Gordon Hamilton, a University of Maine professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, and a researcher with the Climate Change Institute, died in a field accident Oct. 22 while conducting research in Antarctica. He was 50.
Hamilton, a physical glaciologist, was working on White Island in the Ross Archipelago in Antarctica, an area where he has conducted research for several seasons, when the snowmobile he was riding hit a crevasse. He was killed in the 100-foot fall, according to the National Science Foundation. Hamilton was conducting NSF-funded research at the time of the accident.
“The University of Maine has lost one of its leading scientists,” says UMaine President Susan J. Hunter. “Gordon’s glaciology research around the world — from Antarctica to Greenland — was second to none. He leaves a legacy as an outstanding scientist, and a caring mentor and well-known teacher to undergraduate and graduate students. He was an engaged, gregarious and beloved member of the UMaine and Orono communities that now mourn his loss. Our heart-felt thoughts and prayers go to his wife, Fiona, and their two children, Martin and Calum, and his friends and colleagues around the world.”
Hamilton joined UMaine’s Climate Change Institute in 2000 as an assistant research professor. Prior to coming to Maine, he was at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University and the Norwegian Polar Institute in Oslo.
Hamilton 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.
Hamilton also taught UMaine undergraduate and graduate courses, and was involved in statewide STEM initiatives for grades 9–12.