Hubertus Fischer, recipient of the 2017 Dansgaard Award.
Hubertus Fischer

I am pleased to introduce Hubertus Fischer as the Dansgaard Award winner, in recognition of his groundbreaking contributions and community leadership in ice core science.

Ice core pioneer Willi Dansgaard started in physics and expanded into chemistry, climate, and environmental sciences. Hubertus followed a similar path. He started in physics (University of Heidelberg, with side trips to Karlsruhe and Oregon). His postdoc at UC San Diego and a research position at the Alfred Wegener Institute expanded his range in climate and environment. Now a professor at the University of Bern, he focuses on the chemistry and physics of ice cores as archives of climate change and global biogeochemical systems.

Hubertus’s team has quantified changes in atmospheric greenhouse gases including their isotopes over timescales and with resolution previously impossible. Hubertus has also developed precise ice core records of chemical aerosol tracers that constrain changes in source and atmospheric circulation. His technical innovations include the use of new mass spectrometric techniques, continuous-flow ice melting, and ice sublimation analysis systems. He has shown that every Dansgaard-Oeschger event in Greenland had an Antarctic counterpart and has illuminated source budgets and exchange processes of greenhouse gases.

Hubertus is a generous community leader. A longtime steering committee member of EuroPICS and IPICS (European/International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences), he was recently elected cochair. He also cochaired the International Geosphere–Biosphere Programme (IGBP)/Future Earth project Past Global Changes (PAGES). He provided leadership for the European EPICA ice-coring project and the new “Oldest Ice Project,” which seeks to recover million-year-old ice from Antarctica.

Still accelerating at midcareer, Hubertus is among the world’s leaders in paleoclimatology, a community builder, and a warm and generous supporter of students and fellow researchers around the world. Willi Dansgaard would be thrilled to see his pioneering legacy carried on and expanded so elegantly by Hubertus.

—Alan C. Mix, Oregon State University, Corvallis


It requires a kind personality like Alan Mix’s to be so generous with his praise for a scientist from the ice core mafia who comes from the other side of the Atlantic. All the more reason to thank Alan, the other supporters of my nomination, and the Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology award committee for considering me worthy of this award. Having had the pleasure to meet Willi Dansgaard in person, I feel especially honored to be the first ice core scientist on this as yet short but exceptional list of Dansgaard awardees.

As Alan pointed out, much of my work is based on the development of new analytical techniques that allow us to measure new proxies and obtain isotopic information for a better quantification of past changes in biogeochemical cycles. Accordingly, much of the honor of this award goes to the excellent scientists and dedicated students in my group who have the patience I lack to bring these new methods to perfection and who do not give up on my overly optimistic ideas.

Paleoscience and ice core science are exciting fields not only because of the possibility to create new knowledge but also because of the opportunity to get to know so many inspiring colleagues in international projects, at conferences, and last but not least during exciting fieldwork on the polar ice sheets. Over many years, I have had the pleasure to be closely connected to IPICS and PAGES, meeting a huge crowd of brilliant paleoscientists. This has widened both my network and my horizon and has substantially influenced my work and my life. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage young and not so young paleoscientists to engage in PAGES, in order to push paleoscience forward, bridge disciplinary boundaries, and help mold future Dansgaard awardees.

—Hubertus Fischer, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland


(2017), Fischer Receives 2017 Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Dansgaard Award, Eos, 98, Published on 02 November 2017.

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