Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Preface: to the New Paperback Edition

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xvi

You may find it odd to segue from the smart phone in your pocket to the bottom of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the history of our climate. But for a trip as strange as this one, the phone is a fine place to start...

PART I: SETTING THE STAGE

read more

1. Fast Forward

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 3-10

We live with familiar weather—ski areas are snowy, deserts are parched, rain forests drip. But what if our climate jumped to something totally unexpected? What if you went to bed in slushy Chicago, but woke up with Atlanta’s mild weather? Or...

read more

2. Pointers to the Past

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 11-14

To read the record of past climate shifts, we have to find the right history book. Humans hadn’t yet mastered writing the last time the climate jumped, so we can’t look up the answer in the library. Fortunately, there is a sort of “library” in ice...

PART II: READING THE RECORD

read more

3. Going to Greenland

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 17-30

Drilling ice cores in Greenland or Antarctica usually involves getting on a ski-equipped plane and flying a few hundred miles over snow to a place where people live in tents at a temperature of thirty degrees below zero. Using an assortment of snowmobiles, skis, caterpillar tractors, computers...

read more

4. The Icy Archives—Ice Sheets and Glaciers

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 31-40

The ice of Greenland gives us incomparable records of past climates in and beyond Greenland. Tree-ring-like layers tell us how old the ice is. We can read how temperature and snowfall have changed in Greenland. Dust and sea salt in the ice were transported to Greenland by wind, and changes...

read more

5. Ice Age through the Ice Age

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 41-58

History is the story of what events occurred, and of when those events occurred. In this chapter, we will discuss how climate historians date ice cores and other sediments, and in the next chapters we will go on to see how to read the story of what happened...

read more

6. How Cold of Old?

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 59-70

Temperature dominates much discussion of climate. Humans live differently in hot summers than in cold winters, and differently in hot tropics than in cold polar regions. Our ancestors certainly noticed the cold of the ice age, and we spend much effort debating whether we will be affected by human-caused...

read more

7. Dust in the Wind

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 71-76

Whatever blows around in the air can land on an ice sheet and be buried in the snow. We can then analyze those materials and learn the history of things in the atmosphere.
Aerosols—small particles in the air—have many sources. Dust blows from continents, and especially from the great deserts...

read more

8. Tiny Bubbles in the Ice

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 77-80

Most glacier ice is bubbly. As snow turns to ice, much of the air between the ice grains is squeezed out, but some is trapped as bubbles. Ice is a great material for bottling old air—gas molecules don’t interact with the ice much, and gas molecules have a great deal of difficulty moving through the ice. The bubbles...

PART III: CRAZY CLIMATES

read more

9. The Saurian Sauna

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 83-90

By now, I hope that you are convinced that a dedicated team of drillers, pilots, cooks, scientists, and others can pull a two-mile- long piece of ice out of Greenland, cut up the ice, analyze it, and tell you how and when the climate changed in Greenland and in many other places. Our friends can analyze...

read more

10. The Solar System Swing

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 91-98

Earth appears to have had a significant amount of ice for at least the last few million years, so we are away from the warm end of the full range of Earth climates. But the climate has been far from static over these few million cold years. Ice covers 10 percent of our land today, but covered 30 percent...

read more

11. Dancing to the Orbital Band

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 99-108

We must now solve two riddles—why tiny changes in sunlight over 100,000 years have caused such huge changes in the world’s climate, and why sunlight on Canada, Europe, and Siberia is more important than sunlight on New Zealand Antarctica, or many other places. Neither riddle has been fully...

read more

12. What the Worms Turned

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 109-128

We have now seen that Earth’s climate didn’t change too much over billions of years, and that ice-free and icy times have alternated over hundreds of millions of years, leaving us in an icy time during which glaciers have grown and shrunk over the last hundreds of thousands of years. The most...

PART IV: WHY THE WEIRDNESS?

read more

13. How Climate Works

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 131-146

The Greenland ice cores and other records show that climate changes large enough and rapid enough to scare civilized peoples have occurred repeatedly in the past, and that our civilization has risen during an anomalously stable time. We would like to understand the climate jumps to learn whether...

read more

14. A Chaotic Conveyor?

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 147-158

Conveyor belts in grocery stores usually work quite well, but occasionally one will fail. The great oceanic conveyor can also fail, tipping the world into new and unexpected climates.
Suppose you wanted to stop a grocery conveyor. You could locate some of the store’s special, limited-time-only...

read more

15. Shoving the System

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 159-166

Why must the climate keep jumping among rows and levels, rather than settling down to watch the concert? We have a good story for the Heinrich events, with changes in ice sheets causing sudden delivery of fresh water to the north Atlantic...

PART V: COMING CRAZINESS?

read more

16. Fuelish

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 169-180

Ice cores and other sediments show that large, rapid, and widespread climate changes have been common on Earth for most of the time for which we have good records, but have been absent during the critical few millennia during which...

read more

17. Down the Road

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 181-184

What are the odds that natural or human activities will trigger an abrupt climate change big enough, fast enough, and soon enough to matter in economic discussions? The simple answer, again, is that we do not know. The widespread realization that such an event is even possible is only a few years...

read more

18. An Ice-Core View of the Future

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 185-192

By now, we have extracted a lot of information from the Greenland ice cores and many other sources. I hope you are convinced that the climate has changed in the past—greatly, rapidly, and across much of Earth. Such changes could happen again, and cause grave problems for humans. Humans...

read more

Appendix 1. A Cast of Characters

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 193-198

It is impossible to mention the hundreds of people who contributed to the success of GISP2, and the thousands who have worked on the ocean cores, tree rings, model building, and other aspects of this story. Yet it is equally impossible in good conscience to finish a book such as this without mentioning at least...

read more

Appendix 2. Usage of Units

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 199-200

In 1999, NASA lost a spacecraft on Mars and a lot of taxpayer money because of a miscommunication over units. Scientists and other technical people in the United States live in a peculiar world in which miles and meters, pounds and pascals mix in a confusing way. Our lives would be easier if the United States...

Sources and Related Information

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 201-222

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 223-224

A writer takes credit for the words of a thousand people, and can only hope to have done justice to those from whom the words were borrowed. I’ve been fortunate to borrow from some of the best, and I thank them...

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 225-229