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Good Reads  Environmental & Social Studies  Climate Change

The White Planet The Evolution and Future of Our Frozen World

By: Jean Jouzel(Author), Claude Lorius(Author), Dominique Raynaud(Author)
306 pages, 1 b/w photo, 33 b/w illustrations, 2 maps, 3 tables
A gripping journey through the icy regions of our changing planet
The White Planet
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  • The White Planet ISBN: 9780691173474 Paperback Dec 2016 Usually dispatched within 4 days
  • The White Planet ISBN: 9780691144993 Hardback Jan 2013 Usually dispatched within 4 days
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About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

From the Arctic Ocean and ice sheets of Greenland, to the glaciers of the Andes and Himalayas, to the great frozen desert of Antarctica, The White Planet: The Evolution and Future of Our Frozen World takes readers on a spellbinding scientific journey through the shrinking world of ice and snow to tell the story of the expeditions and discoveries that have transformed our understanding of global climate. Written by three internationally renowned scientists at the center of many breakthroughs in ice core and climate science, The White Planet: The Evolution and Future of Our Frozen World provides an unparalleled firsthand account of how the "white planet" affects global climate – and, in turn, how global warming is changing the frozen world.

Jean Jouzel, Claude Lorius, and Dominique Raynaud chronicle the daunting scientific, technical, and human hurdles that they and other scientists have had to overcome in order to unravel the mysteries of present and past climate change, as revealed by the cryosphere – the dynamic frozen regions of our planet. Scientifically impeccable, up-to-date, and accessible, The White Planet: The Evolution and Future of Our Frozen World brings cutting-edge climate research to general readers through a vivid narrative. This is an essential book for anyone who wants to understand the inextricable link between climate and our planet's icy regions.


Preface xi


Chapter 1 The Ice on Our Planet 3

    Snow and Ice: A Multifaceted World 3
    Mountain Glaciers and Ice Caps 5
    Polar Regions: The Omnipresence of the White Planet 7
    Greenland, Antarctica, and Ice Shelves 10
    Ice: An Agent and Indicator of Climate Change 14
    The White Planet and Sea Levels 16

Chapter 2 From Exploration to Scientific Observation 18

    The Flow of Mountain Glaciers 19
    Mass Balance: The Health of a Glacier 21
    The Arctic Ocean in the Time of the Explorers 23
    The Arctic Ocean: Vulnerable Ice 25
    Greenland: An Island Inhabited for Millennia 28
    Greenland: An Increasingly Negative Mass Balance 28
    Antarctica: A Much More Recent Exploration 31
    Antarctica: A Long Uncertain Mass Balance 34

Chapter 3 Ice through the Ages 37

    The Time of the Pioneers 37
    Ice of Long Ago 40
    Glaciations of the Quaternary and Astronomic Theory 46


Chapter 4 Reconstructing the Climates of the Past 53

    The Round of Isotopes 54
    Going Back in Time 57
    The Recent Period 57
    The Distant Past 60
    Paleoceanography 61
    Continental Archives 62
    Dating Oceanic and Continental Archives 64
    A Cornucopia of Results 66

Chapter 5 Glacial Archives 68

    The Long Story of a Snowflake 68
    The Ice and Its Isotopes: A Paleothermometer 70
    Impurities with Multiple Sources 71
    Air Bubbles in the Ice: A Very Beautiful Story 73
    The Headaches of Dating 77

Chapter 6 The Campaigns 82

    Camps Century and Byrd: The First Deep Ice Core Drillings 82
    Fifty Years Ago: The French on the Polar Ice 86
    The First Drilling at Dôme C: Success of the French Team 88
    Rapid Climate Variations: Initial Inklings 91
    Vostok: A Collaboration between French and Soviet Teams 92
    Europe and the United States: Two Drilling Operations in the Center of Greenland 96
    Europe Turns to Antarctica 98
    Vostok: More than 3,600 Meters of Ice 101
    Other Core Drilling in Antarctica 103
    The Glaciers of the Andes and the Himalaya 105
    A Return to Greenland 106
    The European EPICA Drilling: A Double Success beyond All Hopes 108

Chapter 7 Vostok: The Cornucopia 110

    A Complete Glacial-Interglacial Cycle 112
    Climate and Greenhouse Effect Go Hand in Hand 113
    Much More Information 118
    A Huge Lake under the Ice 120

Chapter 8 Dôme C: 800,000 Years and the Revolution of the Rhythm of Glaciations 122

    Ice Older than That at Vostok 123
    Inversion of the Magnetic Field 126

Chapter 9 Rapid Climatic Variations 130

    The First Indications 130
    Increasingly Clear Indications 132
    A Connection with Ocean Circulation? 133
    Confirmation 134
    Rapid Events during a Warm Period? 139
    Initially Underestimated Changes in Temperature 142
    The Connection with the Ocean Henceforth Demonstrated 143
    Consequences on a Planetary Scale 147

Chapter 10 The Last 10,000 Years: An Almost Stable Climate 149

    Volcanism and Solar Activity: Natural Climatic Forcings 150
    How Long Has Human Activity Been Changing the Composition of the Atmosphere? 152


Chapter 11 The Climate and Greenhouse Gases 159

    The Greenhouse Effect: A Truly Beneficial Natural Phenomenon 159
    The Greenhouse Effect Due to Human Activity: A Slow Awareness 163
    How Did We Get to This Point? 168

Chapter 12 Have Humans Already Changed the Climate? 173

    The Time of the Pioneers 173
    The Awareness 174
    The Establishment of the IPCC 177
    The Problem of Aerosols 180
    The Climate in the Last Millennium 183
    Warming Is a Certainty 185
    The Arguments of Skeptics 189
    The White Planet on the Front Lines of Global Warming 195

Chapter 13 What Will the Climate Be in the Future? 201

    A True Upheaval if We Aren't Careful 202
    What Will Become of Our Glaciers? 206
    An Arctic Ocean without Ice? 209
    Surprises under the Frozen Ground 210
    A More Rapid and Higher Sea-Level Rise than Predicted 211
    The Halt of the Gulf Stream 214

Chapter 14 A Warming with Multiple Consequences 218

    A True Upheaval on a Global Scale 218
    Mountain Regions 222
    Polar Regions: Multiple and Diverse Impacts 223
    The Political and Economic Stakes: Climate and Oil 225

Chapter 15 What We Must Do 227

    Stabilizing the Greenhouse Effect: A True Challenge 228
    The Kyoto Protocol: A First Step 230
    The Bali Conference 234
    Can the Challenge Be Met? 236
    Copenhagen: Failure or Half-Success 238
    A Necessary Adaptation 241
    The "Grenelle de l'environnement" 242


Chapter 16 The Crucial Place of Research 247

    A Short History of the Polar Years 249
    The International Polar Year 2007-2009 251
    Glacial Ice Coring: Ambitious Objectives 253
    The Microbiology of Ice and Subglacial Lakes: Life in an Extreme Environment 255
    Concordia: A Station Full of Promise 258

Chapter 17 Humans and the Rise of Pollution 261

    The Story of Lead 262
    Other Heavy Metals, Including Copper 264
    Sulfates 266
    Radioactivity 268
    The Ozone Hole: An Emblematic Pollution 269
    The Anthropocene and Greenhouse Gases 271

Conclusion: The Anthropocene Era 272
Notes 277
Selected Bibliography 289
Index 291

Customer Reviews


Jean Jouzel, Claude Lorius, and Dominique Raynaud are internationally acclaimed scientists who have won many awards for their work documenting long-term climate change through the study of deep ice cores. Jouzel and Raynaud are members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Lorius was awarded the 2009 Blue Planet Prize.

By: Jean Jouzel(Author), Claude Lorius(Author), Dominique Raynaud(Author)
306 pages, 1 b/w photo, 33 b/w illustrations, 2 maps, 3 tables
A gripping journey through the icy regions of our changing planet
Media reviews

"[G]iven the public controversy over the nature and extent of climate change, [The White Planet] provides clear insights into the meticulous and exacting research that undergirds the scientific consensus. If you're feeling buffeted by the winds of uninformed opinion and misinformation that fill the media, then read The White Planet for a breath of fresh – if chilling – air."
– Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History

"Renowned French researchers Jean Jouzel, Claude Lorius, and Dominique Rayaud review the history of Earth's ice as well as the history of the study of that ice [...] Offering thorough evidence on a variety of concerns – including shrinking polar regions, the greenhouse effect, and changes in the ozone – the authors outline a clear path to preserve the viability of the cryosophere and our planet."

"By analysing the climates of the past as captured in deep ice cores, ice sheets, and the atmospheric bubbles within them, the authors methodically address the many points of contention over the causes of warming and cooling. Their conclusion is unequivocal: climate change is one of the great challenges to civilisation."
– Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald

"The authors relate their studies of the ice sheets and glaciers, and provide explanations of how the science works, discussing the climate history discovered in the ice, and the warming trends that have been observed therein [...] Highly recommended for all serious collections on glaciology and climate change and for anyone who wants to know more about the science of discovering ancient climates."
Library Journal (starred review)

"This book is a factual, chronological narrative of Earth's cryosphere, covering the critical role that the ice-covered parts of our planet play in recording climate and how ice records reveal changes in Earth's climate over the last 800,000 years. French authors Jouzel, Lorius, and Raynaud are world leaders in ice-core climate research and have been instrumental in collecting and interpreting these important records."

"[T]he book does provide a valuable look at the science, history [...] and politics of ice-core drilling and glacial-archive analysis. It will be of immense interest to those already involved in cryospheric science even if it is less successful in its stated mission of bringing a message to the general public."
– Liz Kalaugher, Physics World

"The White Planet is an appealing tour of the role of ice in the Earth system, the history of ice studies, the great discoveries from ice cores (many of them made by the authors themselves), and some important implications of these breakthroughs for energy use, climate change, and our future. The authors are giants in the field, and they conclude with an often firsthand account of the international response to the science, along with their recommendations for wise ways forward."
- Richard B. Alley, author of The Two-Mile Time Machine

"The White Planet is a fascinating account of ice and climate change--and why we should be concerned for the future of life on Earth. The authors are world leaders in the study of the cryosphere, and the science in this book is very strong and thorough."
- Jo Jacka, chief editor of the Journal of Glaciology

"In this engaging book, three pioneers of ice-core science weave together the history of Earth's ice and the history of its scientific study, showing how the past of the planet warns us about its future."
- Eric Wolff, British Antarctic Survey and University of Southampton

"The White Planet is a fantastic read about an amazing scientific, technological, and human adventure. The book takes us to the center of one of the remotest places on Earth, Vostok Station, Antarctica, where the authors unveiled an astonishing chapter in climate history from layers of ice. Internationally recognized for their achievements in ice core science, the authors are true pioneers, and their words carry a unique wisdom. Everyone interested in climate science should read this book."
- Eric Rignot, University of California, Irvine

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