2017 News

Obituary: Prof Charles Bentley (1929-2017)

24 August 2017:

Charles BentleyThe death has been announced of Charles R Bentley, who died on 19 August in Oakland, California, USA, at the age of 87.  

Bentley was a glaciologist and geophysicist who worked in Antarctica for six decades and dedicated much of his career to studying the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the continent beneath.  In 1957, during the IGY (International Geophysical Year, 1957-58), he was a member of the first team to traverse the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in tracked vehicles, making detailed measurements of the depth of the ice sheet and discovering it to be 3km thick in places.  The Bentley Subglacial Trench, discovered during this expedition, is named after him.  At around 2.5 km below sea level, it is the deepest point on earth not covered by ocean.

Bentley joined the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1961, where he continued his research into understanding ice sheets and was instrumental in mentoring and encouraging generations of glaciologists and geophysicists.  He published more than 200 papers during his career and continued working after his official retirement, leading the UW-Madison’s Ice Drilling Design and Operations programme until 2013.

SCAR benefited greatly from Bentley's knowledge and expertise over three decades.  During the 1970s and 1980s, he was a member of the SCAR Working Group on Solid Earth Geophysics, including a period serving as Secretary of the group. He served as a SCAR Vice President from 1990 to 1994, and was Chief Officer of the SCAR Group of Specialists on Global Change and the Antarctic (GLOCHANT) from 1992 to 1998.

In addition to the deepest trench, Bentley also had a mountain named after him - Mount Bentley is the highest peak in the Ellsworth Mountains.  In 1971, he received the Bellingshausen-Lazarev Medal from the Soviet Academy of Sciences and, in 1990, he was awarded the Seligman Crystal of the International Glaciological Society for his extensive contributions to Antarctic glaciological research.

For more details, see the obituary on the University of Wisconsin-Madison website