Vladimir M. Kotlyakov (born in 1931) is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (elected in 1991). He is Director of the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. With a particular interest in glaciology and physical geography in polar and mountain regions, he directed the twenty-year project which resulted in the World Atlas of Snow and Ice Resources, published in 1997. V. M. Kotlyakov has participated in many expeditions, and has worked and wintered in the Arctic, Antarctica, on the slopes of Europe’s highest summit, the Elbrus, and headed the high mountain glaciological expeditions to the Pamirs. The main theoretical results of his work consist of elucidation of the laws of snow and ice accumulation of the Antarctic ice sheet, as well as ice sheets in general (1961), the snowiness of the earth and its fluctuations within time and space (1968), the tasks and abilities of space glaciology (1973), the application of isotope and geochemical methods to the study of the environment and its evolution (1982), and the study of the past for four glacial–interglacial cycles (1985 and onwards). In recent years he has dealt with global changes of the environment, geographical aspects of global and regional ecological problems, and the problems of interaction between nature and society. V. M. Kotlyakov is Vice-president of the Russian Geographical Society and President of the Glaciological Association. In 1983–7, he was elected President of the International Commission of Snow and Ice, in 1987–93, he was a member of the Special, and later Scientific, ICSU Committee of the International Geosphere–Biosphere Program, and, in 1988–96, became Vice-president of the International Geographical Union. Currently a member of the Earth Council, he has also been elected a member of the Academia Europaea and the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, and is an honorary member of the American, Mexican, Italian, Georgian, and Estonian Geographical Societies.