Greenland Legend Dead in Accident

August 10, 2020

Terrible news today of the passing of Konrad Steffen.

I interviewed “Koni” as his colleagues knew him, in 2015, in Ilulisat, Greenland.
No details yet, but apparently an accident during Greenland research.

ETH Board:

Konrad Steffen, Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), has died following an accident in Greenland this past weekend. With Koni Steffen’s death, the ETH Domain has lost an extremely prominent researcher who was also a uniquely kind and committed man. He was a pioneer in research into climate change who regularly took part in research projects in the Arctic and Antarctic. The ETH Domain expresses its sincere sympathy to his family.

Konrad Steffen, who had been conducting research into climate change – notably in the Arctic and Antarctic – for over 40 years, died at the weekend following an accident in Greenland. As Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), he was regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities in this field.

“With Koni Steffen’s death, we have lost a uniquely kind and committed colleague. Everyone in the ETH Domain is greatly saddened by this loss”, said ETH Board President Michael Hengartner. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends, to whom we send our heartfelt condolences”. 

Born in 1952, Konrad Steffen was a dual Swiss and American citizen. He had headed the WSL since 2012. Having studied natural sciences, he gained a doctorate from ETH Zurich in 1984. In 1990 he was appointed as Professor of Climatology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA, where he subsequently headed the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). As of 2012, he was also Professor for Climate and Cryosphere at ETH Zurich and at EPFL in Lausanne. 

3 Responses to “Greenland Legend Dead in Accident”


  1. Thank you for posting this Peter. Koni was a giant. I am devastated.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    A great loss. When we engage in any sort of “war” like that against climate change, I guess we must expect to lose some warriors. Semper Fi, Koni—-rest in peace.

  3. indy222 Says:

    I’ve admired the good scholarship of his papers. A great loss, yes. At least he died doing what he was most committed to. The climate science community will miss him and his work.


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