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Antarctic Research Features

Icy PlanetA new book, titled The Icy Planet: Saving Earth's Refrigerator, by Colin P. Summerhayes has been published by Oxford University Press.

Colin Summerhayes is a chartered geologist and Emeritus Associate for the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University. He previously served as Executive Director of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Reseach (2004-2010). He has carried out research and managed research programmes on aspects of past climate change in academia, in government laboratories, in intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and in industry since obtaining a PhD in Geochemistry from Imperial College, London, in 1970. 

The Icy Planet: Saving Earth's Refrigerator takes readers to Antarctica, the Arctic and the high mountains, to see what is happening to their ice, snow and permafrost. Ice and snow reflect solar energy back to space, keeping the planet cool. As global overheating melts them away, we are losing this refrigeration factor, which adds to global overheating. The author begins by laying out the evidence for carbon dioxide as the control knob of climate, and hence of sea level, for the past 1000 million years, before exploring the effects of climate change in the three main icy regions. He shows us how climate change will likely affect us and the planet as we approach the end of this century and beyond. His story ends by analysing how politics and economics are determining our response to global overheating, reminding readers of the enormous global challenges inherent in changing from a fossil fuel to a renewable energy infrastructure. There is no overnight solution. Can we save Earth's refrigerator? Will Net Zero work? Addressing these key questions Summerhayes is cautiously optimistic about our chances provided we have the collective will to act on what we know.

More information on the book is available here.


Summerhayes, Colin P. (2022) The Icy Planet: Saving Earth's Refrigerator, Oxford University Press.

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