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September 6th, 2009

In Memorium: Mark Dyurgerov

Mark Dyurgerov, Worthington Glacier, 1998. Photo: Tad Pfeffer.

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and valued colleague, Mark Dyurgerov passed away on September 5th, 2009.

Mark, an internationally known glaciologist, was a Fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a devoted husband and father. He was born in Moscow, Russia; both of his parents were engineers, and his mother was also a Russian poet.

Mark was educated at Moscow State University, where he received his BS and PhD degrees in 1970 and 1974. His mentor was the famous glaciologist Petr Shumsky. He was introduced to the high mountains by Misha Plam, who later came to Boulder to direct INSTAAR’s Mountain Research Station. In 1990 Mark received the higher degree of Doctor of Science from the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Science, and in 1992 was awarded the title Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources by the Russian Academy.

Mountains and glaciology were two of the biggest passions in Mark’s life. He went with Professor Shumsky to Antarctica, where he wintered over twice. He conducted glaciological researches in many of the high mountains of Asia and climbed Peak Communism (7495m, 24,590 ft, now re-named Ismoil Somoni Peak) in 1977, the highest mountain in the former Soviet Union. Mark conducted glaciological research for more than 21 days on the Pamir Glacier Plateau at elevations of 5900-6500m (19,300-21,300 ft) without descending. At that time it was a record for a scientist working for so long at such a high elevation.

Fedtchenko Glacier research station, Pamir, ~4200 m a.s.l., 1983. Fedtchenko operated from 1930 to 1992 and is situated on a nunatak surrounded by the largest glacier in central Asia. Photo: Mark Dyurgerov

Mark came to the United States in 1995 to work with American glaciologists in Boulder. He became an American citizen in 2003. He continued his work as a Research Scientist and Fellow of INSTAAR, and collaborated with personnel at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, as well as with other local scientists and graduate students and colleagues around the world. Mark's closest colleagues were Mark Meier and Tad W. Pfeffer at INSTAAR, and David Bahr (now at Regis University). They helped Mark quickly integrate in the American glaciological community and feel at home in the U.S. In 2004, he received a fellowship from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and in 2006-07 he was in Stockholm as a recipient of a prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship. At the time of his death, he had published over 120 scientific papers, including two in 2009, in the fields of glacier monitoring, causes of sea-level rise, methods of mass balance and runoff study, and all aspects of glacier regime in relation to climate change and melt-water production. Until the last hours, he was working on a major compendium that he was planning to publish in Moscow as an issue of "Materials of Glaciological Research." The best known of Mark’s contributions to the scientific literature are his several global compilations and syntheses of glacier mass balance. His results figured in the climate-change and sea-level sections of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Mark is survived by his beloved wife Tatyana Kostyashkina and daughter Anya, as well as his former wife Antonina , his older daughter Marina, his son Victor, and four grandchildren who live in Russia. He will be sorely missed for his love, generosity, and cheery disposition, as well as for his scientific contributions.

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