Waters of the World
The Story of the Scientists Who Unravelled the Mysteries of Our Oceans, Atmosphere and Ice Sheets and Made the Planet Whole
How we unravelled the mysteries of Earth's water – and in doing so discovered a global climate.
We’re taught early on about the importance of water, about how our bodies are largely made up of water and how Earth is the blue planet. Water makes life possible, and we seek evidence of its traces when exploring Mars, distant moons and exoplanets. Less well-known is how the extraordinary forms of water that pervade our environment – clouds, glaciers, waves, rain – not only give rise to life but, more importantly, create, sustain and change the climate on which life depends.
Starting in the 1850s, with the advent of large-scale international meteorological efforts, and ending in the present day, Waters of the World tells the story of how we sought to understand the weather – and ended up discovering a global climate. Through the adventures of the scientists who pioneered this new climate science, Sarah Dry weaves a gripping tale of how we came to our acute awareness of the interconnectedness of all things on our planet. Along the way we learn how storms in the Southern Ocean generate waves that end up on Alaskan beaches; how water vapour in the atmosphere creates a heat blanket, protecting the planet from the cold of interstellar space; how isotopes in rainwater circulate throughout the globe, preserving evidence of temperature changes across space and time.
The first book on water to focus exclusively on the physics of the environment, Waters of the World brings this important science to life by getting as close as possible to the remarkable individuals at the heart of the research – very human stories of love, tragedy, rivalry, muddle, mistakes, intuition, creativity and disappointment. The result is an intimate chronicle of amazing discoveries made in the most remote places on Earth – discoveries that together profoundly transformed our understanding of our changing planet.