Matthew Sturm – Author and Snow Enthusiast


Julie has a cousin from York, England. Eric loves traveling, and now in retirement he’s doing a lot of it. On a visit with us several years ago he fell in love with Alaska. He loves the snow, the cold, the dark and all the region’s rough edges. He has visited us twice and he’s joining us again early next year. In his Yorkshire accent, his eyes shining, he’ll tell you it’s brilliant.

I thought of Eric as I was putting this program together. Next time he’s is in town, I want to introduce him to Matthew Sturm. Like Eric, Matthew sought out adventure as a young man. And like Eric, he has boundless enthusiasm for “The North.”  After a stint in the Coast Guard and running Zodiacs in Antarctica, Matthew returned to school and started a path in snow research that led to him being elected in 2009 a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a rare honor. But his passion also led him to write an engaging celebration of the people and physical dynamics that have shaped and continue to shape the North American high latitudes. Finding the Arctic, recounts a 2500 mile snow-machine traverse he and some fellow researchers made from Fairbanks to Hudson Bay, Canada. He’s also the author of a wonderful children’s book: Apun: The Arctic Snow.

I first met Matthew years ago when I was working on a documentary on Climate Change. Our crew had flown to Barrow and we were to meet him outside of town. His team, in a line of snow-machines and what looked like a trailer on treads, emerged from a veil of blowing snow. Dressed in patched coveralls, a large worn parka, with sun goggles and a full beard, Mathew looked every inch the Arctic explorer. With this exception: he was neither grim nor taciturn. In gesture and word, he conveyed an unalloyed excitement about being in the field and to be explaining his work. As a producer I knew I had struck gold.

In this episode, I explore his scientific lineage, his love of history and how he came to study with Dr. Carl Benson, whose pioneering work on the Greenland Ice Sheet set the groundwork for decades of research to follow.

For Fairbanksans interested in meeting Matthew, he and his team are putting together an exhibit on permafrost at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor’s Center, Saturday September 10.

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