Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English

Essentially Charlie English's book is a travel book, in which he aims to find the deepest and softest snow around the world and investigates the extremes of snowy weather. Consequently there are plenty of stories of avalanches and ski-ing accidents. More interesting for me were the chapters on how the Inuits survive in extreme snowy conditions and on the shapes of snowflakes and the occasional nature observations.

The first chapter of the book focuses on the Inuit lifestyle, including details on how to build a perfect igloo (with accompanying illustrations in the appendix), A well made igloo shouldn't collapse under the weight of a polar bear.

The second chapter offers a brief overview of the history of scientific investigations into the shapes of snowflakes and concludes that there is much still to be learnt about the growth of snow crystals.

When researching the Scottish chapter of the book, the author found out from Adam Watson, a biologist, that ptarmigans "could fly straight into a snowdrift, kicking snow behind them so that they filled the entrance of the hole and were sheltered from the wind, and how they stayed near enough to the snow's surface that they didn't become buried, but could see when the morning light appeared and when to leave their burrows." 

Throughout the book, English catalogues the changes in snowfall over the years, both during the historical periods (such as the Little Ice Age from 1520-1560 or in the current period of climate change. So much is changing, from the lifestyles of the Inuit people, the prospects for the ski-ing industry and the very surival of snow specialist speciessuch as the ptarmigan.

This book is a recommended read for anyone who likes snow.

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English published by Portobello Books.


dosankodebbie said...

Snow is a HUGE part of my life in Sapporo, not only the 6 months we're buried in it, but also the 6 months that we're recovering from it and preparing for its return. It fascinates me. But I don't suppose he mentions Hokkaido in his book....?

sage said...

Now that I've moved to where it never snows, maybe I should read it... Sounds like an interesting book.

Anonymous said...

wow, a book about snow - something different ;) I've always found it interesting how igloos are constructed - hard to believe they can be so strong.