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Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery Paperback – August 29, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0674440753 ISBN-10: 0674440757

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Such a full and interesting treatment of this subject was long overdue. (New York Times)

An absorbing account of one of the great quests of geologic science. (Science)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (August 29, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674440757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674440753
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Roger McEvilly (the guilty bystander) on May 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a geologist, this book answered a lot of questions I've had concerning the cause(s) of the ice ages. I'd known about rumours about the configuration of the continents, Milankovitch's astronomical cycles, variation in sun output, changes in ocean currents, and so on, for some years, but I really needed a detailed analysis of the historical arguments, and the more recent evidence as to why these changes in the earth's climate occur. This book answers just about all I needed to know, as well as being a good study of historical science. It was some time before all the pieces began to fit, and there are still some unexplained aspects, such as why the 100,000 glacial cycle is stronger than the 20,000 and 40,000 year cycles. Also, early arguments revolving around the Biblical flood are enlightening.
This book details all the theories, and the history behind their development. From deep sea radiolarians, to terraced reefs in the equatorial regions, to vegetation studies in Europe, to the level of snow on Ethiopia's mountains, to axis and ellitpical variations in the earth's orbit, to the gravitational effect of the pull on the earth from other planets, to oxygen isotope studies, to graphs of variation in thermal energy, temperature and sea level at different lattitudes-both expected from Milankovitch cycles-and actual from deep sea analysis, this book pretty much covers all you need to know. The only drawback is it has missed a few recent ideas in the 1980s to 1990s, but the story was pretty much over by then. Pretty conclusive evidence is detailed on how regular and episodic variations in the earth's orbit around the sun trigger periodically cooler climates than at present. These have been particularly strong in the last 1.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tim Parshall on September 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
You should read this book if you are at all interested in ice ages, geology, history of science, climate change, or just a good story. It's a quick but thorough telling of the discovery of the ice ages and how their nature and origin have been slowly uncovered over the following 150 years (and still going!). No other book does so much in such a short space on the subject. One of the authors was personally involved in the story, so he has insider authority. Unfortunately, this probably accounts for the slower pace of the last few chapters, where events close to him are described in much greater detail. And even though the book is only 15 years old the last chapter (on a future ice age and the potential for global warming) seems outdated. Still, the book is well worth a quick read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Jones on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
In addition to providing an interesting explanation for long-term climate change, this book gives a fascinating account of the dawning realization first that the Earth had ever experienced an Ice Age, then that the Earth had in fact experienced numerous Ice Ages, and finally that the Ice Ages have come and gone in time with variations in the Earth's orbit. While some of the early work was carried out by the usual lot of well-bred and well-educated (but sometimes eccentric) elites, the stories behind Croll and Milankovitch leave one amazed at the degree of focus that some individuals can bring to bear on a problem. It is a level of obsession and dedication that has to excite a certain amount of admiration.
I thus recommend this book for its historic, personal, and scientific content. Read it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Busdiecker on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a readable account of the historical explanations for the ice ages. It provides some details of the lives of those involved in the building of the theory and the issues encounter in bring it to the front on science. The book also provide details on the current theory including the geological and astronomical evidence to support it. In addition in the last short section attempts to project in to the future what should be expected and a little of what is occurring that may change that. If you wish to know about the current ice age theory this is certainly one book to consider.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By simon@spacer.com on December 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book a couple of years ago and was engrossed from cover to cover as i learnt about the Ice Ages the processes that are thought to drive them over millions of years.
According to the authors a complex motion of changes in the axis of Earth across all its cycles leads eventually to the conditions that result in a cascading drop in temperatures that eventually corrects itself via other climatic processes.
Easy to read and understand while maintaining a good narative of scientific process and discovery.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Atheen M. Wilson on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found this a well written account of the subject. The authors include an extensive history of the intellectual development of the concept as well as scientific documentation of the cyclical nature of ice ages. This would be a good book to read along with The Ice Finders, which is a somewhat more intimate account of the early research on ice ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul D. Farrar on July 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a book everyone interested in climate and the ice ages (and how science is done) should read. It is the account of one of the great scientific revolutions of our time, the confirmation of Milankovitch's theory on the timing of the ice ages by Earth's orbital variations, by some of the leading participants, written not too long afterward. It is readily understandable by a novice, but provides interesting background for professionals (We often get the finished product, without the story of how that product came about.) There have been a lot of developments since then, particularly on mechanisms, but this work provides the story of the connection.
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Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery + The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future
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