Beloved American-Swiss climate scientist and glaciologist Conrad “Cone” Steffen died on Saturday while doing research in Greenland. He was 68 years old.
Steffen fell on a ridge filled with water, Swiss media reports say, as snow and ice gave way down him as he worked near a weather station. Rescue attempts were unsuccessful and his body was not found.
Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland who was with Steffen before he died, said he believed his friend “remains 8 feet down in the water”, according to CBS News.
“Personally, Connie was like a father,” Box told CBS. “Infinite man. Extraordinary loss. Tears fall around the world.”
Steffen was scientific director at the Polar Institute of Switzerland and director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).
“At Konrad Steffen, we have not only lost the director of our institute, but also a dedicated scientist and above all a unique and generous person and friend,” the WSL said in a statement announcing Steffen’s death. “We will all miss him.”
With nearly 15,000 academic citations to his name, Steffen had conducted research on climate change for over 40 years – particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic, according to the board of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
He also taught for years as a professor at Boulder University, Colorado and the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne.
People mourning the loss are sharing their memories of Steffen on social media.
“Connie’s well-known work as a glaciologist has been helpful in the world-wide understanding of the climate crisis,” wrote former U.S. Vice President and environmentalist Al Gore.
“He has had a positive impact on our campus and countless students, I am thankful we had him here!” wrote SarahDawn Haynes, an opportunity cartographer working at the University of Colorado Environment Center. “#konradSteffen rest in honor.”
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