Müller, Fritz

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Photograph needed for Fritz Müller


Fritz Müller 1926 (Sünikon, Steinmaur, Zurich, Switzerland)_ - 1980 (Rhone Glacier, Switzerland)


Prof. Dr Fritz Muller's died on 26 July 1980 during a field excursion on the Rhone Glacier where he and his students had recently established a new field programme of glaciological and hydrological studies. To the very end he showed much enthusiasm for research in earth science and had the capacity for inspiring his colleagues and young scientists.

Professor Muller's academic career began in 1954, when he graduated in Geography and Geology at the University of Zurich and took part in Dr Lauge Koch's Danish East Greenland Expeditions. In 1956 he became a scientific member of the Swiss Mt Everest Expedition, which moved him definitely to concentrate his scientific life on research in' the field of cold region hydrology.

More than 100 titles of publications provide proof of his endeavours, not only to observe and analyse, but also to bring the findings to the attention of the scientific world. It all started with his studies on pingos, a special feature of water and frost action in the Arctic. In 1959 he was appointed as Scientific Leader of the Jacobsen-McGill University (Montreal) Expeditions to Axel Heiberg Island, Northwest Territories. This was the decisive chance which greatly determined his scientific life and which allowed him to develop his outstanding capabilities to organize expeditions and research work in the Canadian Arctic.

After 1961 he became an Associate Professor of Glaciology at McGill University. The numerous scientific observations and results achieved by him and his many collaborators reveal the hard and extensive work carried out throughout these years. The Axel Heiberg Research Program, directed by Fritz Muller, focussed upon snow and ice, the determinative hydrological factors in these regions. It covered the broad range of glaciology including topics specifically of interest to hydrology such as heat balance, accumulation, ablation of snow and ice, water flow through the glacier, and water balance.

In 1970, when he returned to Zurich as Professor of Geography and Glaciology and became Head of the Institute of Geography at the Federal Institute of Technology, he was able to continue his Arctic research activities. It was even possible for him and his group to engage in another very interesting long-term project, the glacio-climatological investigation of the North Water Polynya in Northern Baffin Bay.

In 1976 the Glacier Inventory of the Swiss Alps was completed and published under his leadership. At the same time Fritz Muller took over the Temporary Technical Secretariat for the UNESCO/UNEP/IAHS Project of a World Glacier Inventory. Parallel to this mandate, he was appointed as Director of the International Permanent Service on the Fluctuations of Glaciers (IAHS/IUGG-FAGS/ICSU). Besides these international activities, Prof. Muller was responsible for organizing his institute and teaching his students, which he did with the same personal persuasive power and enthusiasm.

Professor Fritz Muller's name is recorded in the "Miiller Ice Cap" on Axel Heiberg Island in memory of his achievements in the exploration of the Arctic. In 1981 the Müller ice shelf to the southwest of Hooke Point in southwest Lallemand Fjord, Arrowsmith Peninsula, Loubet Coast, Antractic Peninsular was named by the United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) in memory of Fritz Muller

Hydrological Achievements[edit]

A pioneer in glacial and periglacial studies in Switzerland and the Arctic. Coordinator of the glacier inventory pf the Swiss Alps and technical secretary of the UNESCO/UNEP/IAHS world glacier inventory

Reference Material[edit]

Herbert Lang (1981) Obituary, Hydrological Sciences Bulletin, 26:3, 332-333, DOI: 10.1080/02626668109490893

Wikipedia entry for Fritz Müller

Arctic Institute of North America obituary

Major Publications[edit]

Müller, F., 1962. Zonation in the accumulation area of the glaciers of Axel Heiberg Island, NWT, Canada. Journal of Glaciology, 4, pp.302-311.

Havens, J.M., Müller, F. and Wilmot, G.C., 1965. Comparative meteorological survey and a short-term heat balance study of the White Glacier. Axel Heiberg Island Res. Rept., McGill Univ., Meteorology, 4, p.68.

Blachut, T.J. and Müller, F., 1966. Some fundamental considerations on glacier mapping. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 3(6), pp.747-759.

Müller, F. and Barr, W., 1966. Postglacial isostatic movement in northeastern Devon Island, Canadian Arctic archipelago. Arctic, pp.263-269.

Kasser, P. and Muller, F., 1967. Fluctuations of Glaciers: 1959-1965 (Vol. 1). International Association of Scientific Hydrology, IASH.

Jonas, J.J. and Müller, F., 1969. Deformation of ice under high internal shear stresses. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 6(4), pp.963-968.

Müller, F., 1969. Was the Good Friday Glacier on Axel Heiberg Island surging?. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 6(4), pp.891-894.

Müller, F. and Keeler, C.M., 1969. Errors in short-term ablation measurements on melting ice surfaces. J. Glaciol, 8(52), pp.91-105.

Ommanney, C.S.L., Goodman, R.H. and Müller, F., 1969. Computer analysis of a glacier inventory of Axel Heiberg Island: Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 14(1), pp.19-28.

Müller, F. and Iken, A., 1973. Velocity fluctuations and water regime of Arctic valley glaciers. International Association of Scientific Hydrology Publication, 95, pp.165-182.

Müller, F., 1976. On the thermal regime of a high-Arctic valley glacier. Journal of Glaciology, 16, pp.119-133.

Müller, F., Ohmura, A. and Braithwaite, R., 1977. The north water project (Canadian‐Greenland arctic). Polar geography, 1(1), pp.75-85.

Müller, F., Caflisch, T. and Müller, G., 1977. Instructions for compilation and assemblage of data for a World Glacier Inventory. Zürich: Department of Geography, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).

Müller, F., 1977, Horizontal movement of fast ice in the North Water area, J. Glaciol., 19, 547–554.

Hambrey, M.J. and Müller, F., 1978. Structures and ice deformation in the white glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. Journal of Glaciology, 20, pp.41-66.

Braithwaite, R.J. and Müller, F., 1980. On the parameterization of glacier equilibrium line altitude. IAHS Publ, 126, pp.263-271.

Ambach, W. and Müller, F., 1980. Determination of net accumulations from gross beta activity measurements in the North Water Region. Polarforschung, 50(1/2), pp.1-7.