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210 × 148 × 16 mm
224 pages
100 illustrations, 80 in colour
11 Nov 2019

Glacier Nature and Culture Peter G. Knight

As major actors in the unfolding drama of climate change, glaciers feature prominently in Earth’s past and its future. Wherever on the planet we live, glaciers affect each of us directly. They control the atmospheric and ocean circulations that drive the weather; they supply drinking and irrigation water to millions of people; and they protect us from catastrophic sea-level rise. The very existence of glaciers affects our view of the planet and of ourselves, but it is less than 200 years since we realised that ice ages come and go, and that glaciers once covered much more of the planet’s surface than they do now.

An inspiration to artists, a challenge for engineers, glaciers mean different things to different people. Crossing the boundaries between art, environment, science, nature and culture, this book uniquely considers glaciers from a myriad perspectives, revealing their complexity, majesty and importance, but also their fragility.

‘Among the many victims of climate change are glaciers. The huge bodies of dense ice that form on land and are constantly moving from the force of their own weight no longer cover as much of Earth’s surface as they once did. In Glacier, geographer Knight discusses not only the science of glaciers but also their importance and influence on the environment, weather, and even art and culture. Featuring more than 100 illustrations, Glacier pays homage to one of Earth’s most majestic, yet fragile, features.’ — Physics Today

‘An interdisciplinary view of glaciers, drawing on both science and the humanities . . . The book is heavily illustrated with breathtaking photographs . . . [Provides] a window into how people in recent centuries perceived glaciers, as shown through works of art (including music and literature), and how geographic expeditions contributed to perceptions even into the present day . . . Recommended.’ — Choice

‘The volume is lavishly illustrated by many color images of glaciers and ice fields from around the world, including several satellite images. Knight thoughtfully documents the past and present importance of the cryosphere on our landscapes, but he also is at pains to include the events of the last two decades or so and the possible impact that the rapid changes in glaciers and ice sheets will have on communities that rely on them for water or power and also on coastal areas that might be impacted by rising relative sea level . . . In broadening the vision of glaciers, Peter Knight has contributed a series of chapters that can be enjoyed at a variety of levels and by a wide range of readers.’ — Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research

‘Marcel Proust in In Search of Lost Time wrote that the only true path of discovery is . . . not to explore new places, but to see a hundred universes with your eyes, with the eyes of hundreds of other people. And this book looks at glaciers not only through the eyes of scientists, but also . . . travelers, politicians, artists, poets and storytellers.’ — Ice and Snow, Russia

‘This beautifully illustrated book, written with panache and clarity, is based on high quality research and gives a perfect introduction to the science, history, significance and beauty of the world’s glaciers.’ — Andrew Goudie, Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Oxford

Glacier takes readers on a journey through both the material and the metaphorical dimensions of ice – with scientists and songwriters, poets and holiday hikers, from nineteenth-century debates about Ice Ages to twenty-first-century art exhibits and debates about climate change. This book is perfect for anyone captivated by mountain glaciers and curious about people’s long-standing relationships with ice.’ — Mark Carey, author of 'In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society'

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Peter G. Knight is Reader in Geography at Keele University and his research on glaciers has been published in the leading international journals. His previous books include Glaciers (1999) and Glacier Science and Environmental Change (2006). He lives in Whitchurch, UK.


1 Ways of Thinking about Glaciers
2 How Glaciers Work
3 Ice Ages: Glaciers Come, Glaciers Go
4 A Short History of Glacier Science
5 Glaciers and the Big Global System
6 Glacier Economics: Hazards, Resources, Politics
7 Glaciers in Art
8 Glacier Stories and Songs . . . Once upon a Glacier
9 Adventure, Exploration, Inspiration
10 Glaciers and the Future

Some Notable Glaciers
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements