Floods, Drought and Climate Change / Edition 1

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No one in America would deny that the weather has changed drastically in our lifetime. We read about El Niño and La Niña, but how many of us really understand the big picture beyond our own front windows or even the headlines on the Weather Channel? Hydrologists and climatologists have long been aware of the role of regional climate in predicting floods and understanding droughts. But with our growing sense of a variable climate, it is important to reassess these natural disasters not as isolated events but as related phenomena. This book shows that floods and droughts don't happen by accident but are the products of patterns of wind, temperature, and precipitation that produce meteorologic extremes. It introduces the mechanics of global weather, puts these processes into the longer-term framework of climate, and then explores the evolution of climatic patterns through time to show that floods and droughts, once considered isolated "acts of God," are often related events driven by the same forces that shape the entire atmosphere. Michael Collier and Robert Webb offer a fresh, insightful look at what we know about floods, droughts, and climate variability—and their impact on people—in an easy-to-read text, with dramatic photos, that assumes no previous understanding of climate processes. They emphasize natural, long-term mechanisms of climate change, explaining how floods and droughts relate to climate variability over years and decades. They also show the human side of some of the most destructive weather disasters in history. As Collier and Webb ably demonstrate, "climate" may not be the smooth continuum of meteorologic possibilities we supposed but rather the sum of multiple processes operating both regionally and globally on different time scales. Amid the highly politicized discussion of our changing environment, Floods, Droughts, and Climate Change offers a straightforward scientific account of weather crises that can help students and general readers better understand the causes of climate variability and the consequences for their lives.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Need a basic introduction to climate? Collier and Webb, both of the United States Geological Service, survey the subject with estimable economy and clarity. . . . Packed with illustrations and balanced between general and specific information, Collier and Webb's work superbly outlines and makes accessible a subject that is complex even for experts in the field." —Booklist"While some books on climatology sensationalize the destructive aspects of weather, this book presents a balanced and scientific explanation. . . . A fine survey of climatology." —Library Journal"They make the mechanics of global weather and patterns of climate change easy to understand." —Science News"Well-written and well explained . . . I recommend this book for anyone looking for a good overview of global climate and weather patterns." —The Weather Doctor"Basic information on important topics in climate change research—such as El Niño, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation—a well as a relatively unbiased discussion of greenhouse gases. The authors intersperse their summaries of scientific research with personal recollections of associated weather events (for example, the Canadian drought of the 1920s and 1930s and the floods of the 1998 El Niño) and relate the material in a very nonintimidating fashion." —Weatherwise"Intended for a general readership, this book could be used as a beginning textbook in a course on climatology. It is a well-written book by authors who have a good knowledge of weather and what it does to the earth. . . . Anyone who is interested in learning about weather patterns and how they affect his or her world can benefit by reading this book." —Electronic Green Journal"A well-written introduction to the impacts of global climate on hydrologic hazards . . . This volume would make an excellent companion to a scientific textbook that is used in an introductory climate change or environmental studies course."—Professional Geographer
Library Journal
While some books on climatology (such as Bob Reiss's The Coming Storm) sensationalize the destructive aspects of weather, this book presents a balanced and scientific explanation of the environmental effects of climatology. Collier and Webb work for the U.S. Geological Survey and have written numerous books on geology and hydrology. This work shows that floods and droughts don't always signal climate change. Instead, climatology looks at weather over the long term, and individual weather events are part of the natural process of the earth's redistributing the energy it receives from the sun. Moreover, climate change is also a natural phenomenon and not necessarily caused by humans. Though probably intended for a popular audience, this work reads like a freshman college textbook. The exclusive use of metric measurements without English equivalents may also confuse some readers. Still, this is a fine survey of climatology and is recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Lib., Denver Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816522507
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 153
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Collier is a science writer, photographer, and physician who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Among his other books is A Land in Motion: California's San Andreas Fault.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1 Entering the Atmosphere 3
2 Cutting Edges of Climate 7
3 The Weather Machine 20
4 The Geology of Climate 33
5 Winds of Change 43
6 Oceans and Air 53
7 Climate in Hindsight 59
8 The Christ Child 64
9 Teleconnections 70
10 Hurricanes 94
11 The Slow Wheels of Change 101
12 Living in a Web of Climate 106
13 Watching the World Warm 110
14 Making the Connection 118
Notes 121
Glossary 135
Suggested Readings 141
Index 147
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