Pioneering glaciologist leaves legacy of research

October 8, 2010


Geophysical Institute Professor Emeritus Keith Echelmeyer died at age 56 on Oct. 2, 2010. The glaciologist, pilot, mountaineer and fighter for life passed away with his incomparable wife Susan Campbell by his side. She wrote the following in his obituary:


“During his two decades as a professor of geophysics at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Keith mentored many graduate students and felt privileged to work with many talented colleagues on an array of research projects in Alaska, Greenland, Patagonia, and Antarctica. He was a pioneer in airborne laser-altimetry and used his Piper PA-12 aircraft to measure dramatic changes in Alaska glaciers. In July 2002, he co-authored an article in Science that highlighted the contribution of Alaska glaciers to sea-level rise and garnered worldwide media attention. Keith also worked on calving and surging glaciers in Alaska, on the world’s fastest flowing glacier in Greenland and conducted extensive research on the shear margins of Antarctic ice streams. He was featured in a Discovery Channel program, ‘Understanding Ice,’ and on the Public Broadcasting Service series, ‘Scientific American Frontiers.’


“In 2003, the International Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names honored his work by renaming an ice stream the Echelmeyer Ice Stream. Keith received the Usibelli Award for Excellence in Research at UAF in 2002. Receiving these awards was a humbling experience and he always appreciated the support he received from UAF and from his colleagues around the globe.  As author and co-author of over 50 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, Keith’s work will continue to influence ongoing glacier research worldwide.”