Ice humanities

Living, working, and thinking in a melting world

Ice humanities is a pioneering collection of essays designed to bring to the fore how change to our cryosphere is imagined and experienced. By the end of this century, we will likely be facing a world where sea ice no longer reliably forms in large areas of the Arctic Ocean, where glaciers have not just retreated but disappeared, where ice sheets collapse, and where permafrost is far from permanent. The ramifications of such change are not geophysical and biochemical – they are societal and cultural, and they are about value and loss.

Where does that leave our inherited ideas, knowledge, and experiences of ice, snow, frost, and frozen ground? How will human, animal, and plant communities superbly adapted to cold and high places cope with less, or even no, ice? The ecological services provided by ice alone are breathtaking. Just one example is the role of seasonal meltwater in providing water and food security for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The stakes could not be higher. This collection develops the field of ice humanities in order to reveal the centrality of ice in human and non-human life.

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