The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change

Philip Conkling, Richard Alley, Wallace Broecker, and George Denton, photos by Gary Comer. MIT, $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-262-02564-6
The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change
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In 2001, shortly after completing the first solo private-financed voyage through the Northwest Passage and concerned about the rapid melting of the ice sheets that made his trip possible, Land's End clothing founder Gary Comer created the Comer Fellowship Program in Abrupt Climate Change Research. This book, authored by geology, glaciology, and climate change experts, chronicles the discoveries of program-funded expeditions to Greenland and other Arctic locations along with stunning photos by the now-deceased Comer. Drilling ice cores, examining glaciers, and surrounding landscapes, the authors are shocked to find that abrupt climate changes were common in the last glacial cycle, that warming of 18 degrees Fahrenheit or more occurred dozens of times in less than 10 years, and that major changes in sea ice occurred in the course of a single year. They conclude, disturbingly, that abrupt changes in Greenland instigate equally abrupt planetwide shifts in weather and rainfall, and warn of ""harm to economies and existing ecosystems, with losers substantially outnumbering winners." The extensive explanations of technical matters like ice core drilling, carbon dating, and results analysis may daunt some readers, but the book gives a refreshingly clear picture of the science of studying climate change and of the curious, dedicated scientists in action. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change
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