John Nye (scientist)

John Frederick Nye (26 February 1923[1] – 8 January 2019[2]) was the first physicist to apply plasticity to understand glacier flow.[3][4] Nye's early work was on the physics of plasticity, spanning ice rheology, ice flow mechanics, laboratory ice flow measurements, glacier surges, meltwater penetration in ice, and response of glaciers and ice sheets to seasonal and climatic changes. Later in his long career, he worked extensively in optics, publishing his last paper on electromagnetic wave polarization only a few days before his death.[5]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976.[4][6] He has served as president of the International Glaciological Society (1966–9),[4] who awarded him the Seligman Crystal in 1969 for outstanding contributions to glaciology,[7] and was also president of the International Commission of Snow and Ice of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (1971–5).[8] The Cryosphere Focus Group of the American Geophysical Union hosts a Nye Lecture each year at its fall meeting.[9]

Nye won the Chree medal and prize in 1989.

Nye was Emeritus Professor in Physics at the University of Bristol, UK.[10] In addition to glaciology, his research interests included caustics and microwave probes.[10]

Nye died on 8 January 2019 at age 95 after a heart failure.[2]


  • J.F. Nye, 1957, Physical Properties of Crystals: Their Representation by Tensors and Matrices. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-851165-6
  • J.F. Nye, 1999, Natural Focusing and Fine Structure of Light: Caustics and Wave Dislocations. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-7503-0610-2

Scientific publicationsEdit

  • 1951, The flow of glaciers and ice-sheets as a problem in plasticity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A-Mathematical And Physical Sciences, 207(1091),554-572.
  • 1952, The mechanics of glacier flow. J. Glaciol. 2 (1952), pp. 82–93
  • 1953, The flow law of ice from measurements in glacier tunnels, laboratory experiments and the Jungfraufirn Borehole Experiment. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A-Mathematical And Physical Sciences, 219(1139), 477-489.
  • 1958, Surges in Glaciers, Nature 181, 1450–1451
  • 1959. The motion of ice sheets and glaciers. J. Glaciol., 3(26), 493-507.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Merchant, Paul. "National Life Stories an Oral History to British Sciences" (PDF). The British Library Board. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "John F. Nye 1923–2019". International Glaciological Society. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. ^ Lalena, John N.; David A. Cleary (2005). Principles of Inorganic Materials Design. WileyIEEE. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-471-71488-0.
  4. ^ a b c Certificates of Election and Candidature, RefNo EC/1976/26: Nye, John Frederick. Royal Society. Accessed 2009-04-26.
  5. ^ Nye, J F (1 January 2019). "Perturbing the polarisation of Riemann–Silberstein electromagnetic vortices". Journal of Optics. 21 (1): 015002. doi:10.1088/2040-8986/aaef24.
  6. ^ Berry, Sir Michael (2020). "John Frederick Nye. 26 February 1923—8 January 2019". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 69: 425–441. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2020.0002. S2CID 219546989.
  7. ^ The Seligman Crystal. International Glaciological Society. Accessed 2009-04-26.
  8. ^ Radok, Uwe (1997). "The International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI) and its precursors, 1894-1994" (PDF). Hydrological Sciences–Journal des Sciences Hydrologique. 42 (2): 131–140. doi:10.1080/02626669709492015.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ AGU Cryosphere Focus Group Nye Lecture History. American Geophysical Union website. Accessed 2009-04-26.
  10. ^ a b John Nye: Home page. University of Bristol. Accessed 2009-04-26.

External linksEdit