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Frozen Earth

The Once and Future Story of Ice Ages

Doug Macdougall (Author), Doug Macdougall (Other)

Available worldwide
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Hardcover, 267 pages
ISBN: 9780520239227
October 2004
$58.95, £43.95
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In this engrossing and accessible book, Doug Macdougall explores the causes and effects of ice ages that have gripped our planet throughout its history, from the earliest known glaciation—nearly three billion years ago—to the present. Following the development of scientific ideas about these dramatic events, Macdougall traces the lives of many of the brilliant and intriguing characters who have contributed to the evolving understanding of how ice ages come about. As it explains how the great Pleistocene Ice Age has shaped the earth's landscape and influenced the course of human evolution, Frozen Earth also provides a fascinating look at how science is done, how the excitement of discovery drives scientists to explore and investigate, and how timing and chance play a part in the acceptance of new scientific ideas.

Macdougall describes the awesome power of cataclysmic floods that marked the melting of the glaciers of the Pleistocene Ice Age. He probes the chilling evidence for "Snowball Earth," an episode far back in the earth's past that may have seen our planet encased in ice from pole to pole. He discusses the accumulating evidence from deep-sea sediment cores, as well as ice cores from Greenland and the Antarctic, that suggests fast-changing ice age climates may have directly impacted the evolution of our species and the course of human migration and civilization. Frozen Earth also chronicles how the concept of the ice age has gripped the imagination of scientists for almost two centuries. It offers an absorbing consideration of how current studies of Pleistocene climate may help us understand earth's future climate changes, including the question of when the next glacial interval will occur.
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

1. Ice, Ice Ages, and Our Planet’s Climate History
2. Fire, Water, and God
3. Glaciers and Fossil Fish
4. The Evidence
5. Searching for the Cause of Ice Ages
6. Defrosting Earth
7. The Ice Age Cycles
8. Our Planet’s Icy Past
9. Coring for the Details
10. Ice Ages, Climate, and Evolution
11. The Last Millennium
12. Ice Ages and the Future

Suggestions for Further Reading
Index
Doug Macdougall is Professor of Earth Science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He is the author of A Short History of Planet Earth: Mountains, Mammals, Fire and Ice (1996).
"Offers authoritative speculation and explanations of future climate changes, their causes, and their impact on both the natural world and human civilization."—Forecast
“Packed with detailed information ... Macdougall's engaging style makes it a pleasurable and thought-provoking read. “—Library Journal
“Lucid and informative . . . accessible to the interested layperson.”—Publishers Weekly
“A remarkable story. . . . Nowadays, with climate change acknowledged in the media, perhaps the causes and consequences of past changes will once again become truly popular issues. This book may help make them so.”—New Scientist
“Frozen Earth . . . should be required reading for anyone interested in the future of the planet.”—Times Higher Ed Supplement (Thes)
“Frozen Earth is a comfortable-to-read ecotale, exactly the right present to keep a liberal granny quiet in the post-Hanukkah, post-Christmas longueurs before the world begins again in 2005. Denied North by Northwest again, while the kids soak in neo-reality reloading The Matrix, she can lose herself in a palaeo-world by the fireside. Who knows, she might rise up on wings of an eagle and force them to watch The Day After Tomorrow. “—Nature
“It was not until the 1800s that close observers of the countryside were able to supply a kind of forensic geology to the scars left behind by flowing ice, and thereby reconstruct the chronology of glaciations past. Doug Macdougall . . . tells an enlightening tale of how that knowledge came to be, and what the science of geology has discovered about the causes and consequences of the ice ages in recent years.”—Natural History
"This is a highly readable account of the nature of ice ages throughout earth's history and the evolution of their scientific understanding since the introduction of the term by Louis Agassiz in the 1830s. The shifts in opinion on the merits of the various explanations of ice ages traced by Macdougall make fascinating reading."—Roger Barry, Director, National Snow and Ice Data Center

"Frozen Earth is a thorough and compelling account of the history of ice on earth and of the scientists who uncovered the extraordinary role that ice ages have played in shaping our world."—Gabrielle Walker, author of Snowball Earth

"A fascinating and important read."—Jack Repcheck, author of The Man Who Found Time

"Macdougall takes us on a fascinating journey through the realm of ice age science. He deciphers some of the basic mysteries of the bitter climatic regimes that have gripped the earth in the past and will probably grip it again in the future. This engrossing book has important lessons for anyone concerned with global warming and future climatic change."—Brian Fagan, author of The Little Ice Age

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