Dr. Matthew Sturm

Age: 54
Married with 2 children (Ages 18 and 19)
Lives: in Fairbanks Alaska
Studies: Snow crystals and snow cover
Hobbies: Mountain climbing, curling, reading

I first came to the Arctic on a Coast Guard icebreaker when I was 17.  For a while I worked in the Antarctic running boats (Fig. 1). In both the Arctic and Antarctic I found the ice and snow to be important and fascinating, so I went to college and became a geologist, and later a glaciologist (one who studies frozen water).

In 1981 my wife and I moved to Fairbanks, where we have lived ever since.  It is a sub-arctic town, but snow and ice are still pretty important there. In graduate school I started studying glaciers, then switched to snow cover. . .that’s what we call the snow piled up on the ground.  First I studied what happens to individual snow grains (Fig. 2), then I got interested in how snow effects climate, so I started leading long over-snow trips to collect data.  On several month-long expeditions, my children (Skye and Eli) have helped in the field (Fig. 3).

My first long snowmobile trip was in 1994. Since then I have led about 15 such trips and probably traveled about 8000 km.  Even when I am the Chief Scientist on a trip, I like to do all types of work. Last winter, I was working on a snow project in Barrow (Fig. 4) but I still got to do the surveying, which was fun.  In total, I have about 37 years of living and working in the Arctic.




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