Shi Yafeng

AWARDEE OF EARTH SCIENCES PRIZE

SHI YAFENG

Abstract

Professor Shi Yafeng,a geographer,was born in Haimen County,Jiangsu Province on 21 March 1919.He graduated from the Zhejiang University in 1942 and got an M.A.in the same university in 1944.During the 1940's,he conducted research on geomorphology in southwestern China.Since the 1950's,he has been working mainly in the Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology (LIGG),and the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology (NIGL),Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).Now he is an academician of the CAS,a research professor of the NIGL,honorary director of the LIGG,honorary member of the International Glaciological Society,honorary member of the Royal London Geological Society.He was former president of the Chinese Geographical Society,former director of the LIGG,former council member of the International Glaciological Society and International Permafrost Association.He has received one of the first class and one of the third class awards of the National Natural Science Prizes,and several awards from the CAS.
Professor Shi is considered as the founder of Modern Glaciology in China.Since 1958,he has organized a lot of glaciological expeditions into the mountains in the northwestern China and on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.Based on the extensive investigations on Glaciology,he summarized the geographical and physical characteristics of mountain glaciers in the High Asia.During the intensive study on the large Batura Glacier in Pakistan karakorum Mountains,Professor Shi proposed,for the first time,the method of fluctuating ice discharge balance for the quantitative prediction of glacier advancing in the 1970's~1980's and retreating afterwards.The forecast has been proven correct and successfully solved the problems on the line selection of the Sino-Pakistan Highway involved with the glacial hazards.As a result,he won an international fame on mountain glaciology.
Professor Shi discovered that the maximum glaciation occurred at 0.8-0.6 million years ago on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau,with an areal extent of about 500 000km2.However,these glaciers had not been unified into one ice sheet.Professor Shi also initiated and did systematic research in order to clarify the long-debated problems on the Quaternary glaciations in the eastern China,concluding that the Pleistocene glaciations were limited to mountainous regions with elevations above about 3 000 ma.s.l.Other reports on the Quaternary glaciation of the low and middle mountains in eastern China,such as Lushan Mountains and Huangshan Mountains were all misinterpreted.This gave a sound answer on the long-disputed problem in the geomorphology and Quaternary geology.
Professor Shi has been enthusiastically promoting interdisciplinary sciences,such as the permafrost investigations,remediation of the debris flow hazards,the formation and utilization of the water resources in northwestern China,the formation,evolution and the environmental changes of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau,the impacts of the global warming on the water resources,and the sea level change.