Carl Benson


Carl Benson

Carl Benson moved to the far northern city of Fairbanks in 1960, but in some ways it was a relocation southward.

By the time he arrived at UAF's Geophysical Institute, Benson already had spent years as an ice and snow researcher in Greenland and on Alaska's North Slope.

In the 1950s, Benson joined multiple expeditions into Greenland's interior to collect measurements that are still used in comparisons to today's conditions. The longest trip, using Weasel tracked vehicles, required 120 days and four supply drops from aircraft.

Benson, who grew up in Minnesota, had an early fascination with snow and ice. He continued to pursue that interest for decades at UAF, where he studied glaciers, ice fog, stream flow and snow conditions. He retired from teaching in 1987 but remains active as a professor emeritus.

Benson and his wife, Ruth, raised three children in Fairbanks and have been involved in many community undertakings and issues. Benson occasionally shares his views via an amusing format — newspaper columns and letters to the editor reporting on his conversations with a fictional friend in Minnesota, "Bengt Carlsson," who always has some pithy advice for Alaskans. 

At Geophysical Institute holiday parties, Benson would lead the singing of "Ice is Nice," an anthem he penned using a simple refrain: "Ice is nice and good for you, snow makes glaciers grow."

More online about Carl Benson:

  • A profile in the fall 2016 edition of UAF's Aurora magazine:
  • A column describing his Greenland work from the 1950s
  • A 2014 example of one of his "conversations" with Bengt