18 November 2009

Dr Roy M 'Fritz' Koerner

Fritz Koerner was born on July 3rd. 1932 in Portsmouth England and passed away at the age of 75 on May 25th, 2008 in Ottawa Canada. He was always a highly active and charming individual with a great sense of humour who enjoyed long distance and cross country running. In later years cross country skiing.

Graduating from the University of Sheffield in 1954 in Geography, he joined the British Antarctic Survey in 1957 going to Hope Bay Station where he was involved in Meteorology and Glaciology. In this region also there is a 2,000' peak named after him. Fritz also completed an MA in Geography in 1961.

His main interests were in the 'stratification' and 'crystalline formation' of the glaciers, and through bore samples, the temperature dependent oxygen isotopes by which he could discern the variations in temperatures throughout extended periods of time in the areas concerned.

Fritz received both Clasps to his Polar Medal, the Antarctic in 1963 and the Arctic in 1969 following his 3,620 mile trek across the Arctic Ocean from Alaska to Norway as a member of the Wally Herbert expedition.

In 1961 he joined the Arctic Institute of North America in Montreal and went north to Devon Island from 1961-1962 to study the glaciers. This in turn led to his 1968 dissertation for his PhD, at the London School of Economics. He returned to Devon Island in 1963, 1965 & 1966. It was on the 1963 expedition that the Icebreaker C.D.Howe picked him up on the north coast of Devon Island in October to find himself greeted by fellow Sheffield graduate Dr. Allan G. Osborn who had known him from Stephenson Hall. This would be around 700-800 miles from the North Pole.

He published more than 70 scientific articles, and was an Adjunct Professor in Geography at Carleton University. Whilst officially retired in 1999 'Fritz' continued to put in many full days at the Department of Natural Resources in Ottawa.

He married Anna Kowalszyk in 1964 and was predeceased by her in 1989. He is survived by his daughters Eva, Davina & Kristina and by son Justin. He will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate to have known him.

Allan G. Osborn.
(BDS FADI)