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William Stanley Bryce (Stan) Paterson

Stan Paterson

Stan Paterson, an honorary IGS member and Richardson Medal recipient, has died at the age of 89

8 October 2013

Stan Paterson graduated in 1949 with an honours degree from the University of Edinburgh, where he worked as a lecturer prior to his selection for the survey team on the British North Greenland Expedition in 1953/4. This venture introduced him to glaciology and saw him involved in measuring altitudes at 300 points on a 1200 km traverse across the Greenland ice sheet. From 1955–6, he was employed as assistant surveyor of the South Georgia Survey (SGS), where Mount Paterson (54°39'32" S, 36°7'37" W, 2196 m a.s.l.) is named after him.

Stan emigrated to Canada in 1957, earning a PhD in Physics from the University of British Columbia in 1962, and studied glaciers in the Canadian High Arctic and the Rocky Mountains, mainly under the auspices of the Canadian Government’s Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP), initially part of the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys and then the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. During this time he produced the first edition of The Physics of Glaciers (1969).

Stan was the architect of Canada’s original ice-coring programme on Meighen Island and Devon Island. In the early 1970s, through his involvement with the National Research Council of Canada’s Subcommittee on Glaciers, and as IGS Correspondent, he produced regular reports on Canada’s snow and ice research. The influence of his work with the PCSP, as one of Canada’s leading glaciologists through the 1960s and 1970s, and that of his textbook, was recognized by the IGS with the award of Honorary Membership in 1994. The 3rd edition of The Physics of Glaciers, published that year, has been cited in every single Journal of Glaciology and Annals of Glaciology since then and has been translated into several other languages, including Russian and Chinese. The book is currently in its 4th edition.

In 2012, Stan was awarded the Richardson Medal of the IGS in recognition of his outstanding contributions to glaciology and to the Society.