Cover Image: The Hidden Life of Ice

The Hidden Life of Ice

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Member Reviews

2 / 5 ✪

Hidden Life of Ice reads like a field notebook crossed with a memoir, at least if that field notebook was full of random fun-facts that you could use to impress with at trivia. Despite it being centered in Greenland, there’s very little—almost nothing really—about ice. Prior to Chapter 9, ice is only described in any length once. And for that only about in one or two paragraphs. There’s a decent amount of history—the discovery of Greenland, and its settlement; the Northwest Passage, and extinction; the birth of the universe. There’s a bit of astronomy, physics, global warming, and geology. There’s a decent amount about the author and his team, their lives before, their time in Greenland. Just very little about ice.

There was a little about the Thule, the Inuit, the Vikings—the history of the human habitation of Greenland, that was of passing interest. Though mostly it was about the Vikings and their colonization of the land. And about its naming. Then later about its use and importance to scientists. Nothing too in-depth and nothing too interesting, sadly. 

My favorite part was the brief (and I mean brief) time that the author talked about englacial flow. This is a bit like an aquifer, an underground river, just through a glacier as opposed to permeable rock. It sounds so cool! Even the author seemed impressed and amazed when he described it—only to lose focus to some other non-ice topic a few sentences later.

If you were to read this hoping for something in depth on Greenland and ice, prepare to be disappointed. If you were after a decent memoir filled with random facts about random Greenland-related topics, I guess this is the book for you. I found it boring and dry. I thought the story meandered aimlessly when I could find a story at all. But then I was expecting more about glaciology, ice science, maybe hydrology and physics. So long as you don’t go in with expectations like mine—hopefully it’ll provide a decent read.
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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.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (The Experiment) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!
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When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation,  superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I AM BORED!!)

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

A pioneering researcher’s illuminating account of Arctic ice—its secret history and dire future

Barely inhabited, the Arctic is an alien world to most of us. It also holds critical clues about the future of our planet. In The Hidden Life of Ice, Marco Tedesco invites us to Greenland, where he and his fellow scientists are doggedly researching the dramatic changes afoot. Following the arc of his typical day at work, Tedesco unearths the secrets in the ice—from the evidence of long-extinct “polar camels” to the fantastically weird microorganisms living at freezing temperatures in cryoconite holes.

Tedesco weaves together the bald facts on climate change with poetic reflections on this endangered landscape, the epic deeds of great Arctic explorers, and the legends of the rare local populations. The Hidden Life of Ice is more than a diatribe on climate—it’s a moving tribute to a beautiful place that may be gone too soon.

I have a bucket list trip to Newfoundland and Labrador to see the icebergs - I definitely cannot afford to go to Antarctica unless I win the lottery nor Greenland, the subject of this book. (My brother has been to Greenland, but he is a geology-geek-turned-yuppy who could afford it!) This book is part travelogue and part eco-climate-warrior manifesto. I loved reading this book and its stories of arctic discoveries and history and it will be a 65th b0day gift for the above-mentioned brother. 

To be picky, I don't like the book's title - "the hidden life of ..." "the secret life of  ..." is too over-used and prosaic - hey, I said that I would be honest!

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube  Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🏒🏒🏒🏒 (All that ice? Let's shinny!)
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