The work of Myron Arms represents the best qualities of literary science writing; his intelligent, curious mind spins lyrical accounts of natural phenomena and the world around us. During a 1991 sailing expedition off the coast of Labrador, the author is blocked by a surprising and frustrating mass of ice--an unusual event occurring out of season and during a particularly warm summer. Riddle of the Ice is the result of that trip, and although the riddle is never really answered, we are treated to a fun--and informative--shaggy-dog inquiry that probes nautical science, weather patterns, and deep shifts in our environment. All of this is told in an engaging voice capable of turning an implacable mass of ice into a richly textured character at the center of a strange mystery.
By any account, the impenetrable barrier of sea ice that blocked the Brendan's Isle halfway up the Labrador Coast should not have been there in late July, in what was one of the hottest summers in memory a few hundred miles to the south. Frustrated and mystified at having to turn back so early in his 1991 northbound voyage, sailor Myron Arms became determined to explain the anomaly.
Three years later, having pursued this obsession from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Arms took his fifty-foot sailboat and a small crew back up the coast to test his ideas--this time making it past the Arctic Circle.
The days and nights at sea are an experience of both untold vastness and the closest of quarters, of calm seas one hour and pounding gales the next. And by the time the Brendan's Isle rides the great swells of Baffin Bay, north of everything but towering icebergs, the reader can be in no doubt that, together with the crew, he is holding a finger to the very pulse of our planet.
Weaving together the unfolding narrative of the voyage itself with a groundbreaking synthesis of the latest theories about Arctic ice production--and the troubling signals it may now be sending us--Riddle of the Ice is a taut and suspenseful science mystery told as captain's log. This is narrative nonfiction of the highest calibre, and it is certain to become a classic in the genre.
From the Hardcover edition.
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