John C. Behrendt was elected President of the prestigious American Polar Society in spring 2006. The Society, founded in 1934, has a mission to foster interest in research and exploration in the Arctic, Antarctic, and polar-like regions. Behrendt made his first trip to Antarctica in 1956 as a graduate student, where he wintered over at Ellsworth Station, and has continued his work in Antarctica on 12 additional expeditions, the last in 2003. He is one of the world’s two or three people who have worked in the U.S. Program in Antarctica in parts of six successive decades. The Behrendt Mountains in Ellsworth Land were named for him as a result of an over-snow traverse that he led in that area using Sno-Cats in 1957-58.
Behrendt was employed by the U.S. Geological Survey for 31 years, has also been a member of the U.S. State Department delegation to 22 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings, and has authored two books about his Antarctic experience: Innocents on the Ice: A memoir of Antarctic exploration, 1957, and The Ninth Circle: A memoir of life and death in Antarctica, 1960-1962. His current research at INSTAAR includes the study of geophysical evidence for subglacial late Cenozoic volcanism beneath the Antarctic ice sheet.
In addition to Antarctica, Behrendt carried out geophysical investigations in West Africa, the Atlantic continental margin of the U.S., and the Rocky Mountains. He makes his home in Boulder, and always has a backpack ready for another expedition to the world’s most remote continent.