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A pioneering researcher's illuminating account of Arctic ice – its secret history and dire future
Barely inhabited, the Arctic is an alien world to most of us. It also holds critical clues about the future of our planet. In The Hidden Life of Ice, Marco Tedesco invites us to Greenland, where he and his fellow scientists are doggedly researching the dramatic changes afoot. Following the arc of his typical day at work, Tedesco unearths the secrets in the ice – from evidence of long-extinct "polar camels" to the fantastically weird microorganisms living at freezing temperatures in cryoconite holes.
Tedesco weaves together the bald facts on climate change with poetic reflections on this endangered landscape, the epic deeds of great Arctic explorers, and the legends of the rare local populations. The Hidden Life of Ice is more than a diatribe on climate – it's a moving tribute to a beautiful place that may be gone too soon.
Marco Tedesco is a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and adjunct scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Originally from Italy, he received his Laurea degree and PhD from the University of Naples Federico II and the Italian National Research Council. He weant on to join the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a postdoc and later, as a professor, became the founder and director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory. Tedesco has been featured in Science and has spoken as an expert on polar regions for The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and others. He lives in New York.
Alberto Flores d’Arcais was born in Rome and graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in philosophy. He’s written for newspapers and magazines since the 1970s and has reported on hard-hitting issues like civil wars, drug trafficking, and the collapses of dictatorships internationally since the 1980s. He is also well known for his interviews with world leaders and culture icons. In 2002, Alberto Flores d’Arcais was a John S. Knight Fellow for Journalism at Stanford University. He now spends his time between New York and Rome.
Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. Her journalism has garnered multiple awards, including a 2006 National Academies Communication Award for her three-part series The Climate of Man, which investigated the consequences of disappearing ice on the planet. She is author of The Prophet of Love, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015. She received the Blake-Dodd Prize, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2017.
"Tedesco shares scientific and historical insight into Arctic ice, discussing the hardy microorganisms that live in it, the famed explorers behind major discoveries about the ice, and the threat posed by climate change."
– Publishers Weekly
"Imagine a science book that's truly informative but without an intimidating slew of equations, graphs, and references. That book is The Hidden Life of Ice – a book about ice, climate, Greenland, and the daily life of scientists who study these esoteric topics. It's a beautifully told story that will make you wish you could spend a year alone on the Greenland ice sheet."
– Henry Pollack, Professor Emeritus at The University of Michigan Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and author of A World Without Ice
"When it comes to ice and snow, and to understanding the cold and exotic climates of Greenland and Antarctica, Marco Tedesco is one of the most knowledgeable scientists alive. The Hidden Life of Ice is a terrific complement to his important academic work – a book that is insightful, lyrical, and personal, and that will help guide readers through the science of a warming world."
– Jon Gertner, author of The Ice at the End of the World and The Idea Factory
"In this illuminating narrative, history, science and the deeply personal experiences of living on ice are woven together in a way that offers the reader a unique perspective on the past, present, and future of the Greenland ice sheet. The colors and sounds of migrating ice, the challenges of tent life in one of the planet's harshest settings, the importance of companionship, and the wild world's power to inspire deep reflection and contemplation all make this book a must-read for anyone who is curious about the frozen Arctic landscape or concerned about the impacts of climate change."
– William E. Glassley, author of A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice
"Marco Tedesco tells us a story we need to hear. Most of us will never see Greenland with our own eyes, but we can see it, in all its splendor, through his. Tedesco teaches us that we are not just caretakers of our home planet, although we need to be that and do that, but also that we are intimately connected to the snow and ice of Greenland. As it melts, all of us, everywhere, are changed."
– Susan Hand Shetterly, author of Seaweed Chronicles
"Greenland is ground zero for the monumental change sweeping over our world during the Anthropocene. Dr. Tedesco makes a valuable and much-needed contribution toward the dire story unfolding in this great and sometimes enigmatic land."
– James Balog, A.D. White Professor at Cornell University and founder of the Extreme Ice Survey and Earth Vision Institute