Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Review

Andrew Dessler challenged Eli to expand his book list to the wood chip pile, but for this we require the help of mice. The baby bunnies have gone through Amazon looking for textbook like objects about atmosphere and climate. Below is what was found. Additions and suggestions are always welcome (Andrew CANNOT vote that his book is the best of all time). Tomorrow we will have a bunch of atmospheric chemistry books, an area where Eli is more familiar and confident. Arbitrarily only those books published after 1/1/2000 were included.

Not very many of these books have Amazon reviews. If you have a copy of one, or have read it, please chime in. At the end there will be a list of recommendations at various levels that will be linked from the sidebar. It would be exceptionally good to have some for middle and high school students. This is just a beginning.

Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast [ILLUSTRATED] (Paperback)
by David Archer (Author) $49.95
· Paperback: 208 pages
· Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Limited; 1st edition (November 1, 2006)
Global Warming : Understanding the Forecast is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of global warming. Written in an accessible way, and assuming no specialist prior knowledge, this important book examines the processes of climate change and climate stability, from the distant past to the distant future.This book examines the greenhouse effect, the carbon cycle, and what the future may hold for global climate. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, it not only summarizes scientific evidence, but also economic and policy issues, related to global warming. A companion website provides access to interactive computer models of the physics and chemistry behind the global warming forecast, which can be used to support suggested student projects included at the end of each chapter. Global Warming : Understanding the Forecast provides an essential introduction to this vital issue for both students and general readers, with or without a science background.

The Physics of Atmospheres (Paperback)
by John Houghton (Author) $46.80
· Paperback: 336 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (December 15, 2001)
In the third edition of The Physics of Atmospheres, John Houghton has revised his acclaimed textbook to bring it completely up-to-date. The book provides a comprehensive concise description of the physical processes governing the structure and the circulation of the atmosphere. New chapters have been introduced on topics of strong contemporary interest such as chaos and predictability and climate change. The chapters on global observations (especially through remote sensing) and numerical modeling have also been substantially extended.

An Introduction to Atmospheric Physics (Paperback)
by David G. Andrews (Author) $60.00
· Paperback: 240 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 31, 2006)
This advanced undergraduate textbook clearly details how physics can be used to understand many important aspects of atmospheric behavior. Coverage presents a broad overview of atmospheric physics, including atmospheric thermodynamics, radiative transfer, atmospheric fluid dynamics and elementary atmospheric chemistry. Armed with an understanding of these topics, the interested student will be able to grasp the essential physics behind issues of current concern, such as the enhanced greenhouse effect and associated questions of climate change, the Antarctic ozone hole and global ozone depletion, as well as more familiar processes such as the formation of raindrops and the development of weather systems. This introductory textbook is ideal for advanced undergraduates studying atmospheric physics as part of physics, meteorology or environmental science courses. It will also be useful for graduate students studying atmospheric physics for the first time and for students of applied mathematics, physical chemistry and engineering who have an interest in the atmosphere.

The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate (Paperback)
by Andrew E. Dessler (Author), Edward A. Parson (Author) $39.99
· Paperback: 200 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 23, 2006)
Climate variability has become the primary environmental concern of the 21st Century. Yet, despite the scientific community's warnings of the imminent dangers of global warming, politicians world-wide have failed to agree on what to do about this potentially devastating environmental problem. This introductory primer informs scientists, policy makers and the general public by clarifying the conflicting claims of the debate.

Complete Idiot's Guide to Global Warming (Paperback)
by Michael Tennesen (Author) $14.78
· Paperback: 352 pages
· Publisher: Alpha (April 6, 2004)
The time is right for this comprehensive guide separating the facts from the fiction about global warming-and how it affects ecological, sociological, and economic environments worldwide.
Features explanations of the meteorological variables of climate change, such as El Nino and the ozone layer
Covers Earth's past warming and cooling cycles, and how human activity has affected this natural pattern
Includes up to date discussions of the Bonn and Kyoto treaties

Science Explorer: Weather and Climate: Interactive textbook (Hardcover)
by Michael J. Padilla (Author) $21.30
· Reading level: Ages 9-12
· Hardcover
· Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall; CD-Rom edition (January 2002)

Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Paperback)
by William James Burroughs (Author) $39.40
· Paperback: 316 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (October 29, 2005)
Level - HS/College educated
This volume provides an up-to-date presentation of climate change and its implications for society. Burroughs, an expert on the subject, begins with balanced coverage of the physical principles of the global climate, its behavior on all timescales, and the evidence for and consequences of past change. He then reviews the methods used to measure climate change and the statistical methods for analyzing data. A comprehensive guide, the volume also explores the causes of change and how this behavior can be modeled. The final sections discuss predictions of future climate change and the economic and political debate surrounding its prevention and mitigation. This is a valuable undergraduate textbook for a wide range of courses, including meteorology, oceanography, environmental science, earth science, geography, history, agriculture and social science. It will also appeal to a wider general audience of readers in search of a better understanding of climate change.

Climate: Into the 21st Century (Hardcover)
by William Burroughs (Editor) $55.00
· Hardcover: 240 pages
· Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 25, 2003)
Toward the end of the twentieth century, it became evident to professionals working within the meterological arena that the world's climate system was showing signs of change that could not be adequately explained in terms of natural variation. Since that time there has been an increasing recognition that the climate system is changing as a result of human industries and lifestyles, and that the outcomes may prove catastrophic to the world's escalating population. Compiled by an international team formed under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Climate: Into the 21st Century features an unrivalled collection of essays by the world's leading meteorological experts. These fully integrated contributions provide a perspective of the global climate system across the twentieth century, and describe some of the most arresting and extreme climatic events and their effects that have occurred during that time. In addition, the book traces the development of our capabilities to observe and monitor the climate system, and outlines our understanding of the predictability of climate on time-scales of months and longer. It concludes with a summary of the prospects for applying the twentieth century climate experience in order to benefit society in the twenty-first century. Lavishly illustrated in color, Climate is an accessible acccount of the challenges that climate poses at the start of the twenty-first century. Filled with fascinating facts and diagrams, it is written for a wide audience and will captivate the general reader interested in climate issues, and will be a valuable teaching resource. William Burroughs is a successful science author of books on climate, including Weather (Time Life, 2000), and Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2001), Does the Weather Really Matter? (1997) and The Climate Revealed (1999), all published by Cambridge University Press.

A Textbook in Environmental Science (Hardcover)
by V. Subramanian (Author)
· Hardcover: 238 pages
· Publisher: Other (May 22, 2002)
Covering all aspects of interaction between man and the environment, A Textbook in Environmental Science addresses issues related to air, water, and soil pollution and their cyclical nature. It introduces students to the concept of biodiversity in relation to the dangers posed to the diversity of flora and fauna. Global warming and climate change are outlined in sufficient detail. Environmental impact assessment is discussed using coal based thermal power plant as a case in point with a brief outline on environmental audit.

The Discovery of Global Warming (New Histories of Science, Technology, and Medicine) (Paperback) by Spencer R. Weart $10.54
· Paperback: 240 pages
· Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (September 30, 2004)


Andrew Dessler said...

How come you didn't list Singer and Avery's "Unstoppable global warming: every 1,500 years"?

EliRabett said...

At Rabett Farms we keep those useful type books in the little room with the half moon on it.

Seriously, what's your opinion of any of these books?

Anonymous said...

Where's Pielke's book,

The "Hornets' Broker"

Anonymous said...

Houghton has another book - Global Warming - the complete briefing which is a survey of global warming science and implications intended for a general audience. It is more of a serious textbook style than 'pop' science - but unlike Physics of Atmospheres it doesn't assume a lot of prior knowledge. A great in-depth book for adults and high school kids who want to know more about global warming. It will probably appeal most to those with a bit of a science bent.

Houghton's Physics of Atmospheres mentioned above is a much more technical text (NB I only have the older 2nd edition). It is also very concise, getting right down to the brass tacks of maths and equations without a great deal of wordy explanation. It assumes a fair bit of knowledge of undergrad level physics & maths (thermodynamics, radiative physics, partial derivatives, differential eqns etc). The chapters are short but dense with a large number of problems at the back of each and with answers and hints in the back of the book. Thrashing through the problems after reading the chapters is the way to get most out of it. Would recommend to those with a physics or similar background. Not suited to high school kids or the non-scientist.

Hank Roberts said...

Stumbled on a link to this one, don't know anything about it. Good source (Nat'l Academies Press); you can purchase individual chapters online:

Climate Crash:
Abrupt Climate Change and What It Means for Our Future

Spencer Weart gave it a good blurb, on that web page.

-- Hank Roberts

Anonymous said...

I have a seventies (1977) vintage chemistry text "Chemistry: The Central Science" by Theodore Brown and Eugene LeMay, which I looked at the other day (after a 30 year hiatus from chemistry, thankfully). The chapter (10) on "Chemistry of the Atmosphere" including a section "Water vapor, Carbon dioxide and climate" is quite accurate. In fact, 2.3C is given as the average surface temperature increase for a doubling of the CO2 level which is not far off from the currently accepted value.

They finish the section with a statement that could just as easily have been part of the latest IPCC report: "Because so many factors go into determining climate, it is not possible to predict with certainty precisely what changes will occur. It is clear, however, that humanity has acquired the potential, by changing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, for substantially altering the climate of the planet. Unfortunately, if it should turn out for the worst, as seems altogether likely, there is little or nothing that we can presently visualize that could be done about it. The continued high rate of combustion of fossil fuels is therefore a matter for long-range concern".

But they said that in 1977!

It seems that some have suspected for a very long time what others are just now rediscovering. Same as it ever was.

It is sobering to ponder how things might have played out differently if scientists like Brown and LeMay had been taken more seriously back when the CO2 level stood at about 320ppm.

EliRabett said...

We probably will adopt Brown and LeMay (still going strong) for our GChem class next year. One of my reasons is the hash that our current book makes of environmental issues. YMMV

Anonymous said...

Some things just get better with age.

I used that book (Brown and LeMay) for my basic chem sequence at Cornell University back in the late seventies -- taught by Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffman.

If it's good enough for Hoffman (and Eli!), it's certainly good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of books, here's an interesting one, the "The Honest Borker"

I understand that's RP, Jr on the right, but who's the one with the veil (or is it Vail?) to his right?