Mourning the loss of visionary Arctic researcher, Dr. David Barber
The University of Manitoba is sad to share news of the passing of Dr. David G. Barber [BPE/82, MNRM/88] on Friday, April 15, 2022, following complications from cardiac arrest.
Dr. Barber was one of Canada’s most influential and accomplished Arctic researchers. A Distinguished Professor at UM, Founding Director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS), and Associate Dean Research of the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources, he also held a Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Science and Climate Change.
Through his vision, leadership and endless efforts, Dr. Barber established UM as a global leader in Arctic research.
“Beyond the many friends and colleagues David Barber worked with and shared life with here at UM, his legacy extends throughout the research community around the world,” says Michael Benarroch, UM President and Vice Chancellor. “His passing has affected all those whose lives he touched while studying the Arctic, its role in Earth’s changing climate and life on our planet. He will be greatly missed.”
Dr. Barber is best known for his groundbreaking work on snow over sea ice and application of satellite technologies for their characterization. Most notably he had a talented ability to see links between the ocean, ice and atmosphere across scales, and connections with people and habitat. Coupled with his incredible drive and perseverance, he was instrumental in the development of many large international multidisciplinary networks for Arctic research, including Network of Centres of Excellence ArcticNet, the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES), the International Polar Year – Circumpolar Flaw-Lead study (IPY-CFL), and more recently the Hudson Bay System Study (BaySys).
Dr. Barber’s dedication also helped secure major Arctic research infrastructure, such as the Canadian research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, and the Churchill Marine Observatory (CMO). His tireless work has helped to place Canada at the forefront of Arctic research, and created opportunity for innumerable students, professors and research staff collectively working to better understand the rapidly changing Arctic, and its impacts on people, diverse habitats in the Arctic and beyond.
Dr. Barber was also a gifted speaker who could express complex scientific ideas into terms that policymakers, media and the public could easily understand. It was this ability that not only led to signature outreach programs, including Schools on Board and Expedition Churchill: Gateway to Arctic Research, but also to fostering strong university-industry research partnerships, most notably with Manitoba Hydro.
Dr. Barber’s extraordinary ability and contributions have been recognized with the highest awards and distinctions, including Officer of the Order of Canada, Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and the Northern Science Award for exemplary achievement in the field of northern research (Polar Knowledge Canada). He was also recognized through an honorary doctorate from the Université Laval.
According to his colleagues at CEOS, Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources: “David was a visionary researcher with a passion for the Arctic, a scholar with an entrepreneurial spirit, and a generous mentor and friend. Despite his numerous professional accomplishments, David was first and foremost a family man. He has touched the lives of countless people and will be missed greatly. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, and with all who knew him.”
The flag on the Administration Building on Fort Garry campus will be lowered on April 23 to honour Dr. Barber.
He is survived by his wife (Lucette) and three children: Jeremy (Jodi), Julien, and Jamie (Luke), his step-grandson (Ryden), and grandson (Luca).
A Celebration of Life event to honour Dr. Barber was livestreamed on April 23, 2022.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please consider contributing to the David & Victor Barber Memorial Scholarship to honour Dr. Barber’s commitment to the next generation of Arctic researchers. The scholarship helps support students excelling in the field of Arctic sciences and climate change.