Konrad Steffen

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Konrad Steffen
Born1952 (age 66–67)
Alma materETH Zurich
Known forResearch into climate change in the Arctic and Arctic sea ice
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Colorado Boulder, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
ThesisSurface temperature and sea ice of an arctic polynya: north water in winter : Canad. and greenlandic high arctic (1985)
Doctoral advisorAtsumu Ohmura
Notable studentsJason Box

Konrad "Koni" Steffen (born 1952)[1] is a glaciologist and the former director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, a position he held from 2005[2] until he took office as the director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research on July 1, 2012.[3] He is known for his research into Arctic sea ice and the glaciers of Greenland, and how they are affected by global warming.[4] He has often traveled to Greenland to study these glaciers firsthand; for example, when studying Petermann Glacier for three weeks in 2004, Steffen did so from a camp set up 4,000 feet up the flanks of the glacier's ice cap.[5] He also operates a network of 20 weather stations on the Greenland ice sheet,[6] the first of which, Swiss Camp, he established in 1990.[7] He has argued that due to this ice sheet melting faster than anticipated, sea levels could rise by about 3 feet by 2100, considerably higher than the IPCC's upper limit of 59 centimetres (1.94 ft),[8] and that Greenland might lose all its ice in 10,000 years, but Antarctica would take considerably longer, since it is so much bigger.[9]


Steffen attended ETH Zurich, from which he received a Doctor of Science degree in 1977 and a Diplom in 1983.[10]


Steffen was an associate professor of geography at the University of Colorado Boulder from 1991 to 1997, whereupon he became a full professor there.[10] Since July 1, 2012, he has been director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. He was a lead author of the "Observations: Cryosphere" chapter of the IPCC AR5, released in 2013.[11]


In October 2017, Steffen received the Lowell Thomas Award from The Explorers Club, a non-profit group that promotes scientific exploration. The award is presented by the President of the Club on special occasions to groups of outstanding explorers. The Club cited Steffens' research of sea level changes sensitivity studies of large ice sheets using in situ and modeling results.[12]


  1. ^ New professors at the ETH Zurich appointed
  2. ^ Konrad Steffen, CIRES
  3. ^ "Konrad Steffen new WSL Director". Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Water Flowing Through Ice Sheets Accelerates Warming, Could Speed Up Ice Flow, Says New Study". US News. 5 November 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  5. ^ Revkin, Andrew (8 June 2004). "An Icy Riddle as Big as Greenland". New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  6. ^ Williams, Jack (5 July 2001). "Greenland should hold answers to climate puzzles". USA Today. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  7. ^ Clynes, Tom (3 July 2007). "Konrad Steffen: The Global Warming Prophet". Popular Science. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  8. ^ Warner, Joel (12 December 2007). "The Ice Man". Boise Weekly. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  9. ^ Krulwich, Robert (31 January 2014). "A Hunk Of Planet Dissolves Before Our Eyes". NPR. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  10. ^ a b Konrad Steffen CV
  11. ^ Observations: Cryosphere
  12. ^ "The Explorers Club - News - Announcing the 2017 Lowell Thomas Award Winners". explorers.org. Retrieved 2017-08-15.

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