Huss Receives 2013 Cryosphere Young Investigator Award

Matthias Huss received the 2013 Cryosphere Young Investigator Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for “a significant contribution to cryospheric science and technology.”


huss_matthiasMatthias Huss is an outstanding young glaciologist who completed his Ph.D. in 2009 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, and currently has a joint appointment there and at the University of Fribourg. During his short scientific career, Matthias has made substantial and innovative contributions to a broad range of topics in glaciology, including modeling and projection of glacier mass and runoff changes, glacier outburst floods, glacier dynamics, and climate-glacier interactions. His work ranges from local-scale to regional- and global-scale studies. Of note, he developed a new cutting-edge and already widely used parameterization to model glacier retreat, which fills the gap between complex ice flow models and simple scaling methods. He also computed ice thickness distribution maps of all 200,000 glaciers in the world based on principles of flow dynamics. This unique data set has many applications, of which perhaps the most significant is the estimation of the total volume of stored ice, a quantity that is critical for projections of sea level rise and water resources during the 21st century.

Most importantly, Matthias has shown the capacity to question and deviate from conventional wisdom and think “outside the box,” to critically review existing methods and to suggest intriguing new ways of looking at glaciological problems. His ideas can be provocative and controversial, but they always evolve from thoughtful consideration. Matthias’s productivity is clearly remarkable with more than 40 peer-reviewed papers published, mostly in high-profile international journals, since his first paper in 2007.

In summary, Matthias has demonstrated excellence, independence, and a level of scientific maturity that is clearly exceptional and makes him a highly deserving recipient of the AGU Cryosphere Young Investigator Award.

—REGINE HOCK, University of Alaska Fairbanks; GRAHAM COGLEY, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada; and AL RASMUSSEN, University of Washington, Seattle


I would like to thank the AGU Cryosphere focus group for this award. Gaining such an important recognition at this stage of a scientific career is indeed both a great honor and a motivation to me. I was a little child when I first stepped onto a glacier. There was an unforgettable sensation of attraction and interest that touched me—one might call it a magic moment. Back then, I would never have imagined being a glaciologist one day. But it feels right, and I am grateful to have received the opportunity of exploring this wonderful element of nature.

However, I would not be where I am today without the continuous support of many people in the cryospheric community who have provided valuable guidance, opened up new doors for me, and taught me to critically reflect science. My most sincere thanks go to Regine Hock. Since my very first footsteps into glaciology, she has been deeply inspiring and motivating to me. I value all our hard discussions, which contributed immensely to my scientific development. I would also like to express my gratitude to my supervisors and mentors, Martin Funk, Andreas Bauder (ETH Zurich), and Martin Hoelzle (University of Fribourg), who were key personalities for my academic life. I was fortunate to be given by them the liberty to pursue my own interests and conduct independent research on various components of the cryosphere. Many thanks as well to Graham Cogley and Al Rasmussen, who wrote supporting letters. And maybe most importantly, I should mention my own generation of scientists and friends for sharing innumerous experiences and challenges with me. I am privileged to build upon such a well-balanced network that also involves my parents and Salome, who always unconditionally provided support and affection.

Being presented with this award by the whole cryospheric community really means something to me. For one who started with studying the small glaciers in Switzerland, such an honor is far from self-evident and encourages me to continue on my way. Thank you very much.

—MATTHIAS HUSS, Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland