Tributes to Scottish scientist who died in Antarctica snowmobile accident

Gordon HamiltonImage copyright
Leigh Stearns

Image caption

An investigation has been launched into Prof Gordon Hamilton’s death

The family of a Dundee-born scientist who died in Antarctica said they were “immensely proud” of his achievements.

Dr Gordon Hamilton, 50, was killed after his snowmobile plunged 100ft (30.48m) into a crevasse on Saturday.

His body was later recovered and the US Antarctic Program has launched an investigation into his death.

Dr Hamilton’s family, including his wife Fiona and children Martin and Calum, said in a statement they were “devastated” by his death.

Dr Hamilton was a University of Maine professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences, and a researcher with the Climate Change Institute.

He was part of a team camped in a heavily crevassed area known as the Shear Zone, around 25 miles (40.23 km) south of McMurdo Station, the largest of the three US research stations in Antarctica.

‘Immensely proud’

Dr Hamilton’s family said his interest in geography developed while attending Dundee’s Harris Academy.

After leaving school, he attended Aberdeen University and gained a PhD from Cambridge University.

His family said: “During this time he had his first experiences of polar exploration that went on to form such an important part of his life and career.

“Although Gordon had worked abroad in Norway and the USA for more than 20 years, he maintained a love of Scotland, always eager to find out the Dundee FC score or to hear how the Scotland rugby team was getting on.”

Dr Hamilton visited Scotland in July to celebrate his 50th birthday.

His family said he visited the Oor Wullie Bucket Trail in Dundee and saw a concert in Stornaway by Runrig, a band he had followed since his schooldays.

The statement said: “His wife Fiona, children Martin and Calum in America, Gordon’s family in the UK and friends throughout the world are all devastated at his death.

“However, they are immensely proud of all that he achieved in his life.”

‘Tragic reminder’

Colleagues also paid tribute to the scientist following the tragedy.

Paul Mayewski, director of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute, said: “You knew that if Gordon came into the tent, that things were going to be fun and pleasant.

“They were repeating an activity that they’d done many times before, but it’s a dangerous area and accidents happen. That’s exactly what this was.”

Dr Hamilton spent much of his time in Greenland and Antarctica studying the movement and melting of glaciers and its effect on rising sea levels.

The National Science Foundation, which was funding Dr Hamilton’s research, is arranging the return of his body to the United States.

Kelly K Falkner, director of the division’s polar programs, said: “The death of one of our colleagues is a tragic reminder of the risks we all face, no matter how hard we work at mitigating those risks, in field research.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-37774048

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