Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Geomicrobiology and Climate Change
Those graduate students acknowledge how fortunate they have been to work with Rysgaard. “Dr. Rysgaard always leads by example,” says postdoctoral researcher Karley Campbell. “At the heart of his approach,” she says, “is his respect towards fellow students and staff and that all ideas are granted thought and consideration independent of one’s position.”
Odile Crabeck, who completed his Ph.D. under Rysgaard in 2017, agrees with Campbell’s assessment.
“The joy and enthusiasm Dr. Rysgaard has for the research is contagious and motivational, which make him a great mentor,” she says.
“And, after so many years doing Arctic research, he is still strongly passionate and driven by his work.”
Recently, Rysgaard has focused that passion and drive on researching ocean-glacier interactions, the processes behind the melting of glaciers and icebergs, and the tracking of icebergs and ocean currents in relation to ice hazards.
“Through my many years in the Greenland and Canadian Arctic, I have witnessed that sea ice and glaciers are melting very fast,” Rysgaard explains. “Many of the glaciers I originally visited more than 20 years ago are rapidly disappearing.”
This, he adds, is a salient topic due to increased traffic and oil exploitation in the Arctic.
As Rysgaard pursues this newer line of research as a CERC laureate, he looks forward to working with the new Canada 150 Research Chair, Julienne Stroeve, who begins her tenure in September.
After spending hundreds of days as a CERC in the challenging and unforgiving cryosphere, Rysgaard is nowhere near ready to come in from the cold. After all, he knows better than anyone that there is still so much more to learn about thinning sea ice, thawing permafrost and the detrimental effects of climate change on the Arctic environment.
Ice-Breaking Arctic Research
Søren Rysgaard was an ideal selection for the inaugural CERC program, launched by the Canadian government in 2008. The aim of the program, after all, was to enhance Canada’s reputation as a global leader in cutting-edge science and innovation, establish global partnerships and generate lasting social and economic benefits for Canadians.
During his CERC tenure, Rysgaard has done all of that on a massive scale.
One of Rysgaard’s first steps as a CERC was to create the Arctic Science Partnership, an extensive international research collaboration between the University of Manitoba, Aarhus University, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and The Alfred Wegener Institute, that brings together the world’s leading Arctic scientists. He then led those scientists, and hundreds of students, on 30 major field campaigns, many of them to the most remote and unforgiving parts of the Arctic.
Working closely with his team, Rysgaard discovered numerous physical, chemical and biological processes related to sea ice formation, sea ice melt and the way in which sea ice affects greenhouse-gas exchange between the atmosphere and ocean. He also developed new techniques for measuring the global nitrogen cycle in the oceans, and published more than 200 papers on his research.
Rysgaard mentored and inspired countless young scientists and Arctic explorers in both the lab and in the field, and generated millions of dollars in global funding for new Arctic projects. In the course of doing all of this, he also turned the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Manitoba into the world’s foremost intellectual hub for Arctic and climate change exploration and discovery.