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Pioneering polar expert, geologist John Splettstoesser dies at 82

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John Splettstoesser in Antarctica
John Splettstoesser in the Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica.
Tom Bastien

Geologist John Splettstoesser has died. The researcher and polar expert was born in Minnesota, and he passed away in Waconia, Minn., at the age of 82. 

Most of his field work was spent in Antarctica, where he has a glacier and a mountain named after him. To learn more about Splettstoesser's life, MPR News host Tom Crann talked to Will Steger, another polar researcher and explorer from Minnesota who was under Splettstoesser's mentorship for some time.

Splettstoesser, or "Spletts" as he was known by those close to him, did some of the "pioneering field work" in Antarctica, Steger said.

"It was some of the early work in that area, and back then, it was real discovery," Steger said. "Real research."

He helped scientists and the public understand glaciers and the climate, Steger said, continuing his research right up until his death.

"I just got an email from him about a week ago. We were corresponding on a book," Steger said.

Splettstoesser did field work around the world, worked as a teacher and was president of the American Polar Society from 2003 to 2006. He graduated from the University of Minnesota.

Use the audio player above to hear the entire conversation between Steger and Crann.