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Climate change scientist dead after falling into crevasse

Climate change scientist dead after falling into crevasse

A renowned Swiss-American climate change scientist died after falling into a crevasse while conducting research on ice in Greenland, authorities and reports said Wednesday.

Konrad Steffen, director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), was working near Ilulissat on Saturday when he was reported missing, police said.

A rescue operation was launched, but ultimately abandoned without the 68-year-old researcher’s body being found.

“We have found signs that the person fell through a crack in the glacier,” police spokesman Brian Thomsen told local newspaper Sermitsiaq.

“An accident has probably occurred and it is highly probable that the person in question has passed away,” Thomsen added.

His death was confirmed by WSL in a statement on Monday, which said staffers at the institute were “shocked and aghast” by the loss of Steffen.

“We have not only lost the Director of our institute, but also a committed scientist and above all a unique and generous person and friend,” the statement said. “We will all miss him.”

Fellow scientist Kathy Riklin said it seemed a snow bridge had collapsed under Steffen, causing him to plummet into the crevasse, Agence France-Presse reported.

The tragic accident occurred less than a mile from the research station Steffen established in 1990 — known as “Swiss Camp” — where he made an annual expedition.

Assisted by NASA and the US National Science Foundation, Steffen had been building a network of automatic weather stations there. At the time of the accident he was doing maintenance on these stations, according to Hegg.

Steffen’s 30-year study observing the changing nature of Greenland’s ice sheet confirmed rising temperatures and sea levels, the most distinct features of climate change, The Washington Post reported.

In 2017, he testified before Congress about the amount of ice melting in Greenland each year, saying it was equivalent to a mile-high column of water covering Washington D.C., according to the Post.

“That got some attention,” Steffen said at the time.

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Evan Lewis

Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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