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Austin Post, pioneering glaciologist who inspired 'Chasing Ice' photographer, dies at 90

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Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012 9:34 am | Updated: 1:59 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

In the credits for the new movie, "Chasing Ice," which records the retreat of glaciers in Alaska, Greenland and Iceland, glacier scientist Austin Post is recognized for his pioneering work in time-lapse photography.

In fact, National Geographic photographer James Balog says the Extreme Ice Survey, the photography undertaking that led to the documentary, was due in part to Post. "Glacier Ice," published in 1971, includes many photos of Alaska glaciers  by Post.

"I was inspired by a book I saw in graduate school that had black and white photos shot by Austin Post, a research scientist for the United States Geological Survey at that time," he said in a recent National Geographic blog post. "The guy had an understanding of glaciers that was as sensitive and intimate as people are to their spouses. In my head, I can still see these glittering icy peaks with gigantic glaciers pouring down and big black pieces of ice separating the ice streams in extraordinary shapes—otherworldly places that were far outside of the reality we live in."

The movie, which is getting good reviews,  had its debut in Toronto and New York three days before Post died in Dupont, Wash. at 90. He lived in Washington, but worked a great deal in Alaska. He often traveled to Fairbanks over the years and was friends with Celia Hunter and Ginny Wood.

After a showing of "Chasing Ice" in Seattle, filmmaker Jeff Orlowski was brought by friends of Post down to visit Austin in DuPont on Oct. 23 and showed him the film.

In 2004, Post received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks for his contributions to glaciology. Post liked the wilderness and never liked crowds, so UAF Chancellor Marshall Lind went down to Washington to present the degree.
"His body of work is used as the basis for ongoing studies in glaciology at UAF's Geophysical Institute and around the world. After more than 20 years documenting glaciers for the USGS and the University of Washington, Post is credited with one of the most extensive photograph collections of glaciers in the world as well as predicting the retreat of Alaska's Columbia glacier and potential hazards in shipping lanes due to ice flows," UAF said in 2004.


Here is his obituary from the Tacoma News-Tribune:


Austin Stuart Post Passed away on Monday, November 12, 2012 in Dupont, WA at the age of 90 years. Austin was a noted research hydrologist and glacier photographer.
His work for the U.S. Geological Survey and associations with the Universities of Washington and Alaska included aerial photography of glaciers from Alaska to Patagonia and Greenland.
He co-authored "Glacier Ice" with Edward LaChapelle in 1971. In his early years Austin worked as a forest fire lookout. He served four years in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Austin became an accomplished carpenter and builder of residential and commercial buildings, as well as a boat builder.
Later he worked as a cartographer and surveyor. He was born in Chelan, WA on March 16, 1922. In his early years, he attended school in Chelan, WA. When he was 15 years old, Austin dropped out of high school during the depression and participated in the government programs for youth, including building cedar furniture for the U.S. Forest Service.
The desk he built of Alaska Cedar wood is still there today in the Port Angeles office on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. In 2004, Austin was given an Honorary Doctor of Sciences degree by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
He was the son of Asa Holcomb Post and Beatrice Stuart Post. Asa, an orchardist and a photographer, was a direct descendant of Stephen Post, a founder of the city of Hartford, CT whose family traced back to Abraham and Thomas Poste of Holling-bourne, Kent, England.
Preceding Austin in death was his sister Phyllis Post Hubbard, of Vashon Island, WA, nephew Austin Bruce Hubbard, and his former wife Elisabeth Black "Betty" Post, mother of his sons. Surviving Austin are his wife of 28 years Roberta Post, sons Charles Austin Post (Pen Post), Richard Hubley Post (Susan Bartlett), adopted son Charles Anthony Post (Debbie), stepchildren Melinda Patience, Alice Salinero, Bonnie Patience, and Art Patience, brother-in-law Henry Winfield Hubbard, nephews Stuart Hubbard and Philip Hubbard, niece Mary Wise, former wives Lucy Varty, Patricia Hubbard, and Marjorie Pickett (mother of his adopted son), and surro-gate grandchildren Kevin and Kim Ward and great-grand-children Austin Cole Ward and Parker Stuart Ward.
At Austin's request, there will be no services
 
Here is the trailer of "Chasing Ice."

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