He was a renowned climate scientist who spent his life studying melting ice in the Arctic and warning the world about the consequences. And it was those very dangers that claimed the life of Konrad Steffen, reports USA Today. The 68-year-old fell through ice at his Swiss Camp in Greenland and drowned in the water-filled crevasse. Steffen had been working with other researchers and went beyond a designated safety zone, apparently disoriented in windy, low-visibility conditions, a fellow researcher tells CBS News. “In the end, it looks like climate change actually claimed him as a victim," Ryan Neely III, a climate scientist at the University of Leeds, tells the New York Times.
Steffen was a beloved, towering figure in his field who was known as "Koni." He once served as the scientific director at the Swiss Polar Institute, and he also led the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, per the Daily Camera. Al Gore was among those paying tribute. "Koni's renowned work as a glaciologist has been instrumental in the world’s deepened understanding of the climate crisis," wrote the former VP. Researchers knew the crevasse into which Steffen fell existed, but Neely adds that such crevasses "were unheard of" not too long ago—before warming began to take a toll on the ice sheet. In this video from a few years ago, Steffen explains the changes taking place around his station. (Read more Arctic stories.)