cover image The Greatest Polar Expedition of All Time: The Arctic Mission to the Epicenter of Climate Change

The Greatest Polar Expedition of All Time: The Arctic Mission to the Epicenter of Climate Change

Markus Rex, trans. from the German by Sarah Pybus. Greystone, $28.95 (296p) ISB

Rex, the head of atmospheric research at the Alfred Wegener Institute, vividly captures 2019’s MOSAiC polar expedition in this show-stopping account. In September of that year, the icebreaker Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway, to spend a year monitoring and measuring conditions in the Arctic Ocean; the mission involved hundreds of scientists, technicians, and crew members. Rex, the director of the project, recounts it in diary format, describing the logistics of finding a suitable ice floe thick enough to support the weight of their equipment, polar bear encounters, and ever-shifting conditions. Research successes large and small come along the way, as when one team had an “amazing” ice coring day, and Rex has a knack for vivid and startling imagery. (On the myriad ice formations, “One looks like a huge mushroom, another like the teeth of a mighty Arctic monster frozen in the ice.”) His conclusion that immediate action is needed to preserve the Arctic ice won’t be a surprise, but his point that any changes to that effect will need to be relevant and have broad support is well made. This is required reading for anyone interested in seeing science in action. (May)