Tuesday, August 18, 2020

ARC Review: The Hidden Life of Ice by Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores D'Arcais; forward by Elizabeth Kolbert

49150932. sy475 Title:The Hidden Life of Ice: Dispatches From A Disappearing World
Series: n/a
Author: Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores D'Arcais; forward by Elizabeth Kolbert
Source/Format: Netgalley (publisher); eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: The Experiment; August 18, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
One of the least known and least inhabited parts of the world, Greenland is a singular place on Earth from which to look for the future of our planet and question its history. Glaciologist Marco Tedesco, a world-leading expert on ice and on climate change, takes us along as he and his fellow researchers conduct all-important measurements to understand the dramatic changes afoot on the immense polar ice cap. Following the arc of a typical day as a working scientist, Tedesco tells us about improbable “polar camels,” cryoconite holes (the only place where life grows in the icy expanse), and gigantic meteorite debris. We also learn of the epic deeds of the great Arctic explorers (both men and, perhaps surprisingly, women) and about legends of the rare local populations. A Day at the Top of the World offers a vantage point on the future from a place in which temperatures are rising at double the average rate of the rest of the planet.
The Hidden Life of Ice is a short and fascinating—and cautionary—look at, well, ice. Specifically Greenland’s ice sheets and how the changes to it can be applied to the situation happening to the other, coldest parts of Earth, like the Artic. The book was more of the author’s personal experience of his time spent studying the ice. It was interspersed with historical facts, some mythology from Greenland, and the science behind the ice and the changes happening to it—caused by global warming and other natural climate changes and factors.

There are so many different parts of The Hidden Life of Ice that interested me. As a whole, I liked it. What I greatly enjoyed was the parts of the book when Tedesco dug his heels into the topic and really got into the science about ice. His enthusiasm about this subject was easy to read. It was present on the page, especially in the way he talked about his and others work in the field. There were also photos in the book, and it was pretty cool getting a look at some of the locations described by Tedesco.

Among my favorite chapters in the book, was the one on the color of ice. I already knew about the general concept of white surfaces being more reflective, due to personal experience with walking on a ground paved with white stones—it was extremely bright in comparison to, say, grass or concrete sidewalks. I can imagine what it was like to be surrounded by ice and snow. So it was interesting to learn about the way they studied the light (“spectral fingerprint”). I also enjoyed the chapters about the microscopic organisms, the polar camels, ice abyss, and the one about the lakes as well.

Given how timely the topic of climate change is, this book was well worth the read. It offered a direct look at the changes happening to ice, and what could result from it. While also taking a look at how these environments are studied. Overall, The Hidden Life of Ice was a fantastic read.

About the author...

Marco Tedesco is a research professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, located in Palisades, NY. Originally from Italy, he received his Laurea degree and PhD in Italy from the University of Naples and the Italian National Research Council. He went on to join the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a postdoc and later a professor and became the founder and director of the Cryosphere Processes Laboratory. Tedesco has been featured in Science and has spoken as a climate change expert for The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Wired, and others.

About the author...

Alberto Flores d'Arcais was born in Rome and graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in philosophy. He wrote for newspapers and magazines during the 1970s and became editor-in-chief of Frigidaire in 1980. He has reported on topics like civil wars, drug trafficking, the Arab spring, wars in the Balkans, and collapses of dictatorships since the 1980s; he is also well known for his interviews with world leaders and culture icons. In 2002, Alberto Flores d'Arcais earned the John S. Knight Fellowship for Journalism from Stanford University, and authored New York in 2007. He now spends his time between New York and Rome.

About the author....

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. Her journalism has garnered multiple awards, including a 2006 National Academies Communication Award for her three-part series "The Climate of Man," which investigated the consequences of disappearing ice on the planet. She is author of The Prophet of Love, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015. She received the Blake-Dodd Prize, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2017.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (The Experiment) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!


  1. very interesting. i love anything to do with water and ice is frozen water, so it makes me curious. i know there are conflicting views about global warming so we have to do our research
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. I know what you mean about global warming (I want to be informed). Ice is a fascinating subject to read about, and I thoroughly enjoyed Tedesco's account of his time spent studying it. Thanks for stopping by!


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