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The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change

The Fate of Greenland: Lessons from Abrupt Climate Change [Kindle Edition]

Philip Conkling , Richard Alley , Wallace Broecker , George Denton

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Product Description


"This is the best accounting of abrupt climate change available--best because the science is on-target and nuanced and the storytelling is superb." --Peter Kareiva, Chief Scientist and Vice President, The Nature Conservancy "While abrupt changes in the Earth's climate system occur with some frequency, the drivers of these dramatic events are poorly understood. Nowhere are such occurrences more prominent than in Greenland, where several abrupt changes have occurred during the period since the arrival of Norse settlers in the 10th century. In this accessible, illuminating, and richly illustrated book, several prominent climate scientists focus on the case of Greenland to explore the causes and consequences of rapid climate change events." --Oran R. Young, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California at Santa Barbara "This book captures a unique view behind the scenes at a special time in climate science. It is an important work for several reasons: it connects past and potential future climate shifts that have large societal impacts to the mechanics of how the climate system works, and provides a glimpse of the personal detective work the authors have each engaged in as they and others have constructed our present understanding. It also captures well-informed views of how climate changes have worked in the recent past from the perspectives of scientists who have been at the forefront of unraveling aspects of this system. The Fate of Greenland is an excellent reference for establishing a working view of the planet on climate and glacial timescales. This is the right book, with the right tone, to bring this subject to a general audience." --Mark Fahnestock, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire

Pub-quiz enthusiasts may well know what I did not: that the late Gary Comer, the seriously wealthy founder of the Lands End clothing company, was also an excellent photographer and discerning funder of climate-change research, especially in Greenland. This very handsome book presents almost 80 photographs of Greenland s glaciers and mountains with many of the best shots taken by Comer himself along with detailed, well-written accounts of the scientific insights associated with the field trips that Comer supported. It is both a memorial to Comer and a long, thoughtful essay on the character and causes of sudden climate change. .... This book teaches us a lot about how to do science and how to investigate difficult problems about the causes of environmental change. It shows that abrupt climate changes really have happened and puts forward likely mechanisms. It tells us a great deal about the wonders of Greenland and how important the country is as a window on to the recent glaciations. And it makes the whole idea of sudden, grave climate shocks arising from greenhouse emissions seem terribly plausible, even if it does not predict any particular shocks. It is not a story about lands end, but it is a very fine tribute to Comer. --Steve Yearley, Times Higher Education

Product Description

Viewed from above, Greenland offers an endless vista of whiteness interrupted only by scattered ponds of azure-colored melt water. Ninety percent of Greenland is covered by ice; its ice sheet, the largest outside Antarctica, stretches almost 1,000 miles from north to south and 600 miles from east to west. But this stark view of ice and snow is changing -- and changing rapidly. Greenland's ice sheet is melting; the dazzling, photogenic display of icebergs breaking off Greenland's rapidly melting glaciers has become a tourist attraction. The Fate of Greenland documents Greenland's warming with dramatic color photographs and investigates episodes in Greenland's climate history for clues about what happens when climate change is abrupt rather than gradual.Greenland's climate past and present could presage our climate future. Abrupt climate change would be cataclysmic: the melting of Greenland's ice shelf would cause sea levels to rise twenty-four feet worldwide; lower Manhattan would be underwater and Florida's coastline would recede to Orlando. The planet appears to be in a period of acute climate instability, exacerbated by carbon dioxide we pour into the atmosphere. As this book makes clear, it is in all of our interests to pay attention to Greenland.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10888 KB
  • Print Length: 232 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (25 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GJ40SI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #902,858 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fate of Greenland, how a distant land affects all of us. 31 May 2011
By Old Rocks - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book puts many years of scientific research concerning the linkage of Greenland and the Arctic into intelligent layman's terms. It explains how and by whom the data was gathered, and explains the proxy methods when they are used.

Much of the information that they present is quite recent. I consider myself quite familiar with this subject, but there were quite a number of investigations that I was unaware of, with data very relevant to the subject.

If you are looking for reassurance that global warmng is not serious, this is not the book for you. While assidously avoiding alarmist type of writing, they data that is presented does not bode well for us.

Well worth the money, whether you are a professional or an interested citizen.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Greenland Global Climate Change's Canary in the Coal Mine? 12 Jun 2011
By Frederick S. Goethel - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After reading this book, I have a better understanding of how they are researching climate change and how ice core data can be used to back trace how the climate once was. Ice coring sounds like a fairly simple procedure, but in reality, extracting data from it is a long and cumbersome process that requires much knowledge and technical skill. In the end, however, it answers questions about where our climate has been, and what factors were in play in the world in various stages.

Far from simply discussing ice coring, the book also details geological changes that have been found in Greenland and how they tie in with other climate data. Overall, this book presents the steps that have been taken in Greenland to unravel the mystery of climate change. Greenland is, in many ways, the canary in the coal mine and data extracted there is very useful in determining where we are most likely headed.

The book presents a scenario that is not rosy, but is also not disastrous either. Instead, it presents what the best scientific thinking of today is about how change is occurring. It is written in language that a lay person can understand, however it is not easy reading. In the end, all of the authors are PhDs and their writing does reflect that.

I would be remiss if I did not point out the spectacular photography present throughout the book. All in color, there are very spectacular photos of glaciers, ice and numerous geological features.

This is a great book for catching up on the latest in research and for a non-alarmist point of view. Just expect to spend a little time going over some areas several times if you are not up on geology. I highly recommend this book.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good photographs 4 Sep 2011
By Diapir - Published on
The photographs in this book are good, as is the quality of the paper and binding, and the authors are world-caliber Earth scientists. However, the book is very poorly edited with issues concerning grammar, non sequitur statements, stated technical terms that are not defined, significant difference in style of writing between chapters and etcetera. This should have been an excellent book presenting the foundation knowledge of climate change science (climatology, geology and glaciology) in a transparent fashion that provides the lay reader the history and essentials of current state-of-knowledge. If this book goes to a second printing it would benefit greatly from competent editing including the addition of graphics that are relatively simple, well called-out, and that demonstrate findings of the many areas of special knowledge that this book seeks to provide, for example ice cores are discussed repeatedly, yet there are no photographs of ice core segments with call-outs delineating basic features. I would not purchase this book, rather seek several books that in-total provide a comprehensive state-of-knowledge overview of the sciences of climate change. A good starting point may be Ice Ages - Solving the Mystery by Imbrie and Imbrie which, though dated, is an excellent primer of the subject.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What does Greenland have to say?... 6 Nov 2011
By D. S. Thurlow - Published on
2011's "The Fate of Greenland" is a very nicely packaged compilation of recent research on climate change, particularly on the phenomenon of abrupt climate change. The four authors, experts in geology and paleoclimatology, have spent the last decade conducting field research in Greenland, on behalf of a wealthy private donor. Their focus was the Little Ice Age, its impact on a now vanished Norse colony, and its possible implications for global climate change.

There is much to like about the book. The stunning photography, in particular of the high mountains, glaciers, and fjords of Greenland, would have been worth a book all by itself. The chapters describing the Little Ice Age and its visible effects in Greenland and elsewhere are fascinating, if a little uneven due to the differing writing styles of the authors. The text imparts a good sense of the rapidly evolving status and exciting developments in the science of paleoclimatology.

There are also things to dislike about the book. The text never quite gets its tone right, ranging from simple and clear to tedious and lecturing to science-laden jargon. The book takes three-quarters of its length to cautiously and thoughtfully string together observations, theories, and suppositions about a description of abrupt climate change. The conclusion turns into a bit of a scientific rant on anthropogenic global warning, dismissing competing scientific evidence and arguments in favor of an urgent plea to reduce CO2 emissions. The authors can't document the precise hazard of human-triggered abrupt climate change that they fear, but argue for a strong response on the admittedly small chance that it could happen.

"The Fate of Greenland" gets a qualified recommendation to readers interested in and already broadly knowledgeable about climate and climate change.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book might convince me about global warming 26 Dec 2012
By Anthony J. Dzik - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a professional geographer I have been skeptical about man-induced climate change. Yhis book, however, presents material in a manner that has made me reconsider. The book is well-written, and while it contains some very technical material, it presents fact and theory in terms that can be understood by the well-read layperson. The photographs are stunning.
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