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An Introduction to Three-dimensional Climate Modelling (University science Books)

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198557180
ISBN-10: 0198557183
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Editorial Reviews


"will serve well as a text for graduate students, and a valuable reference for climate specialists." ---John E. Kutzbach, University of Wisconsin --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Warren Washington has been a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) since 1963 and is head of the Climate Change Research Section in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division at NCAR. He is the Chair of the Presidential appointed National Science Board and he is an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric science and climate research, who serves on the Secretary of Energy’s Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC). He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academies of Science Coordinating Committee on Global Change, and distinguished alumni of Oregon State and Pennsylvania State Universities. He is a fellow of American Meteorology Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1994, Dr. Washington served as President of American Meteorological Society. Claire L. Parkinson has been a climatologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center since 1978, with a research emphasis on polar sea ice and climate change. She is also Project Scientist for the Aqua satellite mission, aimed at improved understanding of the coupled atmosphere/ocean/land/ice system, has done field work in both polar regions, and has written books on satellite Earth observations and the history of science. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University and has served on committees for NASA, NOAA, and the National Academy of Sciences. She is a Fellow of both the American Meteorological Society and Phi Beta Kappa and received a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2003 and the Goldthwait Polar Medal from Ohio State's Byrd Polar Research Center in 2004. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: University science Books
  • Hardcover: 436 pages
  • Publisher: University Science Books,U.S. (November 6, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198557183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198557180
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jared B. on March 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
While this isn't a complete introduction, and while it may inevitably be slightly out of date, this is nonetheless the best introduction to climate modeling I've found. It presents the primary methods, and discusses the accomplishments and shortcomings of the field honestly (if at times a bit defensively).

There are clear limitations to climate modeling. For anyone with training in more mainstream Artificial Intelligence techniques, it's very uncomfortable to "test on the training data," which is exactly what climate modelers must do (i.e., they must run their models on the recent past, and if their models don't perform well on it, they will be tweaked until they do--effectively "cheating" because fidelity to the recent past is obviously no indication of predictive power if you tweak the model specifically to work on the recent past). Much of the uncertainty comes from sub-grid interactions that must be parameterized. For example, the formation of clouds is still an area of great uncertainty, and yet has an enormous effect on the climate. The authors recognize this issue, and identify it as a field where future research should focus.

On the other hand, climate modeling has been extremely useful as an inspiration to the imagination, and in working out the logical implications of what we currently believe to be true (both through those things that can be tested in a lab, like the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide, or those that need to be parameterized, like cloud formation). We can't predict the future, but models allow us to get a sense of what may happen.

The authors discuss all of this, and illustrate it throughout.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donald R. Stark on February 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a clear and well written introductory survey of climate modeling by masters in the field. While it is by no means a complete survey of the field, the book has been quite useful in our research group to get non-geoscientists ( mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists ) up to speed on the topic of climate modeling. It serve as a good reference for students interested in climate modeling.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a superficial bibliography of existing equations in theoretical planetary fluid dynamics. Perhaps that is what the authors mean by an introduction. As such, the book is useful for understanding some of the concepts that contribute to planetary climate.

There are some problems. The first problem is that climate is not three dimensional. (It is bizarre to discuss climate without the preeminence of the temporal dimension.) Of course the authors are aware of the importance of time. However, there are bizarre omissions in the presentation of the theoretical work with relation to the underlying physical reasons for climate change. Superficial dynamics equations give you no insight into the actual history of Earth's climate any more than they yield the actual state of an ocean wave breaking upon a shore at any specific moment in time. All you get is a general abstraction.

There are good reasons for this omission. The physical understanding of the history of Earth's climate is still locked in controversy due to the scarcity of good verifiable data. That means the physical understanding of Earth's climate is still evolving.

Secondly, the book fails as an introduction into climate modeling. The transition from theoretical continuous simplifications to actual discrete model is simply not adequately covered. The background theory on discretization of continuous differential equations does not bridge the gap necessary to understand climate models.

Again there are good reasons for this omission. I believe neither author has actually written a climate model. Thus they do not discuss the fundamentals of climate models. Instead they discuss differential equations.
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