Arctic Research Community Loses Pioneering Polar Scientist, Laxon

Dr. Seymour Laxon, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London, died aged 49 after sustaining a head injury in an accident on New Year’s Day, 2013.

Laxon was remembered on the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling web-site, as the “heart of all the achievements and successes of the Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling at University College London (UCL) over the past two decades.”

He pioneered the use of space-borne altimeter systems for measuring sea ice freeboard from which one can infer ice thickness.

Laxon also developed a methodology to distinguish between radar reflections of the ice surface and those from the water surface over the ice-covered polar oceans. This later led to mappings of the mean sea surface and the marine gravity field of the Arctic Ocean, in addition to the cryospheric application of deriving sea ice thickness.

Laxon was lead-author of a new study that presents the first two full winters of ESA’s CryoSat-2 measurements over Arctic sea ice, after launch of the satellite in April 2010.  The study will be published posthumously in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL).

ESSIC cryospheric researcher Sinead Farrell, is a co-author of the pending Laxon led study.