The 2021 Julia and Johannes Weertman Medal is awarded to Martyn Tranter for his outstanding fundamental contributions in the innovative and emerging field of glacial biogeochemistry, leading to the paradigm shift in recognizing bio-albedo effects.
Martyn Tranter is a professor at the School of Geographical Sciences of the University of Bristol, UK. Being trained in environmental sciences, he has been an innovative and creative force in glacial biogeochemistry, essentially creating the discipline. Tranter’s research covers a wide range of subjects, from acid precipitation in alpine systems through snow and glacier melt chemistry to the effect of glacial “ecosystems” on ice sheet albedo. He also studied biogeochemical processes in Antarctic subglacial lakes, hence quantifying ice sheet input of nutrients into the polar oceans. In so doing, Tranter merged state-of-the-art biogeochemical and microbiological approaches with a detailed understanding of hydrological processes to study glaciers and ice sheets in a completely new way. He explored the impact of ice algae on the decrease of albedo of the Greenland ice sheet decades before this process was widely recognized.
His research has not only changed the way chemistry of glacial runoff is interpreted, but it has also spawned a new discipline in the world of glaciology for how biological processes occur under and on glaciers and ice sheets. This new sub-discipline within glaciology was recognized in a recent dedicated issue in Annals of Glaciology and an IGS International Symposium on the Cryosphere and Biosphere.
Tranter has had a superlative career; he is the leader in his field, a productive scholar, a great mentor, and trainer of young scientists, and he has provided important service to his peers and community. He has trained an unusually large number of research students at both masters and the doctoral level. A significant number of his former students have pursued academic careers in glaciology. He is clearly very deserving of the 2021 Julia and Johannes Weertman Medal.