Wood, Gillen D’Arcy
Land of Wondrous Cold
The Race to Discover Antarctica and Unlock the Secrets of Its Ice
Aims and Scope
A history of the first race to Antarctica that weaves the great polar discoveries of the nineteenth century with scientific breakthroughs of the modern era
Antarctica, the ice kingdom hosting the South Pole, looms large in the human imagination. The secrets of this vast frozen desert have long tempted explorers, but its brutal climate and glacial shores notoriously resist human intrusion. Land of Wondrous Cold tells a gripping story of the pioneer nineteenth-century voyages, when British, French, and American commanders raced to penetrate Antarctica’s glacial rim for unknown lands beyond. These intrepid Victorian explorers—James Ross, Dumont D’Urville, and Charles Wilkes—laid the foundation for our current understanding of Terra Australis Incognita.
Today, the white continent poses new challenges, as scientists race to uncover Earth’s climate history recorded in the south polar ice and ocean floor, and to monitor the increasing instability of the Antarctic ice cap, which threatens inundation of coastal cities worldwide. Interweaving the breakthrough research of the modern Ocean Drilling Program with the dramatic discovery tales of their Victorian-era forerunners, Gillen D’Arcy Wood describes Antarctica’s role in a planetary drama of plate tectonics, climate change, and species evolution stretching back more than thirty million years. An original, multifaceted portrait of the polar continent emerges, illuminating our profound connection to Antarctica in its past, present, and future incarnations.
A deep-time history of monumental scale, Land of Wondrous Cold brings the remotest of worlds within close reach—an Antarctica vital to both planetary history and human fortunes.
- 312 pages
- 24 b/w illus. 12 maps.
- PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Adventurers; exploration; expedition; geographers; travelogue; adventure; National Geographic; Scott Polar Research Institute; Smithsonian; Royal Geographical Society; environment; global warming; Ernest Shackleton; Roald Amundsen; Robert Falcon Scott; Terra Nova; Antarctic Circle; ice shelf; glacier; Ross Ice Shelf; Great Ice Barrier; the Barrier; Erebus; Terror; Cape Adare; sedimentary core; Eocene; Oligocene; La Grand Coupure; the Big Break; polar research; Astrolabe; Zélée; Vincennes; James Weddell; Benjamin Morrell; United States Exploring Expedition; Edward Sabine; Royal Society; Explorers Club; John Franklin; glaciation; paleoclimatology; The Spiritual History of Ice; A History of Antarctic Science; G. E. Fogg; Magnificent Voyagers; Herman Viola; Twenty Years Before the Mast; Charles Erskine; continental drift
- General/trade;Professional and scholarly;College/higher education;
"Weaving together paleoclimatology, a narrative of nineteenth-century exploration, and modern sensibilities, Land of Wondrous Cold fills a niche for the historically minded reader. Filled with evocative storytelling, this is a good book for a long cruise to Antarctica."—James R. Fleming, Colby College
"This highly readable book takes a set of nineteenth-century interrelated exploration voyages to Antarctica and juxtaposes their stories with one of contemporary scientific discovery. By looking at lesser-known expeditions alongside engaging and current scientific elements, Land of Wondrous Cold makes a significant contribution."—Michael Bentley, Durham University