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Statement from Dr. Kelly K. Falkner on the death in Antarctica of Gordon Hamilton

October 26, 2016

On behalf of all of us in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, I wish to express our deepest sympathies and regrets to the family, friends, and colleagues of Gordon Hamilton, of the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, who died this weekend while conducting field research in Antarctica.

He was killed when the snow machine he was riding fell into a crevasse.

The U.S. Antarctic Program is a close-knit corps of researchers and support personnel who carry out the nation’s program of research in Antarctica, working at the frontiers of human knowledge, but also at the physical frontiers of human experience.

The death of one of our colleagues is a tragic reminder of the risks we all face--no matter how hard we work at mitigating those risks--in field research.

Gordon will be missed by many and our hearts go out to all whose lives he touched.

He joined the university's Climate Change Institute in 2000 as an assistant research professor. Prior to coming to Maine, he was at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University and the Norwegian Polar Institute in Olso.

He studied the behavior of modern ice sheets and their role in the climate system. His research focused on understanding ice sheet mass balance — how much mass is coming in and going out, and the processes responsible — and involved satellite remote sensing. His current research projects included ice-ocean interaction in Greenland and ice shelf stability in Antarctica.

He also taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the university, and was involved in statewide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives for grades 9-12.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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