Honorary Member Liz Morris

Liz Morris chaired the Division “Seasonal Snow Cover & Avalanches” of the International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI) of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) from 1983–1991. She was Vice-President of ICSI from 1991–1995, President from 1995–2001 (two terms), and Immediate Past President from 2001–2003. Liz Morris served ICSI for 20 years and she led the preparatory process, which allowed ICSI (an IAHS commission) to develop into the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS), the 8th Association of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG).

Her dedicated commitment to ICSI and IACS was just one facet of the way that a young woman who dreamed of becoming a mountain climber transformed into an outstanding polar scientist, who was honoured by the award of both “Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (OBE) in the UK Millennium Honours List for services to Polar Science, and a Polar Medal in 2003.

Liz started her academic career as a student in Physics at the University of Bristol, where she gained a B Sc. in 1968, and her Doctorate of Philosophy (Physics) in 1972. John Nye worked in the same department at Bristol, first as a lecturer, later as Professor of Physics (after 1969), and he helped inspire Liz to become a glaciologist.

After working as a Senior Research Associate in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, from 1973–1975, Liz became a Principal Scientific Officer at the Institute of Hydrology in Wallingford for a decade, where she worked on sophisticated snow modelling. During her time at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) as the Head of the Ice and Climate Division, she dedicated herself to her primary scientific interest in the mass balance and the dynamics of the polar ice sheets, carrying out both field and numerical modelling work in the Arctic and Antarctic. She developed a neutron scattering method for snow density profiling. During this time, she was also a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Innsbruck and Reading. By 2000 Liz became the NERC Arctic Science Adviser to the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) in Cambridge, and since 2006 she has been a Senior Associate of SPRI. Liz spent much time in the field including many nights in a small tent in stormy weather in Antarctica. She travelled more than 3000 km on the Greenland ice sheet on a skidoo, organized, led, and participated in a series of high-end research projects, and produced an exceptional scientific work of lasting impact.

Liz was a pioneer as a female Division Head at BAS, and she initiated a broad discussion, which allowed female scientists to winter on BAS station in Antarctica. She was the first and only female President of ICSI (1995–2001), and she was the first and only female President of the International Glaciological Society (2002–2005).

Liz Morris was a strong, wise and diplomatic President of ICSI. When scientific challenges in the snow and ice research community became increasingly obvious, she led ICSI to become the strongest commission of IAHS, starting a process that led to the creation of IACS. Her successors were ultimately able to fulfil what Liz had initiated: the acceptance of IACS as the 8thAssociation of IUGG. ICSI Bureau members in those days look back to the well-prepared and expertly chaired Bureau meetings, many of them in the UNESCO-IHP Headquarters in Paris. These meetings contained full agendas, intensive and interesting discussions about science and science policy and a President that cared strongly about ICSI and in particular, the people involved.

July 2015