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Climate and the Oceans Paperback – Oct 30 2011
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"This easy-to-read illustrated book, filled with both data and accessible mathematical equations demonstrating the impact of the oceans on the Earth's climate, offers practitioners and stakeholders' state-of-the-art scientific analysis of how the oceans and climate interact that is both user friendly to the non-expert yet scientifically rigorous enough as bridge material for graduate students as they grapple with the compelling field of climate science and oceanography. . . . These books at Princeton Primers in Climate are a superb resource to find meticulous, detailed, and clearly presented facts on climate change science."--Gabriel Thoumi, MongaBay.com
"This is an excellent primer on the physical processes that control interactions within and between the atmosphere and ocean. . . . It is a quick read that would be appropriate for scientists looking for information on the salient points of ocean-atmosphere interactions and climate. It would also serve as a useful complementary resource for an introductory-level course in oceanography."--Choice
"I absolutely recommend this book. Those expecting a primer on oceans and climate will be rewarded with much more than a book that teaches the basics of a subject. I have taught about the ocean for more than 20 years and I still found plenty of insights in this text that will enhance my own teaching of undergraduate and graduate students."--Susan Lozier, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
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"In this crystal-clear little book, Geoffrey Vallis masterfully explains the basics of physical oceanography and the role of the oceans in the climate system. He writes for those conversant with some university-level mathematics and physics, but whose knowledge of the oceans and climate is limited. The book moves smoothly from fundamental principles to topics of current research interest, including natural climate variability, such as El Niño, and the daunting challenge of man-made climate change, or global warming."--Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
"Readers interested in understanding how the ocean influences climate have had to choose between journalistic, grossly oversimplified accounts and the very technical professional literature. Geoffrey Vallis has now successfully filled that gap with a clear explanation of the ways in which the ocean is both influenced by and influences global climate."--Carl Wunsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Climate and the Oceans is an accessible, effectively organized, and very well-written introduction to the subject."--Peter R. Gent, National Center for Atmospheric Research
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The aim of this book is to provide an overall understanding of the atmosphere and the oceans, and how they interact. The big picture, without the less important details. This is all a wonderful idea.
Vallis only partly succeeds. The first two chapters are wonderfully clear, as is the description of a centrifugal force ( which is not a real force). He falls down when trying to provide an understanding of the Coriolis force ( also not a real force). The rest of the book is a mixture of great clarity and a lack of clarity. Much more use should have been made of diagrams to make things clear.
There is sloppiness, particularly in chapter 2. On p.51, what is meant by a "component of rotation"?, and then "angle is equal to Omega" but Omega is an angular velocity so can not be an angle. On p.53 he has "more random" which is an impossibility. Then he has "typical speeds of 450-500 m/s whereas the range of speeds is very much wider than this, and depends on the mass of the molecule. On p.57 he states he is going to ignore the atmospheric pressure, then promptly puts it into his formula. On p.68 "along a radius" should be along a tangent; this is a particularly serious error as the reader has no chance of understanding the Coriolis force without first realizing the error.
The book is intended for those who don't want the mathematics, though some maths is provided for those who want it. I doubt that anyone can really understand the forces and consequences unless they understand Newton's Laws.
At the end the author is refreshingly honest about making clear what is not well understood and thus the uncertainties, and provides references when there is controversy, such as that over the Mann hockey stick.
I learnt a lot from this book, I just wish I could have rated it more highly.
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On the negative side, the treatment of the physics of the Coriolis force is not thorough or detailed enough to be completely clear, although its general effect is covered. More importantly, the section on global warming is based on modeling results, but the uncertainties in this approach are not acknowledged. I have learned through experience with modeling physical systems that outcomes are critically dependent on the boundary (or starting) conditions and the simplifications made in constructing the model. If El Nino events can’t be predicatively modeled, what level of confidence should be placed in the long term climate models?
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