- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: New Hampshire; First Edition edition (March 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1584650613
- ISBN-13: 978-1584650614
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change Hardcover – March 1, 2002
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From Library Journal
Without an understanding of how the climate has fluctuated through time, we have no measure with which to compare current fluctuations. In an attempt to remedy this situation, scientists began drilling an ice core on the Greenland Ice Sheet in 1998. This ice core would then be analyzed to establish a long-term record of the climate and the environment. The Ice Chronicles is the history of that project, as told by its director, Mayewski, along with White (The Overview Effect). They explain how evidence of the climate over the last 100,000 years is held in the ice and how scientists have been using the ice core to decipher it. They also cover the political and scientific climate in which the project was developed, the technical difficulties of drilling an ice core in arctic conditions, and how natural and human-accelerated climate change can be distinguished. Mayewski relates his experiences working in the Arctic and Antarctic and makes the ice core understandable for interested readers. Recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries with a sophisticated clientele interested in global warming and climate change. Betty Galbraith, Owen Science & Engineering Lib., Univ. of Washington, Pullman
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Glaciologist Mayewski directed one of the bigger ice-drilling operations to date, the Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two (GISP2), undertaken in the early 1990s. Although its engineering was impressive, what was truly dramatic about GISP2 was what it revealed about the history of climate over the past 110,000 years. The information is presented in a highly accessible format: the book is packed with photographs of Mayewski's dozen-plus field trips to Greenland and Antarctica and copiously stocked with graphs tracking temperature against the dust, sea salt, and oxygen isotopes, among other elements, fixed in the GISP2 ice cores. Mayewski draws two central conclusions from the data: that climate has dramatically flipped in the past, sometimes in a decade's span, and that human influence is definitely impacting the contemporary climate. He discusses the attention the latter has attracted from international conferences; however, he underscores that changes in climate are not always predictable. The entertaining sidebars of Mayewski's risky adventures in the field will inspire younger readers to think about making his career their own. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
The photo comparison of the Himalayan glacier on page 11 is not as striking as the authors intended. Had it been taken from the same perspective, the reader might have been able to discern the dramatic change. It seems that it was included to indicate Mayewski's wide ranging visits to the world's glaciers.
For such a detailed discussion of ice research and polar matters it is unfortunate that the authors spell the famous polar explorer Finn Ronne as Finn Ronnie
As usual for Kindle; it was cheap for what you get. This was an enjoyable book for its range and its entertainment value but there seemed to be a weird disconnect between its assessments of facts in detail, which was, actually, fact by fact, quite OK, but its broad conclusions, that seem to arise from ideology, have little relationship to the consideration-of-facts section of the book. Thoughout the book you are continually being presented with quite clean facts and then being coyly persuaded to come to the "correct" assessment of them rather than the "nasty immoral" objective one.
Overall, it is rather as if the book was written by three personalities - the first personality is an entertaining globe-trotter and ice-lover. Essentially an intellectual-light-weight; an enthusiast who is nevertheless appealing and entertaining. The next personality is a reasonably dry scientist that carefully and properly balances the inferences from facts against each other. (This is the one I respect) but the third personality is an evangelical "wicked wicked humans cause ice to melt" preacher reminiscent of the "sin-causes-plague" preachers of about 400 to 300 years ago.
So I do not regret buying it for my Kindle as it was cheap for what you get. (As I have regretted wasting my reading time on some rather cheap but mediocre novels). Overall, it was worth buying as a good "read" but a scientific revelation? --- it was not.
The book, published in the fall of 2002, centers on the findings from the two-mile long ice core that Mayewski's team pulled from the center of the Greenland Ice Cap. This ice core, labeled GISP2, allowed scientists to track a wide range of climate variables in exquisite detail over the past 100,000 years. It produced many important findings that can help clarify the highly politicized climate controversy. The core reveals that Earth's climate is far from steady. Even without any contributions from manmade greenhouse gasses, ozone-depleting chemicals or particulates, regional and global conditions have swung from hot to cold and wet to dry many times, often with dramatic suddenness. Mayewski repeatedly makes the point that the climatologically calm, benign Holocene--the time period during which human civilization appeared and has developed--is a myth. The ten millennia or so since the end of the most recent ice age have been marked by two large global climate shifts, the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period, and many less drastic but still potent changes. He also presents intriguing evidence that some of these changes contributed to the downfall of several ancient civilizations, including the Mesopotamian Empire around 1200 BC, the Mayan Civilization around 900 AD, and the Norse colonies in Greenland around 1400 AD.
My only real criticism of the book is that it may present more of the nitty gritty history and findings of the GISP2 project than most readers want or need. Still, most of this is put into boxes which readers can dive into or skip as they choose.
While the research findings and their implications are fascinating, perhaps the most important contribution the authors make is their perspective. The data Mayewksi himself uncovered show that the climate is a complicated and sensitive system, pushed from regime to regime by a variety of natural forces. But Mayewski is equally clear that human activities, most notably the marked and well-documented increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, have joined the party, and must be considered in order to understand current conditions or predict future climate change. And he is clear that unless we take sensible steps to reduce our impacts on the system, we risk not just global warming and whatever changes that would bring, but increased climactic instability and unpredictability. To the authors' credit, they attempt to bring some calm into the climate debates by propounding ten realistic, commonsense principles. The reflect that, "No matter what we do, the climate will change." But they also admonish, "We should strive more for climate predictability than control," and "If we cannot have global control of climate policy, we must at least have global cooperation."
The Ice Chronicles is well worth reading, both for the hard-won scientific facts it presents and explains so clearly, and for the constructive, down-to-earth perspective it provides.
Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation. (John Wiley & Sons, September 2002).