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Climate and the Oceans Paperback – Oct 30 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (Oct. 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691150281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691150284
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #660,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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,

"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

From the Back Cover

"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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Format: Paperback
Vallis: Climate and the Oceans, 2012, paperback

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The art of translating complex phenomena with simple words May 6 2013
By Dr. M. Rouault - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have learned a lot reading that book and especially I liked the descriptive part of complicated phenomena that are usually represented with complicated maths and physics. Vallis has written a complex and comprehensive books full of equations and now he has translated those equations in words. I am reading that book to be prepared for an interview to a job of Prof of oceanography and it may do the job better than the complex books that are difficult to assimilate. I will buy a dozen for my next Master class if I get the job.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great intro to ocean circulation June 2 2014
By Russ K - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great introduction to the interaction between the climate and oceans. Explains ocean circulation in a manner that a lay person will understand, with the supporting physics. Anyone interested in the impact of global warming on the ocean and climate would benefit from the foundation this book provides.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Primer March 19 2014
By George McLeod - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A GREAT place to start for students or the layman to advance their knowledge of how climate and the ocean interact.
OK as a Reference on the Basics of Ocean Circulation Nov. 22 2015
By WAL - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the plus side, this book provides a clear picture of overall ocean circulation, the role of the heat capacity of the ocean, and the El Nino phenomenon, and is worth having as resource on the basics of these phenomena.

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?
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great intro to a key climate driver April 2 2015
By S. Duval - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The oceans hold 3000 times more heat than the atmosphere. This book provides a lot of basic information about the oceans. The authors seem to adhere to the global warming orthodoxy so it is limited in some respects. still highly recommended.