In the 1990s, researchers in the Arctic noticed that floating summer sea ice had begun receding. This was accompanied by shifts in ocean circulation and unexpected changes in weather patterns throughout the world. The Arctic’s perennially frozen ground, known as permafrost, was warming, and treeless tundra was being overtaken by shrubs. What was going on? Brave New Arctic is Mark Serreze’s riveting firsthand account of how scientists from around the globe came together to find answers.
In a sweeping tale of discovery spanning three decades, Serreze describes how puzzlement turned to concern and astonishment as researchers came to understand that the Arctic of old was quickly disappearing — with potentially devastating implications for the entire planet. Serreze is a world-renowned Arctic geographer and climatologist who has conducted fieldwork on ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, and tundra in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic. In this must-read book, he blends invaluable insights from his own career with those of other pioneering scientists who, together, ushered in an exciting new age of Arctic exploration. Along the way, he accessibly describes the cutting-edge science that led to the alarming conclusion that the Arctic is rapidly thawing due to climate change, that humans are to blame, and that the global consequences are immense.
A gripping scientific adventure story, Brave New Arctic shows how the Arctic’s extraordinary transformation serves as a harbinger of things to come if we fail to meet the challenge posed by a warming Earth.
"[A] fascinating book about how researchers came to understand Arctic warming and its causes. . . . As he documents this process, Serreze doesn’t shy away from the failures of the Arctic research community, including his own. Particularly interesting are the mea culpas from Serreze and fellow scientists who chased scientific red herrings or, deafened by the din of natural climate variability, misread the data. The Arctic, Serreze writes, ‘tells no lies.’ But its truth can be hard to discern."—Ashley Shelby, New York Times Book Review
"[Serreze] has also written a farewell to ice. In Brave New Arctic, he relates that when he first started out in polar research, in the early eighties, he was taken with the idea of global cooling. ‘Deep down I was hoping for an ice age,’ he confesses. . . . Years passed, the ice continued to melt, and Serreze came to favor fire. ‘The weight of evidence turned me,’ he observes. ‘And then I turned hard.’ He gives the perennial sea ice until 2030 or so. ‘That the Arctic Ocean will become free of sea ice in late summer and early autumn is a given,’ he writes."—Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker
"[Brave New Arctic] delves into the recent history of Arctic research, following a trail of scientific breadcrumbs from the late 1970s to the present day to show how our understanding of the region’s response to climate and climate change has evolved over time. . . . Serreze succeeds on one important front: humanizing Arctic science. He tells anecdotes about his research and the people he’s worked with. He portrays scientists whose work he discusses as regular people."—Science
"Without the strong research on the Arctic led by people like Serreze, we would be flying blind into what could be a very dangerous future."—Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books
"[Serreze] shares the story of how he entered the field of climate science by accident; why, at first, he thought the climate might be getting colder rather than warmer, based on measurements from complicated Arctic weather systems; how, year after year, he became further convinced about the reality of global warming due to slowly accumulating data; and why he began to participate avidly in a scientific consensus combating climate-change deniers, most of whom have been politically motivated. Ultimately, what Serreze produces is a kind of detective story; the major crime is the human causation of global warming. . . . An alarming, evidence-based book by a scientist who is not by nature an alarmist."—Kirkus
"[Brave New Arctic] sounds a clarion call about the global consequences of a melting north. . . . At times the book has the feeling of a suspenseful detective novel, with dedicate scientist protagonists trying to beat the clock against impending environmental disaster, all the while battling self-interested political and corporate actors who lust after ‘resources’ that can more easily be extracted from an ice-free zone and who threaten important research work with lawsuits and funding cuts. At other times, there is a melancholy tone as the author elegizes with past observations of a frozen landscape that will never be the same again."—Foreword Reviews
"Serreze provides an arresting account of the history of climate science, written by someone who saw it all unfold before his own eyes. If you thought you had heard it all, think again, and read this book."—The Inquisitive Biologist
"What Serreze offers is a scientific detective story that shows how researchers found their way to the inevitable conclusion that the Arctic humanity has known for many centuries is gone forever, and that a new Arctic is taking its place. . . . We are living in the Anthropocene, and as Serreze shows with this brief bet detailed book, today’s Arctic is proof."—David James, Anchorage Daily News
"Serreze does a great job of explaining the science, from complex to the most basic concepts."—Kate Gardner, Physics World
"Distinguished scientist Mark Serreze provides an engaging history of how a true skeptic came to understand the human role in the changing Arctic, and how he contributed to that new knowledge."—Richard B. Alley, author of The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future
"Climatologist Mark Serreze provides a front-row seat to the unprecedented changes in the Arctic over the past three decades and the science behind our emerging understanding of their causes and consequences. Brave New Arctic is a gripping firsthand account by a scientist who saw it happen."—Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University, former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
"No one knows ice better than Mark Serreze. In Brave New Arctic, he explains how climate change is transforming the polar North and why this matters to all of us."—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
"An insightful and entertaining read. Serreze has a gift for writing eloquently and colorfully from the trenches of scientific research."—John E. Walsh, coauthor of Severe and Hazardous Weather
"Serreze gives an engaging insider's view of the struggle to understand the causes of the observed changes in the Arctic, describing how he and the broader research community came to recognize that these profound changes are a result of human impacts on the climate."—Robert Max Holmes, Woods Hole Research Center
"Serreze provides a wealth of important findings and perspectives from his decades of work in the high North and polar regions."—Robert W. Corell, Global Environment and Technology Foundation
"Brave New Arctic is well written, engaging, and informative. In detailing his personal journey, Serreze gives readers a wonderful feel for the progress of Arctic science over the past few decades."—Claire L. Parkinson, polar researcher