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In the 50 yrs. (years) between the third (1957–1959) and fourth International Polar Year (2007–2009), our understanding of the ice, as a material substance and geomorphic agent, has been transformed. Considered a robust frigid material in the 1950s, the ice was something to be endured, conquered, and studied. As prolonged scientific inquiry and research programs in ice-based places increased during the 1950s, our understandings of these complex material geographies significantly increased, as did the sciences of glaciology, seismology, and ice sheet dynamics. Poised on a delicate, irreversible climatic threshold, the ice is now a key indicator of environmental change and its consequences for human societies, from the glacial meltwaters of the Himalayas to the inhabited Arctic.

We live on a planet whose landscape surfaces are predominately ...

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