”Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised,” wrote Apsley Cherry-Garrard of his time with the 1910 Scott expedition to the South Pole. And that’s how most of us still imagine polar expeditions: stolid men with ice riming their beards drawing sledges and risking death for scientific knowledge. But polar science has changed drastically over the past century—as Chris Linder shows us, brilliantly, with Science on Ice.
An oceanographer and award-winning photographer, Linder chronicles four polar expeditions in this richly illustrated volume: to a teeming colony of Adélie penguins, through the icy waters of the Bering Sea in spring, beneath the pack ice of the eastern Arctic Ocean, and over the lake-studded surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Each trip finds Linder teamed up with a prominent science journalist, and together their words and pictures reveal the day-to-day details of how science actually gets done at the poles. Breathtaking images of the stark polar landscape alternate with gritty, close-up shots of scientists working in the field, braving physical danger and brutal conditions, and working with remarkable technology designed to survive the poles—like robotic vehicles that chart undersea mountain ranges—as they gather crucial information about our planet’s distant past, and the risks that climate change poses for its future.
The result is a combination travel book and paean to the hard work and dedication that underlies our knowledge of life on earth. Science on Ice takes readers to the farthest reaches of our planet; science has rarely been more exciting—or inspiring.
Chris Linder is a research associate in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Physical Oceanography Department and a professional freelance photographer.