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Eploying every technological tool available to uncover the secrets of this frozen island before it's too late As Greenland's ice melts and runs off into the sea it not only threatens to affect hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal areas It will also have drastic effects on ocean currents weather systems economies and migration patternsGertner chronicles the unfathomable hardships amazing discoveries and scientific achievements of the Arctic's explorers and researchers with a transporting deeply intelligent style and a keen sense of what this work means for the rest of us The melting ice sheet in Greenland is in a way an analog for time It contains the past It reflects the present It can also tell us how much time we might have lef. Snowflakes fall to the earth and leave a message even when they melt The world s largest island Halfway between Europe and North America hello WWII military outpostPopulation just north of 56k80% covered by an ice sheet 700 x 1500 miles wideBegun over 1M years ago when small snow falls began to pile compact and refreeze The ice sheet isOver 2 miles thick Calving at an increased rate And it is melting Da du dahhh Conclusions drawn 35 In a conversation like this we find ourselves deadlocked between what we can prove and what we see If the eyewitness is crime s least effective witness it becomes impossible to move the needle on climatology changes because we cannot prove what we see to be true fast enough It s a marketing problem It s a historical problem we re a little late to the game and it s a problem of modern comforts cars industrialization etc What is clean energy as it relates to climatology and in Greenland s case glaciology Ice is time solidified and it takes time to discover identify and propose what next This was a frigidly dry read but I think it is important to understand that in 1888 Friedtjof Nansen struggled with a solution to got UP onto the ice sheet with its mountainous stalactites and sharp craggy ridges and by modern day approaching the ice sheet is a matter of walking DOWN a muddy rocky road This bank aims to discuss the science behind that visual change

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The Ice at the End of the World An Epic Journey Into Greenland's Buried Past and Our Perilous Future

Greenland a remote mysterious island five times the size of California but with a population of just 56000 The ice sheet that covers it is 700 miles wide and 1500 miles long and is composed of nearly three uadrillion tons of ice For the last 150 years explorers and scientists have sought to understand Greenland at first hoping that it would serve as a gateway to the North Pole and later coming to realize that it contained essential information about our climate Locked within this vast and frozen white desert are some of the most profound secrets about our planet and its future Greenland's ice doesn't just tell us where we've been More urgently it tells us where we're headedIn The Ice at the End of the World Jon Gertner explains how Greenland h. This book has three themes all centered on Greenland s ice sheet 1500 miles long nearly 700 miles wide and up to 10000 feet deep holding three uadrillion tons of ice Gertner begins with adventure describing explorations of Greenland s ice covered interior from the 1880 s through the 1930s In this part Gertner gives us the personal stories of the explorers the risks they took and the hardships they endured The second section of the book skips to the late forties following WWII Exploration continues but the adventure is largely gone as vehicles and planes take over from men with iron wills dog sleds and horses Gertner still profiles the people but mostly in terms of their contributions to science The story becomes one of scientific discovery This leads to the third story climate change the future of Greenland s ice sheet and glaciers and what that holds for the world My notes followGertner begins his history of explorations of Greenland s interior with the expedition of Fridtjof Nansen in 1888 At the time no one had crossed Greenland s interior The west coast of Greenland was accessible with Danish Settlements and native Inuit ones The east coast was inaccessible It was enclosed in miles of pack ice drifting on the seas offshore Nansen would cross east to west It was simpler to start in the west but there was no exit once you got to the east coast Nansen had a ship offload him and his men on the pack ice They took two boats to navigate the ice They nearly drifted out to sea trapped by the ice It took them eleven days just to make it to shore Then they had to climb the high cliffs of ice and avoid the many crevasses which could mean instant death Once on the ice sheet they could use snowshoes and skis They pulled their sleds themselves so they wouldn t have to carry food for dogs Their trip across the narrower south end was 350 miles It took them about ten weeks from the time they left their ship to reach a settlement on the west coast The interior of Greenland was bleak barren and COLD Their success reuired meticulous planning and the determination to persevere against the bitter elements A fall or injury could be catastrophic They became the first men to cross the interior of Greenland Nansen would return to Denmark to widespread acclaimThe next expedition was by an American Robert Peary in 1892 He had hoped to be first to cross Greenland Now he felt he had to do than Nansen He decided to travel on the ice sheet near the north coast of Greenland going from the west coast to the east coast and then returning 600 miles each way Perry spent the winter on the west coast so he could get an early start at the end of April His team would use sled dogs He counted on excursions down the ice sheet to the north coast to hunt for muskox and seals to replenish his food The north coast was uncharted territory He was taking a big chance but it worked Peary would make the first maps of the north coast They reached their destination on the northwest most part of the coast on July 4 He planted a U S flag on top of a cliff overlooking a glacier Hungry and with very little little food to spare they returned in early August Peary too achieved notoriety and hit the lecture tours back in the U SA serious effort to document Greenland was made by Knud Rasmussen He grew up in Greenland and was 18th Inuit He moved with his family to Denmark when he was twelve Inspired by Nansen and Peary he vowed to return But he did than just demonstrate his prowess at conuering the icy interior He documented the geology the ecology and the culture of the Inuit In 1902 3 he traveled along Greenland s west and north coasts going from Inuit village to village ending with the Polar Inuit the northern most tribe in the world His books about the Inuit their beliefs and practices published in 1904 made him a national celebrity in Denmark He would spend the next several decades recording tens of thousands of pages of notes of his interviews and impressions of the Inuit He established a permanent trading station on the northeast coast at a settlement his partner named Thule Too lee station In April 1912 Rasmussen and his team begin an expedition of undetermined length traveling on the ice sheet near the north coast of Greenland where they could hunt and then to look for evidence of a long missing explorer They mapped new areas of the coast and revisited Peary s cliff They never found traces of the explorer In September they just made it back before running out of food In 1917 Rasmussen led a second expedition along the north coast taking along a geologist and botanist Sadly they had insufficient food the dogs were eaten the botanist died of starvation and one other man got disappeared and died These trips were exceedingly dangerous and run with razor thin margins for error In 1913 the German Alfred Wegner led an expedition of four men 700 miles from the northern east coast to the central west coast They spent the winter near their starting point to get going as early as possible in the spring Rather than dogs they used Icelandic horses to pull the sleds all of which died on the way Suffering numerous near calamities and injuries the men arrived on the west coast barely alive Wegner would return to Greenland in 1930 to set up a weather monitoring and research station in the center of the ice sheet some 250 miles from the west coast Three men stayed the winter at the station one because he was too injured to return They lived in uarters they dug out below the ice Turns out living in the ice was much comfortable than living in tents on the surface The real problem was getting enough supplies to last until spring Wegner led a resupply mission in the fall which ran into constant delays but made it delivering the needed supplies The weather turned brutal He and his companion did not make it back Wegner s body was found the next spring His partner s never was No one knows exactly what happened to them The station was resupplied in the spring and the men were determined to conduct the experiments Wegner planned They dug a 50 foot shaft down in the ice measuring density at different depths They set off explosives to determine the depth of the ice sheet from waves reflected from bedrockThe age of machines entered the exploration of Greenland in 1949 when Frenchman Paul Emile Viktor used weasels WWII army vehicles designed for harsh cold weather conditions to carry his party to the center of the ice sheet near where Wegner had set up his station They were able to erect comfortable uarters with electricity They could be resupplied by air Teams of eight men spent two winters there and continued the weather and ice sheet measurements of Wegner s team Digging down into the snow the scientists could determine the annual snowfall and even past temperatures as Wegner s team had also done establishing a baseline for future measurements They even bored through the ice to take the first core but the uality was poor and the analytical techniues available were limitedEverything changed when in the fears of the cold war The U S began building a huge airbase in 1951 at Thule near Rasmussen s old trading post A decades old discussion with Rasmussen led one of the planners to suggest the site The Inuit settlement there was moved north as the base drove away wildlife and was destroying the indigenous culture The establishment of the base enabled exploration on a greatly expanded level and the U S government would fund much of the research The military needed to understand the stability and future of the ice sheet and glaciers This gave a big impetus to the development of modern glaciology Henri Bader was a Swiss citizen and chief scientist of SPIRE which had been set up by the U S Army Corps of Engineers to study snow ice and permafrost The military gave him a big budget which he put to good use While personally he was interested in the structure of snowflakes and how their composition affected glaciers and the ice sheet he built a team for other work He hired Carl Benson who would transform the local studies by Wegner and Viktor into studies across the ice sheet determining annual snow fall levels and temperatures throughout much of Greenland These measurements taken 1953 55 would be valuable sixty years later to show where the ice was receding and where it was stableIn 1959 the U S began building Camp Century in Greenland s interior It was built under the ice The purpose was declared to be that of improving building and survival practices in the Arctic Another purpose was stated to be scientific exploration which was a cover for the real purpose to find out whether missiles could be successfully placed under the ice sheet But the money for exploration was well used More ice cores were drilled Drilling techniues improved as did analysis As opposed to sea bed cores ice cores contained air bubbles which could reveal past climate In the 1960s they were drilling to bedrock uncovering thousands of years of atmosphere The U S lost interest in Camp Century and future exploration funding had to come from traditional sources which limited operations Still in 1981 a 6600 foot ice core in excellent condition was drilled which now could be inspected with mass spectrometers for oxygen and hydrogen isotopes that would reveal the climate over 100000 years ago In 1992 93 two teams at the summit of the ice sheet in Greenland drilled ice cores 10000 feet down before they hit bedrock The sites were strategically placed 30 kilometers apart to not interfere with each other but to allow comparison to confirm their findings The 1981 ice core had noticed rapid changes in temperatures 11 12000 years ago Was this an anomaly The two new ice cores matched each other perfectly and confirmed abrupt climate change 11700 years ago average temperatures rose about 18 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few years The earth s atmosphere uickly transitioned from the last ice age The reason isn t known but the most prevalent theory is that ocean currents changed involving positive feedback loops Some think atmospheric circulation changed It may have been both In the 1990s new technology came to the fore NASA began using aircraft with laser altimeters which combined with GPS allowed accurate mapping of the elevation of the Greenland ice sheet In 1999 a report based on six years of data showed that parts of the ice sheet were uickly thinning In 2003 NASA launched a satellite ICESat which performed the same measurements over Greenland and Antarctica constantly Another satellite GRACE measured minute changes in the Earth s gravity Gravity is not even over the earth s surface The loss of ice over Greenland would reduce the gravity measured there A report of GRACE s findings in 2009 showed that Greenland s annual ice loss was 286 billion tons In 2012 a satellite showed that melt water was all over the ice sheet its entire surface was melting The arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planetICESat failed and was retired in 2010 GRACE continued but couldn t give the fine detail provided by ICESat So laser altimeter surveying again was done by airplane Glaciers became the focus of understanding how and where the ice was lost Glaciers regularly calve icebergs and drain meltwater to the sea Glaciologists soon realized that many glaciers were unstable and that if some collapsed they alone would raise ocean levels significantly Jacobshavn in Greenland by a foot and Thwaites in Antarctica by two feet Worse they are supporting structures for the ice sheets Thwaites holds back the West Antarctic ice sheet which contains enough ice to raise ocean levels twelve feet In the 2010s both atmospheric and sea temperatures were rising Arctic sea ice was rapidly receding allowing the darker water to absorb heat creating a positive feedback loop Half the ice loss in Greenland is through the glaciers the other half is on the surface of the ice sheet Some of this water is stored in the underlying layers of the ice sheet creating an auifer the size of West Virginia One day this water could gush into the ocean As the ice recedes and human and biological activity takes place around the ice sheet dust soot and other particles land on it darkening it and melting it faster Climate scientists also worry about the release of methane a strong greenhouse gas from permafrost which would create another positive feedback loopThe major uestion scientists are asking is will the rise in temperatures lead to abrupt changes and if so when It could take many decades or centuries for large glaciers and ice sheets to collapse or it could happen sooner and abruptly The scientists don t know The current Arctic warmth is enough to eventually melt the Greenland ice sheet which would raise sea levels over twenty feet Unless the world lowers carbon emissions significantly the loss of the ice sheet is inevitable So even if this and the next generation don t have to deal with it later ones will The current consensus of climatologists calls for a one meter 32 feet rise in seas level by 2100 But it doesn t stop there larger sea level rises following are already committed meaning inevitable based on current conditions The current commitment is 23 meters 75 feet If temperatures continue to rise this century as they have then a twenty foot sea level rise would be committed Even the one meter rise would mean some low lying nations would be destroyed beaches and shorelines eroded increased flooding infrastructure and property damaged and auifers contaminated with salt water Along the U S coast 5 million people and 26 million homes are on property less than four feet above high tide Rich coastal nations like the U S would pay a heavy price poor coastal nations would be devastated

Jon Gertner Ï 4 Read

As evolved from one of earth's last frontiers to its largest scientific laboratory The history of Greenland's ice begins with the explorers who arrived here at the turn of the twentieth century first on foot then on skis then on crude motorized sleds and embarked on grueling expeditions that took as long as a year and often ended in frostbitten tragedy Their original goal was simple to conuer Greenland's seemingly infinite interior Yet their efforts eventually gave way to scientists who built lonely encampments out on the ice and began drilling one mile two miles down Their aim was to pull up ice cores that could reveal the deepest mysteries of earth's past going back hundreds of thousands of yearsToday scientists from all over the world are d. A Microcosm of Glaciology And The Politics That PayThe book that needed to be written The Ice at the End of the World is that book that briefly surveys the history of Greenland s exploration and the work that is done in those research stations we know exist but know little about I have read a large number of books written by and about polar explorers and expeditions But I have not yet found good books on what is happening in those research stations and in the field of glaciology In the first part of this book Mr Gertner brings the focus to Greenland in an approach that is historically oriented and covers the early explorers of Greenland He continues this chronological ordering of events in the second half but there the locus of movement is through the group agencies of governments and research teams And that is where we see the bulk of the new material presented The pull on an object moving overhead can be greater wherever the mass is denser for instance above mountain ranges like the Rockies or Alps or over vast ice sheets like Greenland s These gravitational variations can have subtle but important effects They can influence the paths of satellites and ballistic missiles for instance which is something the US military cares deeply about They can also affect the oceans since sea levels can be distorted in some locations by the gravitational effects of what lies far beneath the water s surface Down below there are deep trenches submerged mountain ranges and the remnants of lost continents that slid under the seafloor hundreds of millions of years ago If you could gather an improved measurement of the planet s mean gravity field the data could prove useful in fields ranging from aeronautics to oceanography I excitedly bought this book the day it released on Audible But it was so intensely interesting that I immediately added the Kindle whisper sync to read along Of course when he mentioned Nansen s ship was called the Jason I had to read Jason and the Golden Fleece as well to fully enjoy the reference there That is a great work and it gives you some idea of the spirit of these early explorers With my habit of researching every new thing I saw it has taken me almost three weeks to finish the book But it could have been read much faster Coming toward it from the west coast the ice sheet gives an impression not of a desert but of an ocean not only because it seems to capture the entire horizon but because it is sculpted into hillocks and hollows like a roiling sea on a day of serious weather Sometimes the ice sheet has also struck me as the photographic negative of an ocean Rather than darkness streaked with white foam it is lightness streaked with silt and dust The author starts with the ski treks across the continent and the deaths of some of the early expedition members Then he moves to the American military base that was established at Thule during WWII where we built air strips and brought in planes and trucks This made cross continent travel a rapid proposition instead of something that consumes whole seasons He reminded us that the US only did that because of military interests with Germany and then the Cold War with Russia He mentions that we did not have women explorers but I know of none from other countries either He complains that though the Science teams had unlimited budgetary funding for any of the work that they wanted to do via riding along with the US military it was for selfish reasons on our part Then the Cold War ended and the free flowing budget Explorers were back to suare one with obtaining funding for polar expeditions But they had made a lot of progress during those years and had banked a large store of ice cores This is where the book got interesting on a scientific level glaciers known as outlet or marine terminating carry such importance They flow from the edges of ice sheets and end at the ocean The details that I found most intriguing were the early sub ice bases the building of and work at the bunker the US operation of Thule GRACE and the IceBridge program But important he went into the details of the recent melting of the Greenland ice sheet He spoke briefly of the reaction of the Inuit to the new land that is appearing in Greenland where the ice sheet once rested The Arctic is the world s cooling system attributed to a Finnish official At times the book seems to be a bit too political with criticism of United States policy and Americans in general For example when discussing the early explorers Gertner brings out the negatives of the personal life of the American on the ice Yet he presents the other explorers as perfect humans which I don t think really exist He complains that American culture has had an impact on the culture of the Inuits because they could buy groceries and cigarettes at the base but he doesn t seem to think that the Finns the British the Germans the French have impacted Inuit culture More experienced authors choose to write from a historical and scientific framework and avoid political alliances in issues of Science They try to remain unbiased Objectivity seems to be a trait Gertner is acuiring in his writing But overall I was very satisfied with the amount and detail of the scientific information presented Here I will insert 4 opinions which you can take or leave by passing on to the next section1 He seems a bit unsophisticated in money matters by thinking that any government budget is going to allocate unlimited funding to science on a perpetual basis without some civilian or military spinoffs to directly pay for the project Yes I see the realities here on the ice But does he see the other problems that exist on the Earth In California at the moment nearly 69% of Californians are homeless Yes it may be a bad thing if the airport is submerged due to climate change But I don t think that a large percentage of the population could afford airline tickets Governments are constrained by all the problems of the populace not just research goals 2 America is an open media country and we know all the short comings of our leaders Many other countries do not share the problems of their own He mentions that Robert Peary had children with an Inuit woman as well as with his wife who was in Greenland with him He never says whether any of the other men lived as monks or visited the local women since their wives were not there Throughout the first section he only deals with Science where the other countries are concerned but gets personal with the Americans Of course he is an American Maybe his own knowledge of the real human element was limited to that of America 3 We don t have a government that is ruled by military business religion or Science Oligarchy is rule by few powerful people as in financial Oligarchies that are ruled by business interests Corporatocracy is a pejorative term meaning rule by corporations Military Dictatorships a Stratocracy or juntas are rule by the military Technocracy is rule by Scientists Theocracy is rule by religion Ideally a Democracy is not supposed to be ruled by special interest groups The people are represented by their leaders who make decisions that reflect the interests of the whole This is why no decision is ever made by governments unless it will have a direct effect on the current generation as he pointed out 4 As a total offside comment it seems sad to me that often it is the US Americans who are opposed to abortion who are the most willing to ignore scientific reality environmental pollution and mismanagement and wildlife trafficking It would seem that people who think children have a right to life would be concerned about the life they are leaving behind I think this happens because many Americans vote by party and support the policies of their chosen party rather than thinking about the issues In a better world politicians would want to do the right things and not just follow the platform Gertner gives glaciology a thourough treatment in this book He covers some of the well known glaciers like Helheim Glacier in east Greenland Jakobshavn Glacier a fracturing river of ice flowing from a channel on the western edge of the ice sheet and Thwaites in Antarctica He explains the support of ice shelves He talks about the Paris Accord goals The most realistic answer he presents is the fact that the year 2100 has increasingly become a benchmark for the climate community for working towards concrete improvements in managing the human effect on the environment A few thousand years ago for instance Alley notes that you can see the little blip of the Romans This would mean the residue of ancient smelters in Spain and elsewhere which the Romans used to burn ore to render silver The process released lead into the air as a by product which eventually was deposited in snow that fell on Greenland In recent cores Alley says we can see lead traces from the fumes of the industrial revolution which began in the late 1700s And then eventually in cores from the twentieth century the unmistakable fingerprint from leaded gasoline comes through And yet something interesting happens in the 1980s Lead traces in the ice mostly disappear We turned it off We cleaned it up Alley says pointing to the switch in automobiles to unleaded gasoline after lead was banned by environmental regulations And the world didn t end and the economy didn t end And you can t look back at economic data and find a horrible disaster that happened when we decided we didn t want to poison ourselves with lead I recommend this book for anyone interested in the science of glaciology It is an intriguing work and well written I did feel like the focus strayed from the science a few times and focused on politics a bit than it could have But that is not unusual in pop science This is not an academic work at any rate and is written as something for the average adult reader And it is written in a manner that is easy enough to follow without too much scientific jargon I enjoyed reading it and will hopefully read of Mr Gertner s books in the future though they may not find a spot in my current Journey Around the World in 80 Books for 2019 So many books So little time


10 thoughts on “The Ice at the End of the World An Epic Journey Into Greenland's Buried Past and Our Perilous Future

  1. says:

    35 Impeccably presented and in an interesting manner the author begins with a lost colony on Greenland and the early explorers who

  2. says:

    This book has three themes all centered on Greenland’s ice sheet 1500 miles long nearly 700 miles wide and up to 10000 feet deep holding three uadrillion tons of ice Gertner begins with adventure describing explorations of Greenland’s ice covered interior from the 1880’s through the 1930s In this part Gertner gives us the personal stories of the explorers the risks they took and the hardships they endur

  3. says:

    This was a fascinating book Part 1 was a look at the early exploration of Greenland by European and American adventurers Part 2 was a scientific look at what the ice of Greenland has revealed about the history of the global climate the changes seen in the past and what it has revealed about our potential future E

  4. says:

    A Microcosm of Glaciology And The Politics That PayThe book that needed to be written; The Ice at the End of th

  5. says:

    I found this fascinating It's part explorer history part scientific laboratory It's really a history about how we know what we know and don't know about Greenland and the ArcticOf course in the end it's frightening because we've known for decades what was happening with climate change and humanity refuses to act morally or selflessly to mitigate the impending changes that the loss of the Greenland ice sheets and mega glaciers in A

  6. says:

    This is a fascinating book that covers the long history of the exploration of and research on Greenland's ice It starts with early explorations of the area What crazy adventures I cannot imagine anything worse that trekking across all that ice This section definitely reminds me of Endurance Shackleton's Incredi

  7. says:

    This is an important book Deniers argue that climate change is a recent and invented or conversely a natural phenomenon Jon Gertner spent several years working on this book to prove that the current climate change is none of those things but in fact has been evident for many decades and is human caused The arena he selected for his tale is Greenland the world's largest island covered in a sheet of ice that is in places several thousands

  8. says:

    This is a survey of the scientific exploration and research of Greenland’s glaciers over the past century and a half Through courageous explorers and dedicated scientists this research has helped humans understand how polar ice impacts global meteorology and geology As the survey moves to the present this research is

  9. says:

    “Snowflakes fall to the earth and leave a message” even when they melt The world’s largest island Halfway between Europe and North America hello WWII military outpostPopulation just north of 56k80% covered by an ice sheet 700 x 1500 miles wideBegun over 1M years ago when small snow falls began to pile comp

  10. says:

    In a line One part history of the early efforts to explore Greenland's vast ice sheets one part history of how pal