An aquatic ecologist and permafrost scientist recalls her captivating adventures across the Arctic studying climate change, her quest to find belonging and family, and her journey of faith in a world of science in this poignant, eye-opening, and hopeful memoir in the spirit of Lab Girl, Educated, and Finding the Mother Tree.
Katey Walter Anthony's enchantment with lakes began when she was growing up amid the Sierra Nevada mountains. Today, her love for these bodies of water has taken her to the deepest reaches of Alaska and Siberia, where she is undertaking pioneering research on methane emissions. Chasing Lakes is her story: one-part adventure – complete with shipwrecks and treacherous treks through Arctic storms by helicopter, snowmobile, and foot to measure greenhouse gases – part coming-of-age tale, as she searches for belonging in the wake of a broken childhood, and part spiritual quest to find a wholeness science cannot fill.
Somewhere between the remote, frozen landscapes of Siberia and her rough cabin in Alaska, she discovers her spiritual and emotional home when she meets Peter, a bright and humble Minnesota farmer who reinvigorates her faith and helps ground her. Yet finding love and fulfilment brings its own challenges. The closer she gets to having the family she's always wanted, the further she's pushed from the important fieldwork that is her passion.
Chasing Lakes is a chronicle of a woman seeking truth, adventure, scientific discovery, family, love, and grace. Both an eye-opening look from the frontlines of the climate crisis and an intimate portrait of a brilliant scientist, Chasing Lakes is memoir writing at its finest: beautiful, complex, revelatory, and moving.
Katey Walter Anthony PhD is a professor of aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, and permafrost science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her research focuses on methane emissions from Arctic lakes, the degradation of permafrost, and their associated feedbacks to global climate through the carbon cycle. She and her work have been featured in National Geographic, Washington Post, 60 Minutes, Vice, The Guardian, the New York Times newsletter, Newsweek, Nature Magazine, and Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary Ice on Fire.
"Chasing Lakes moves the reader simultaneously through two realms of time. First realm is the span of an aggressive intentional scientific life: the life of Katey Walter Anthony. The second is the old-as-the-Earth epoch of methane seeps from Arctic lakes."
– Leonardo DiCaprio
"Katey Walter Anthony offers readers a vivid and moving meditation on faith, family, and what it takes to become a scientist. Rich in detail on the scientific discovery process, Chasing Lakes truly fosters a deeper appreciation for the intricate steps necessary to study climate change. I'll forever look at lakes in a new light."
– Cassandra L. Quave, scientist and author of The Plant Hunter
"Walter Anthony's work has brought to our consciousness a dire threat – carbon stored in frozen ground beneath much of the north [...] [while] the book is also a reflection on the challenges and rewards of choosing to marry and become a parent."
– Anchorage Daily News