All Canadians come into a world that is shaped by snow and ice, and I am exceptionally privileged in this regard. I was born in the heart of winter in Matheson, Ontario, a small mining town in the northern part of the province where one can count on snow cover from Halloween to Mother's Day. For half a year the snow is part of your fabric, and for the other half of the year one can bike, run, and paddle the landforms and lakes formed by the great ice sheets that carved the landscape. I took up Nordic ski racing, where I became a student of the subtle influences of snow temperature, moisture, and texture on grip and glide. I have enjoyed the company of too many friends to name (and I include my graduate students in this) on ski trips and in glacier field work. Faron Anslow, Joe Shea, Tara Moran, Kate Sinclair, Gwenn Flowers, Dave Hildes, and Phil Hammer stand out within this group. Thanks also to several pagophilic friends and colleagues that helped with this text, including Jacqueline Dumas, Eric White, Cecilia Bitz, Camille Li, and Tom Lambert.

Professionally, I am indebted to many colleagues for exposing me to the scientific wonders of snow and ice. As an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, I had a fortunate confluence with Dick Peltier, who loaned me a copy of Imbrie and Imbrie's Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery. This exposed me to the incredible rhythms and unresolved mysteries of Ice Age cycles: Earth's definitive testimony to the importance of the cryosphere in climate dynamics. I went on to study glaciology at the University of British Columbia, where I enjoyed graduate courses from J. Ross McKay, Dave McClung, and Garry Clarke in permafrost, avalanche processes, and glacier dynamics. Garry, my Ph.D. mentor, brought me to Trapridge Glacier in the Yukon: a magical setting, one of the best-studied glaciers in the world, and the incubator for many of the ideas, instruments, and research methods that underlie current understanding of glacier dynamics. Helgi Bjornsson entrained me in studies of ice caps in Iceland, where fire and ice clash with spectacular results. Martin Sharp invited me to field studies on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic, where the spring landscape is a brilliant white as far as the eye can see.

This text is intended as a brief introduction to the topic, but I hope that these pages capture the essential physics and character of the cryosphere and inspire others to further exploration of the cryosphere's role in Earth's climate. Although I have seen snow and ice in many guises, I am still a student of cryosphere dynamics. I have striven to provide a balanced perspective on all aspects of the global cryosphere, but I suspect that the depth of my understanding of certain issues, and lack thereof, shines through in places. The suggestions for further reading provide greater detail on all topics and will help to fill gaps in my coverage. Sincere thanks to

Bob Bindschadler, Koni Steffen, and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, which have improved this text. Alison Kalett at Princeton University Press has been a delight to work with, and I thank Alison and the production staff at the Press for their enthusiasm, support, and flexibility.

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Lawren S. Harris: Ellesmere Island (1930). (The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario, Canada. Gift of Mrs. Chester Harris.)

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