on June 18, 2003
The book Weather: How it works and Why it Matters by Arthur Upgren and Jurgen Stock is an interesting and rather diverse text on weather. It covers not only the basics, like humidity, dew point, wind chill and temperature, but also the physics of weather, the lore of weather, and weather on other planets. It examines ice ages and their causes and looks at the effects of extraterrestrial impacts, like the ancient Chicxulub astroid that destroyed the dinosaurs and the modern day Tunguska comet impact in Siberia in 1908.
Although I'd no doubt that the authors were very competent in science (Arthur Upgren is Professor of Astronomy at Wesleyan University and Senior Research Scientist at Yale University and his coauthor Jurgen Stock is an astronomer on the faculty of Hamburg and Case Western Reserve Universities), I wasn't quite sure that either was necessarily qualified as a meteorologist. Actually I found it interesting that two such well trained astronomers would even be interested in writing a book about weather and climate. It was with the final chapters (15-18) of the book that their purpose in doing so became apparent.
The problem of global warming and world wide environmental destruction is an issue with which many scientists, regardless of their pedigree, have become more and more involved. Well known and influential authors such as E.O. Wilson and Richard Leaky have added their voices to a growing chorus of well trained individuals attempting to call our attention and that of our governments to the dangers of continued abuse of nature and the planet. In this instance, it isn't so much the "how it works" part of the title that is the actual point of the book, but the "why it matters" portion that is overwhelmingly so.
The bibliography is well rounded and well worth spending a little time rounding up the entries. It includes titles that cover, in even greater detail, many of the concepts introduced by the present authors. Included are Aherns' Essentials of Meteorology, Alvarez's T. Rex and the Crater of Doom, Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, Imbrie and Imbrie's Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery, Leaky and Lewin's The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Mankind, Stommel and Stommel's Volcano Weather: The Story of the Year without a Summer, 1816, among others. Some of these I have already read and enjoyed, others I will definitely look to include in my reading list.
Although one might find a better and more detailed discussion of the actual complexities of weather and climate, this book covers a broad spectrum of issues having to do with it and brings to the fore the impact that our individual decisions have on our world.
on May 29, 2003
First, I would like to comment on the overall tone of this book that discusses one of those topics that often would invoke some form of repulsion by the average layman - Junger has done a marvelous job at engaging the reader through an otherwise lengthy and descriptive piece of literature.
The author leads the reader through the weather journey from his honest personal experiences to the history of Earth's atmospheric evolution, all but topped with curious facts about other planets and the Universe. I really enjoyed the systematic approach he applies in the discussion of Global Warming, the delicate inter relationship that marries the climate and human activities and preventive measures.
However, one huge drawback of this book that now seems to beg you to buy it is the lack of detailed Geographical analyses of mechanisms of the weather machine and their causes. The author tends to gloss over the details (which may be a good thing for some) but offers many examples to support his statements.
What I find particularly refreshing is the section on weather lore. To cite one example, the old saying that when dew appears rain will not come, actually arises from the lack of cloud cover. Comprehensive and light hearted talk about the weather. Thumbs up.
I bought this book after a discussion I had with my youngest daughter, in which I realized i didn't understand how and why storms formed. This book provides a very interesting overview of weather formation, and then extends to discuss global warming and the weather science behind that. You will learn about the various levels of the atmosphere, their chemical composition, various interactions between pollutants and greenhouse gases and the weather, why weather prediction and global warming analysis is so complex and so critical (as well as why, contrary to some myths, global warming is disproved by crazy snows and harsher winters -- instead this is direct and scary evidence of global warming). The book is very approachable, easy to read, and quite interesting. There are a few parts that could have used more illustrations (for example on why the winds are predominately westerly), but overall it was quite fun to read.
I read the Kindle version, which isn't bad, except that a variety of illustrations appear to be missing. I have a feeling the print book would be a bit better in this respect.
Interesting stuff and I'm glad i read it.
on August 8, 2013
Granted, I bought this as new and received a badly abused (lots of writing in ink!) and used copy. That might have turned me off.
But as I read through, I found this book "sketchy" and somewhat disorganized. Can't say I would recommend it. The book feels amateurish.
Instead look at Introducing Meteorology: A Guide to Weather Much better book.
The literature needs a good book on this subject. Something is needed that gets into some depth beyond how clouds form but doesn't go too wild with the mathematical laws of gases.