Watermelon Snow

Watermelon Snow

by Lynne Quarmby

Concern about the climate crisis is widespread as humans struggle to navigate life in uncertain times.

From the vantage of a schooner full of artists on an adventure in the high Arctic, biologist Lynne Quarmby explains the science that convinced her of an urgent need to act on climate change. Watermelon Snow weaves memoir, microbiology, and artistic antics together with descriptions of a sublime Arctic landscape. At the top of the warming world, Quarmby struggles with burnout and grief while an aerial artist twirls high in the ship's rigging, bearded seals sing mournfully, polar bears prowl, and glaciers crumble into the sea. In a compelling narrative, sorrow and fear are balanced by beauty and wonder.

The author's journey back from a life out of balance includes excursions into evolutionary history where her discoveries reveal the heart of human existence. The climate realities are as dark as the Arctic winter, yet this is a book of lightness and generosity.

Inspiring and deeply personal, Watermelon Snow is the story of one scientist's rediscovery of what it means to live a good life at a time of increasing desperation about the future.


Lynne Quarmby, author

Lynne Quarmby is professor of cell biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Simon Fraser University.


  • Lynne Quarmby is the most unusual of scientists. For one thing, she can write complex science, explaining cellular biology in ways that illuminate and entertain. For another, she is brave enough to face arrest to fight a pipeline. But this book is her bravest act yet - exposing a heart of knowing pain, a heartbreaking awareness of our collective unprocessed grief. - Elizabeth May, former leader, Green Party of Canada
  • Take a trip to the top of the world through the eyes of an impassioned scientist who experiences the unique landscape first-hand and, as an activist, mourns the loss of a frozen world that once was. This is a must-read for anyone concerned about the rapid changes taking place in the Arctic as it warms and the implications for the rest of the planet. - Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks
  • Quarmby writes beautifully, with a particular fondness for colour. At times, she’s an endearingly geeky scientist, who compares E. coli to drunken revellers and is utterly unafraid to admit that she once penned a villanelle for Anton van Leeuwenhoek (who discovered microbes). - Literary Review of Canada

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: McGill-Queen's University Press

email: mqup@mcgill.ca

website: https://www.mqup.ca

rights available: World

Additional Information

age range: General

publication date: 10/15/2020

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book