Stan Paterson

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Stan Paterson
W S B (Stan) Paterson, photo from International Geological Society.jpg
Born (1924-05-20)May 20, 1924
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Died October 8, 2013(2013-10-08) (aged 89)
Campbell River, Vancouver Island, Canada
Occupation Glaciologist

William Stanley Bryce (Stan) Paterson was a leading glaciologist who mined cores which provided climate data for the world's last 100,000 years.[1][2]

Academic career[edit]

In 1953, Paterson joined the British North Greenland Expedition as a surveyor.[1]

In 1956, Paterson joined an expedition to South Georgia where he was involved in the first survey of the island's mountain ranges.[1]

In 1957, Paterson emigrated for work to Montreal, Canada, before beginning his studies for a PhD in glaciology at the University of British Columbia the following year.[2]

In 1958, Paterson joined a Scottish East Greenland Expedition to measure the flow rate of a coastal glacier.[1]

Paterson completed his PhD in 1962 and was then appointed to the Canadian Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP) as a glaciologist.[2][3]

For the next few decades, Paterson, and a team of glaciologists he put together, spent time in the Canadian Arctic drilling ice cores and carrying out investigations on the ice caps.[3] Each ice core was analysed in terms of its structure and chemistry and provided pioneering data on the earth's climate reaching back 100,000 years into history.[1] Some of this data was then used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[1]

Also during his time at the PSCP, in 1969, Paterson wrote a key text in the field of glaciology - The Physics of Glaciers, of which a fourth edition was published in 2010 and it remains a key work in the field.[4][5]

Paterson left the PCSP in 1980, and continued his interests of writing and teaching with sabbaticals in Copenhagen, Seattle, Melbourne and China.[2]

The work Paterson carried out was also relevant to the field of planetary science, and in 1992 he was appointed as co-convenor of the NASA and Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) joint Workshop on The Polar Regions of Mars: Geology, Glaciology, and Climate History.[3]

In 2012, the International Glaciological Society awarded Paterson the Richardson Medal for Outstanding Services to Glaciology.[1][5]


Paterson was born in Edinburgh on 20 May 1924. He went to school at George Watson's College, then studied Mathematics and Physics at Edinburgh University where he graduated in 1949.[1][3] His experience of the university mountaineering club triggered his lifelong passion for climbing.[1]

Stan Paterson died on 8 October 2013, at Campbell River, Vancouver Island, Canada.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Stan Paterson - Obituary". The Telegraph. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Obituary: William Stanley "Stan" Bryce Paterson, glaciologist". The Scotsman. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "In Memoriam: W. S. B. Patterson (1924-2013)". Lunar and Planetary Institute. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Paterson, K.M. Cuffey, W.S.B. (2010). The physics of glaciers (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier. ISBN 9780123694614. 
  5. ^ a b "William Stanley Bryce (Stan) Paterson". International Glaciological Society. Retrieved 21 December 2013.