Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed


Studying Antarctica has never been for the fainthearted."Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L. E. G. Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912, returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard to try to save his comrades, beset by hardship."—Inscription on a cross placed near presumed final resting place of Antarctic explorer Lawrence "Titus" Oates, The Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-1913 "We have one survival bag for every two people."—Antarctic paleontologist William ...

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Studying Antarctica has never been for the fainthearted."Hereabouts died a very gallant gentleman, Captain L. E. G. Oates of the Inniskilling Dragoons. In March 1912, returning from the Pole, he walked willingly to his death in a blizzard to try to save his comrades, beset by hardship."—Inscription on a cross placed near presumed final resting place of Antarctic explorer Lawrence "Titus" Oates, The Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-1913 "We have one survival bag for every two people."—Antarctic paleontologist William Hammer, Transantarctic Vertebrate Paleontology Project, 2004 "When the ice cracks, it can sound like massive thunder rolls that seem to go on forever. If it is a serious cracking in the ice, it literally sounds like canon shots."—Eighth-grade science teacher and Antarctic diver Robin Ellwood, Lake Ecosystems in Antarctica Project, 2008-2009 Humanity's fascination with the land at the bottom of the globe dates back at least to the ancient Romans, who imagined Terra Australis Incognita—the "unknown southern land"—and drew it on their maps even though no one had ever seen it. It took a thousand years for this unknown land to become known. Despite the many people who have since visited it, conquering the Antarctic frontier is a never-ending challenge that calls scientists and explorers to risk their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Frozen Secrets is the tale of a continent, the inside story of the critical, cutting-edge research that brave men and women from around the world have done and still do in Antarctica. Sally M. Walker traces expeditions from the earliest explorers to today's research stations, where contemporary scientists work in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Whether they study the formation of polar ice or the stratigraphy of ancient rock or the fossils of newly discovered dinosaurs or the chemistry of air trapped in miniscule frozen bubbles, the scientists working in Antarctica are building a body of knowledge that will influence future generations as they make choices that could affect the course of the whole planet.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Antarctica has been a source of allure and mystery since the time of Ptolemy, two millennia ago. Walker whets the reader's appetite for more, covering such topics as early and current explorations and methods of scientific study, the various dangers and challenges of the terrain, the science of snow, ice and glaciers, geological history, animal life, and what future discoveries may reveal about the region. The majestic beauty of the land is often juxtaposed with the harsh and deadly realities of the climate. Beginning with the first black-and-white images from 1910 to modern images taken from space, the awesome photographs capture a bit of the wonder of the landscape and what it is like for the explorers and scientists who live and work there. The main text is offset in an icy blue bubble for easy reading while photos, graphs, diagrams, maps and charts accent the text and give additional information. There is an index, glossary, listing of source notes and bibliography and a list of books and websites for further reading. This is a beautiful book, perfect for classrooms or cold-climate enthusiasts. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
Kirkus Reviews
No ice crystal is left unturned in this sweeping historical and scientific examination of Antarctica. It's a relatively new "discovery"; the first person to set foot on the continent was a Briton in 1821. Walker briefly chronicles the ill-fated expeditions of such explorers as Scott and Shackleton, as well as Amundsen's successful trek to the South Pole. Although several nations have been engaged in serious research on the continent for more than 50 years, Antarctica remains a mysterious scientific frontier. The author explains Antarctica's unique place in international diplomacy and collaboration with the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. The text succinctly discusses complex discoveries made in such fields as biology, climatology, geology, oceanography and paleontology and the implications these discoveries have on understanding the planet as a whole. Attention is also given to the difficult, often dangerous conditions under which scientists must live and work. Photographs, maps and other illustrations, many in color, appear on every one of the attractively designed pages. Informative, insightful and engaging, this is an exceptional introduction to our southernmost continent. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, further reading and websites, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—All of Walker's impressive writing talents are on display in this book on the frozen continent. The author's clear and lively narrative begins with a brief history of the first explorers, including some grisly deaths, and then describes in detail the work of current researchers. Walker paints a vivid picture of the hardships and special considerations required of those who work in Antarctica. Children will almost shiver as they read the description of the scuba diver's preparations to enter an icy lake. Additionally, the author does a great job of explaining some really complex scientific activities, such as mapping the ground using ice-penetrating radar, so that readers without great knowledge of advanced science can grasp how this work is done. She also shows how Antarctic research can help them understand global climate change and other types of earth-science research. Nearly every page has sharp color photos of the continent and researchers in action or explanatory diagrams. With its superb design and Walker's gripping prose, this book will draw readers in and keep them involved.—Denise Schmidt, San Francisco Public Library
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sally M. Walker is the author of many award-winning nonfiction books for young readers. Her book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley won the prestigious Sibert award in 2006. And her title Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland was a finalist for the inaugural YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award in 2010. When she isn't busy writing or doing research for books, Ms. Walker works as a children's literature consultant, presenting at schools and reading conferences. She also has taught a course in evaluating children's literature at Northern Illinois University.

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  • Posted October 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An utterly amazing journey

    Antarctica has always appeared to be a cold and forbidding place, yet is one that has fascinated us for centuries. Robert Falcon Scott ventured to the continent in 1910, but was unable to land due to extremely harsh weather conditions. Much to his disappointment, he was not the first to explore the continent. Norwegian Roald Amundsen attained that record a mere thirty-five days before Scott did in January of 1912. He painfully wrote in his journal that "The Norwegians have forestalled us and are first to the Pole. It is a terrible disappointment, and I am very sorry for my loyal companions... " His dreams had been shattered, yet many would follow in his footsteps, attempting to uncover the secrets the frozen land held beneath its ice. Many bold adventurers followed and even today "more than thirty-thousand tourists visit Antarctica on ships each year." Scientists from around the world have set up stations on the continent to delve into its past in an attempt to find out what may be in store for us in the future. It was once a mysterious place that could only be seen from the decks of a ship. It is a continent so cold that in 1983 it could lay claim to the "coldest temperature ever recorded on earth: -128 degrees F." Why would anyone want to explore such a cold, barren wasteland? Scientists have learned that amazing things lurk beneath the ice. Amazingly, 90 percent of all the Earth's fresh water supply is underneath Antarctica's snow and ice. They have learned how long it takes to form glacial ice, they have created a video to compress "millions of years of ice movement into a seconds long video," they are mapping the landscape beneath the ice with up to date technology such as "ice-penetrating radar," and they are drilling ice cores to find "clues about Antarctica's past climates." This book will allow you to journey to the end of the world and learn about the most amazing "frozen secrets" right along with the scientists. Did you know that there is a "colossal iceberg" off Antarctica's shores that is "only a little smaller than the state of Connecticut?" How about a lake the size of Lake Ontario, three miles beneath the ice? Strange, but true! This book is an utterly amazing journey to Antarctica, the land of "frozen secrets." This is the type of book that not only young people can find themselves immersed in, but also the adult audience. Usually books on Antarctica tend to focus on explorers, animal life, and its harsh climate, but this one delves under the ice, revealing secrets that are simply astounding. The reader will encounter everything from microbial life forms in the water under the ice to paleontologists who discovered the fossilized remains of the Cryolophosaurus elliot, the "frozen crested lizard." The exploration of this "other worldly place" will give us a glimpse of what we may or may not experience in our future. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore. No spoilers here, but if you want to read one of the best books out there on the secrets of Antarctica, this one is sure to please! Quill says: This book is an utterly amazing journey to Antarctica, the land of "frozen secrets!"

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