Renowned climate-change researcher killed by climate change: colleagues

Global warming tortured him till the end.

A climate researcher has died as a result of the melting ice caps caused by rising global temperatures, his devastated colleagues claim.

Glaciologist Konrad Steffen, 68, who pioneered the study of climate change, was confirmed dead on August 8 after apparently falling into an icy abyss over Greenland.

But those close to the Swiss-American scientist and his work claim that the type of cracks in the ice he fell into “were unheard of” in the region up until recently, reported.

“It looks like climate change actually claimed him as a victim,” said friend Ryan Neely, a University of Leeds climate scientist.

Steffen, director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), had extensive experience with the frosty terrain over the western coastal town of Ilulissat, where he traveled annually for more than 30 years. Situated within a stunning Arctic landscape of icebergs and glacial waters, his longtime weather station, Swiss Camp, has become a research hub for rising sea levels.

Authorities in Ilulissat declared Steffen dead after finding “signs that the person fell through a crack in the glacier,” according to police spokesperson Brian Thomsen, who spoke to local newspaper Sermitsiaq. Scientist Kathy Riklin explained that a snow bridge had likely collapsed beneath her colleague, plunging him through the ice sheet, Agence France reported at the time.

Cracks in the ice were not on Steffen’s radar when he first established Swiss Camp back in 1990. But within a mere decade of research, he found that winter temperatures in the region had spiked 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius.

Steffen was known as a vocal environmental advocate, often bringing politicians including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Al Gore to Swiss Camp to lobby on behalf of climate-change legislation. During a congressional hearing in 2017, he illustrated the amount of ice melting in Greenland each year as equal to a mile-high column of water covering Washington, DC.

Neely also called his late mentor, known for never leaving camp without his satellite phone, a sleeping bag and a pack of Marlboros, a “larger than life explorer-scientist that you typically only get the chance to read about.”

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