Prof. Dr. V.N. Konishchev 1938-2020


With sadness the IPA records the passing of Professor Dr Vyacheslav Nikolaevich Konishchev, of the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, on July 21, 2020. Professor Konishchev was well known to geocryologists world-wide, and made visits to colleagues in several other countries over his career. Perhaps a highlight was his visit to Garry Island with Ross Mackay, 6 – 9 December 1974. He was known to us as “Kony”. The IPA extends our sincere condolences to the family and colleagues of Professor Konishchev.
We are grateful to his colleagues for preparing the following obituary. 

Christopher Burn
President, 2020-24


In Memoriam
Professor Dr. Vyacheslav Nikolaevich Konishchev
14/02/1938 – 21/07/2020

Vyacheslav Nikolaevich Konishchev, Doctor of Geography, Professor of the Lomonosov Moscow State University passed on July 21, 2020, after a prolonged illness.

Vyacheslav Konishchev was born on 14 February 1938 in Moscow. In 1955 he enrolled in the Faculty of Geography at Moscow State University, from which he graduated in 1960 with a degree in physical geography. Since then, he was continuously linked with Moscow State University, moving from Senior Laboratory Assistant to Professor. In 1965 Konishchev defended his Ph.D. thesis Genesis and paleogeographic conditions for the formation of loess-like cover in the eastern part of the Bolshezemelskaya tundra, and in 1978 his doctoral dissertation Cryogenic weathering as a factor in the formation of loess-like formations in Northern Eurasia. Konishchev became an internationally renowned permafrost scientist and geographer, teacher, and organizer. He published over 250 scientific and educational-methodical works, including seven monographs and nine textbooks, with several of his works published abroad. His research work was focused on the significance and geography of cryogenesis within the system of natural processes on Earth, the dynamics and transformation of minerals in permafrost, and evolution and the geoecological role of the Earth’s cryosphere.

During his time at Moscow State University, he organized and conducted field research in various regions of the Russian Arctic and participated in expeditions to the Canadian Arctic and high-mountain regions of Tibet. The materials obtained in these expeditions allowed him to solve a number of fundamental scientific problems. He developed a fundamentally new understanding of the stability of minerals, inherent only in the permafrost zone. On this theoretical basis, Konishchev discovered the cryogenic nature of the mineral matter of loess-likedeposits; substantiated the polygenetic nature of the ice complex of Siberia; and showed the leading role of cryogenesis in the formation of the mineral matter of these widespread deposits. The concept of the expanding Earth cryosphere, proposed by Konishchev, has gained great scientific significance. In recent years, Konishchev developed the concept of the heterogenic response of various landscapes of the permafrost zone to climate change.

Professor Konishchev was active in teaching for more than half a century. His professionalism and engagement with students and young professionals facilitated the development of a strong department. Professor Konishchev was Chair of the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology from 1993 to 2017. He taught classes on Foundations of Permafrost Science, Permafrost Regions and Evolution of Earth Cryosphere, and Methods of Permafrost Investigations. He directed nine Ph.D. theses and one Doctor of Science. Konishchev was a great proponent of outreach and actively participated in dissemination of permafrost information through interviews and popular media. Konishchev also worked as a science councillor of the Faculty of Geography, was on a science board of the Russian Academy of Science, and was active as an expert for the Russian Science Foundation and the Russian Scientific Fund for Basic Research. Konishchev was on the editorial board of Vestnik MGU, Earth Cryosphere, Engineering Geology, and Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, among others. He was awarded the honorary title “Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation” in 1998 and “Honored Professor of Moscow State University” in 2004. Konishchev was a secretary of the Terminology Commission of the International Permafrost Association (IPA). His colleagues and students remember him as an outstanding scientist, talented teacher, inspiring leader, and a kind man.

On behalf of the Department of Cryolithology and Glaciology, Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University.