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The Ice Age: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Jamie Woodward
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 2014 0199580693 978-0199580699
The study of the Quaternary ice age has revolutionized ideas about Earth system change and the pace of landscape and ecosystem dynamics. The Ice Age: A Very Short Introduction looks at evidence from the continents, the oceans, and the ice core records, and the human stories behind it all. Jamie Woodward examines the remarkable environmental shifts that took place during the Great Ice Age of the Quaternary Period. He explores the evolution of ideas, evaluates the contributions of the leading players in the great debates, and presents some of the ingenious methods that have been used to retrieve information about the recent geological past.

In an era of warming climate, the study of the ice age past is now more important than ever. This book examines the wonders of the Quaternary ice age - to show how ice age landscapes and ecosystems were repeatedly and rapidly transformed as plants, animals, and humans reorganized their worlds.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (30 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199580693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199580699
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 11.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jamie Woodward is Professor of Physical Geography at The University of Manchester. He studied Geography at Aberystwyth and carried out PhD research at Cambridge University in Nick Shackleton's Godwin Laboratory. Jamie has published widely on ice age landscape change with a particular focus on the mountains of the Mediterranean world. He also works with British Museum archaeologists in the Nile Valley. He edits Geoarchaeology: An International Journal and was the Quaternary Science Editor for the Journal of the Geological Society from 2001 to 2012. Did you spot the Deep Purple lyric in The Ice Age VSI?

Follow him on Twitter @Jamie_Woodward_ for a colourful digital companion to The Ice Age VSI.

Product Description


Well written, engaging, and accessible. (Geographical Journal)

This is a truly comprehensive, highly accessible, and entertaining biography of Ice Age research. (Climatica)

About the Author

Jamie Woodward is Professor of Physical Geography at The University of Manchester. He has published widely on Quaternary environmental change and human activity in ice age environments and has extensive field experience in the Mediterranean region and in the Nile Valley. He is the Co-Editor of Geoarchaeology: An International Journal and is the Quaternary Science and Geomorphology Editor for the Journal of the Geological Society of London He has recently co-authored four chapters and edited The Physical Geography of the Mediterranean for OUP (2009).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent (and not too short) introduction 10 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well-written, with the key concepts clearly explained, and with no "dumbing down" of the science. The author does a splendid job of explaining isotopic ratios in sediments and ice cores, and the graphs in this section are particularly useful. The biographies of the main players in this fascinating story help the reader to engage with the geology. Excellent!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ice Age: A Very Short Introduction 6 Mar 2014
The Ice Age delves back to the onset of Ice Age research – to the discovery of the Adams mammoth in 1799 and a landmark letter from Charles Darwin in 1873. It tells the entertaining story of climate change research from these early discoveries through to the present day, to incorporate the latest revolutions in Ice Age research.

The story demonstrates how key scientists, from across the natural sciences, have contributed to our knowledge of climate change. It has taken several centuries of dedicated research to arrive at our current understanding of the Earth system, and the book highlights what an important, interdisciplinary journey this has been. Pioneering figures such as Charles Lyell, Louis Agassiz, and William Buckland took centre stage in the great Ice Age debate as the glacial theory was devised and deliberated in the glaciated valleys of Britain and the European Alps during the 18th and 19th Centuries. During World War One, Milutin Milankovitch completed the painstaking task of calculating (using only pen and paper!) how the orbital relationships between the Earth and the Sun influence the amount of solar energy our planet receives. When he published his findings in 1941, the true gravitas of his work was not fully recognised. We had to wait several decades until the Milankovitch theory was fully credited…

We follow the Ice Age research story to the pioneering work of Nick Shackleton and colleagues on the deep ocean sediment record during the 1970s, and that of Hans Oeschger and Willi Dansgaard and their teams on the ice core record in the 1980s. It is these incredible archives that have allowed us to produce detailed insights into long-term climate change at a resolution and timescale that was not previously possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does its job well 9 April 2014
"The Ice Age" is an excellent addition to the VSI series and does its job well, providing a short introduction to a wide range of topics particularly to do with the history of the development of ideas about the Quaternary ice age. The book uses the scientific stories of important individuals in the history of the discipline to introduce and explain key ideas to do with climate change, reconstruction of past climates, dating historical records etc. The book particularly emphasises the historical development of science in this area, to the extent that it is as much a book about the history of ice age science as about the ice age itself. The book has all the characteristics of the VSI series, including the usual compact format. The VSI books sometimes do feel as though a larger book is being physically squeezed into the smaller format, and some of the books lose a little bit of print quality in the illustrations during the process. The flaps on the card covers appeal to some people, and not to others, but they are certainly a distinctive feature of these little books!
One of the great strengths of this book is that it provides short introductions to a wide range of important topics in a convenient format for readers who want to get to grips with the basics of the subject area. In fact, it manages to go usefully beyond the basics despite the compact format.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 8 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written VSI which kept me completely engaged. It details the key discoveries that have been made by a colourful array of characters from the 19th century to the present day in understanding the Ice Age past. As someone who knew little to nothing about this subject, I found the book fascinating but also wonderfully accessible. The author has brought the subject alive with anecdotes and snippets of information about some of the main players in the Ice Age debate. It also taught me about the modern techniques used to reconstruct how the climate has changed and how these changes to the environment took place so often and rapidly. Did you know that mammoths still existed at the time the Great Pyramids were being built? The author's enthusiasm comes across wonderfully. He conveys the importance and relevance of our Ice Age history to the present. I would highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Jamie has bought together a vast amount of material and presented it as a story of the how our understanding of glaciations has developed. The book is accessible without being simple and is especially strong in showing how long it took to satisfactorily interpret the evidence. It takes us all the way from summer field trips observing the landscape to cosmogenic isotope dating. In a time of rapid climate change it is well worth taking the time to think about how the world changed during the Quaternary Period.

The series format are attractive illustrated books that you can take anywhere. A great travel companion.
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