For though the Arctic journeys become boring tractor rides and the scientists are, alas, less memorable than the roguish adventurers, the drama of discovery skates the narrative forward. For as researchers better understand the ice sheet, they also realize it may be the best way to understand why temperatures are rising across the world.
Gertner, a veteran science writer for prestigious magazines and the author of a best-selling book tracing how technologies developed at Bell Labs, is in his element describing how each intellectual eureka moment led to the next. We meet Henri Bader, a Swiss glaciologist working for the Americans during the Cold War, as he and his team drill thousands of feet into the icecap, extracting tiny frozen bubbles, the gases of which help them to reconstruct the history of the climate going back more than 100,000 years. With that revelation established, Gertner is off to the races chronicling the efforts to grapple with the next logical question — How fast is the world warming? When he arrives at the present, he joins modern-day Wegeners on airplane flights that use lasers to measure the stupendous amount of meltwater pouring off Greenland each summer as they attempt to understand how all these changes will transform the world.
It is here that the book completes its last metamorphosis, from a scientific history into a submission to the ever-growing canon of climate change literature.
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