After a few seconds, the animal went down and a strong wind and waves forced us to leave that place. The animal wasn’t found again despite a lot of people and authorities trying to do so,’ he said.
Rafael Fernandez/RPS SPotY

Shortlisted – Single Eye Drop

0408_Single Eye Drop by Andre Castellan
One single eye drop being administered into a human eye.
Andre Castellan/RPS SPotY

Shortlisted – The Human Tongue

Surface of the human tongue photographed under microscope, showing the papillae
Surface of the human tongue photographed under microscope, showing the papillae.
David Spears ASIS FRPS/RPS SPotY
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You can find more information and see all of the winners on the Science Photographer of the Year gallery page