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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d98nov19

Tropical Climatology, 2nd ed., G. R. McGregor and Simon Nieuwolt, 339 pp., 1998, $39.95 pbk (John Wiley).

This semitechnical book covers a broad range of topics in the atmospheric sciences as they relate to the low latitudes. It starts with basic definitions of terms, reviews the physical laws of meteorology, surveys how radiative input affects climates in the low latitudes, describes the spatial and temporal distributions of temperature and precipitation in the tropics, explains the general circulation there along with the nonseasonal and seasonal variations in that circulation, details the mechanics of tropical disturbances, surveys the climates of the tropics region by region, and relates water availability (by form) and agricultural success to climate. It ends with a chapter on climate change, its mechanistic causes, its human influences, and methods for its assessment. The writing is clear and explicative; the drawings are neat and informative; but the photographs leave much to be desired. Overall, the book is a logically organized and relatively broad treatise on the topic. The authors and publishers intended it as a textbook for undergraduates in geography and environmental sciences. It also serves well as a basic reference text for global-change practitioners whose specialties lie outside the atmospheric sciences.

Item #d98nov20

Views from the Alps: Regional Perspectives on Climate Change, Peter Cebon et al., Eds., 515 pp., 1998, $60 hbk (MIT Press).

Although the atmosphere knows no boundaries and the alteration of its composition is a global phenomenon with global effects, the physical, ecological, and socioeconomic impacts and responses produced by global climate change will (and do) exhibit strong regional variations. With this tenet in mind, this collection of investigations explores the implications and manifestations of climate change in the alpine region of Europe. Why the Alps? Because of the strong tradition of (and funding for) interdisciplinary research that ties together climatology, ecology, and sociology; the availability of long climate records gathered over a wide range of altitudes; the presence of a rich paleorecord of weather; the dynamic history of human habitation, transportation, governance, and technological development; and the easy observation of ecosystem movement and habitat dislocation along the vertical axis. The major chapters characterize the current alpine climate and describe the processes that affect it; review the past climate of the region as evidenced by the paleorecords (tree rings, glacial stratigraphy, ice cores, etc.) and assess these records as signposts for the future; assess methods (models, empirical analogs, and combined methods) for projecting and predicting future climate; review the known interactions between climate and vegetation and measure the responses of alpine ecosystems to climate variations; present models of alpine-vegetation responses to expected climate changes; present observations on the realpolitik of policy formation; survey the economic debate surrounding climate policy; and describe technological development and adoption as “processes of social learning,” studying adaptive innovation with technical solutions to the two climate-related problems of transalpine transport and personal mobility under severe conditions. The book is well written and edited, it sticks to the science involved without digressions into the murky uncertainties of policy setting, and it is embellished with extensive and helpful glossaries at the end of each chapter. Its most useful characteristic, however, is its insistence on the recognition that global climate change is not uniform but made up of a pastiche of regional changes.

Item #d98nov21

Ecological Geography of the Sea, Alan Longhurst, 398 pp., 1998, $79.95 hbk (Academic).

In this book, Longhurst uses the physical and satellite data that have been collected in recent years to divide the oceans into four major biomes (polar, westerlies, trades, and coastal) and to further divide these into 51 provinces based on such properties as temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll abundance. The bulk of the book is taken up in describing these provinces with graphs and narrative discussion. Although there is no explicit delineation of the boundaries of these biomes or provinces (they can change with climatic conditions), these discussions do form a good starting point for considering the ecological reactions to changes in the ocean’s properties and processes. Further, these provinces may provide baselines for assessing such changes and for validation of models. It is reviewed by J. H. Steele in Eos 79 (50), 616 (1998), and he concluded that “the text is well structured and the ideas are clearly expressed. [It] is an important and useful addition to general oceanographic studies and a timely contribution to ongoing research at the regional to global scales.”

Additional Reviews of Previous Entries

Item #d98nov22

Amazonian Deforestation and Climate, J. H. C. Gash, C. A. Nobre et al., Eds., 430 pp., 1996, $102 (Wiley). (Global Climate Change Digest, Nov. 1997)

Reviewed by Pru Foster and Chris Still in Climate Change 38, 381-386 (1998), who summarized their review by saying the book is “an impressive summary of the research conducted within ABRACOS [the Anglo-Brazilian Amazonian Climate Observation Study]; it will be a valuable resource for those interested in the fate of the world’s largest forest and its role in the global cycles of water, energy, and carbon.”

Item #d98nov23

Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Can’t Afford to Lose, S. H. Schneider, 174 pp., Jan. 1997, $20/£11.99 (Basic Books in the U.S.; Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the U.K.). (Global Climate Change Digest, Feb. 1997)

Described by Robert Dickinson in Eos 79, 87 (Apr. 14, 1998).

Item #d98nov24

Gaia’s Body — Toward a Physiology of Earth, T. Volk, 300 p., 1997, $27 (Springer). (Global Climate Change Digest, Nov. 1997)

Reviewed by Peter Westbrook in Nature 391, 550-551(Feb. 5, 1998), who said, “The book is very well written and easy for a broadly educated audience to follow ... the details are knitted together so well that I read it as an exciting novel.”

Item #d98nov25

Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Development, L. D. Desimone, F. Popoff, 292 pp., Oct. 1997, $25 (MIT). (Global Climate Change Digest, Jan. 1998)

Reviewed by J. R. Hirl in C&E News 76 (25) 50-51 (Apr. 13, 1998), who says that this book “should be taken as a challenge to our current ways of thinking. The concepts it puts forward can be used to identify worthwhile projects we might otherwise miss and help us to aim higher than we otherwise might. ... It should be praised as a practical introduction to the relatively intractable, diffuse topic of sustainability.”

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