Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades)
By: Sally M. Walker
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: October 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2010
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. Captain Cook saw Antarctica on January 17, 1773 from his ship, the "Resolution," but was unable to land. Scientists can now readily reach Antarctica's frozen shores. 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?
It was decided that Antarctica would be "used for peaceful purposes only" and that the "scientists from all countries must freely share the information they obtain." The daring were desirous of climbing Vinson Massif, "one of Earth's Seven Summits," but there was information to be gleaned from beneath the ice. Everyone who was to spend any amount of time would have to attend "survival school," otherwise known as "Happy Camper School." Antarctica's weather "is intolerant of foolhardy behavior, so scientists take learning these survival skills seriously."
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!"