Moira Dunbar, OC, FRSC, glaciologist; born February 3, 1918, died November 22, 1999

MOIRA Dunbar was a distinguished Arctic scientist. For

her research work from the air and at sea she received the Order of Canada and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada. She was a governor of the Arctic Institute of North America and a director of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, awarded the society's Massey Medal and the Centennial Award of the Canadian Meteorological Service.

Moira Isobel Dunbar was born in Edinburgh and educated at Cranley School for Girls. Her father, William John Dunbar, was a well-known sheriff and advocate at the Scottish Bar and the family lived in Stornaway, Strathpeffer, and Kilmarnock. She graduated in geography from Oxford University in 1939.

Throughout and after the Second World War, she toured the UK with the professional English Theatre, acting and undertaking stage management. She later recalled: ''I was hopeless as a young ingenue. I was what is known as a character juvenile, which meant playing a long string of comic maids.''

In 1947 she arrived in Canada on a visitor's permit and immediately found work with the federal government in Ottawa, where the Defence Research Board was seeking geography graduates. An instant expert in the field, she specialised in sea ice and studied Arctic conditions in order to make the frozen waters more easily navigable. However, despite her value as a scientist, she soon faced a barrier.

A specialist in sea ice, she applied to join a Royal Canadian Navy icebreaker carrying a team of scientists to the Arctic in 1954. Despite her having appropriate qualifications and experience, a man was contracted from England because Naval vessels would not take a woman.

Over the next six months, she persevered in her requests until it reached ministerial level, when she was finally granted permission to join a transport department icebreaker. On board, she experienced initial hostility and she later recalled: ''I think they regarded me as some sort of cross between a delicate flower and a dangerous disease.They were against

it from the start, partly because the only places you could

stay were air force stations and that was 'no place for a woman'. I think they expected me to go around seducing all the men, or something.''

Before long, senior officials were well aware of the ambitious Scot who sought freedom to study. ''It was all because I was a woman,'' she recalled.

''There were so many people against taking me up that the matter went right up to Deputy Minister level. However, he decided I was probably harmless.''

Despite the early difficulties over her gender, she was eventually accepted as a valued member of the team and the issue never arose again.

Although the majority of her trips were on icebreakers, she clocked up almost 600 hours flying time in Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft - a considerable achievement - studying ice formations from the air.

She also collaborated with a well-known RCAF navigator, Wing Commander, later Air Commodore, Keith Green-

away, in 1956 to write Arctic Canada from the Air. It was the first airborne geographical study of its kind and is still in demand today.

She published numerous academic papers. Her early work analysed literature of the early explorers, followed by research based on cruises and reconnaissance flights. She became one of the first women to fly over the North Pole.

She learned Russian to enable her to translate and interpret Soviet Arctic studies, and visited the country in 1964 with a government party to study Russian icebreaking operations.

Dunbar was an observer in

the first Arctic trials of hovercraft, was involved in testing supertanker use in ice, and

was the Canadian co-ordinator of the first successful attempt to evaluate satellite photography for ice reconnaissance.

In 1976 she took part in airborne laser profiling of Arctic Ocean ice, while the British submarine, HMS Sovereign, profiled the ice bottom.

Her many published papers include High Latitude Navigational Flights (Arctic Circular, 1951); Ice Islands: Evidence from North Greenland (Arctic, 1953); The Royal Arctic Theatre (Canadian Art, 1958); and Thrust Structures in Young Sea Ice (Journal of Glaciology, 1960).

She retired in 1978, having received the Order of Canada and fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada. She was a governor of the Arctic Institute of North America, director of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, winner

of the society's Massey Medal and Centennial Award winner of the Canadian

Meteorological Service.

Moira Dunbar, who never married, was pre-deceased by her brother, Maxwell, a marine biologist who was also made OC and FRSC. She is survived by her sister, Elizabeth Jenkins.