The Ice at the End of the World -- Jon Gertner

Staff Pick

Once written off as an icy wasteland “of no use to mankind,” Greenland over the last century has come to occupy a major role in climate change studies. In this fascinating history of the world’s largest island, Gertner recounts how that shift came about. A study of extremes, the book is divided into two parts that could almost be describing different places. “Explorations” follows the treks of Nansen, Peary, Rasmussen, and Wegener, men who were as much adventurers as scientists, even as their expeditions laid the ground for modern glaciology. Traveling by sledge, they spent months crossing the hundreds of miles of Greenland’s ice sheet, enduring unimaginable cold, hunger, loneliness, and in some cases surviving by burrowing underground. Gertner vividly evokes these struggles and writes beautifully about the unforgiving landscape. By 1949, thanks to planes and snowmobiles, the ice sheet was much easier to navigate. It was also smaller and warmer, and “Investigations” charts the simultaneous advances in technology that allowed researchers to drill to the bedrock below the ice—extracting a “core” rich with data about ten thousand years of weather—and the growing understanding of rising temperatures and sea levels, feedback loops, and Greenland’s central position in all this as “the world’s cooling system.”

The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland's Buried Past and Our Perilous Future Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812996623
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House - June 11th, 2019

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