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Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate Hardcover – Jan 16 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 718 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (Jan. 16 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521767180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521767187
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 4 x 25.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #740,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"The first edition is a classic. As a textbook it is unequalled in breadth, depth and lucidity. It is the single volume that I recommend to every one of my students in atmospheric science. The new edition improves over the previous edition, if that is possible at all, in three aspects: beautiful illustrations of global processes ... from newly available satellite data, new topics of current interest ... and a new chapter on the influence of the ocean on the atmosphere. These changes make the book more useful as a starting point for studying climate change." - Professor Yuk Yung, California Institute of Technology

" ... an informative and insightful tour through the contemporary issues in the atmospheric sciences as they relate to climate. ... a valuable resource for educators and researchers alike, serving both as a textbook for the graduate or advanced undergraduate student with a physics or mathematics background and as an excellent reference and refresher for practitioners. ... a welcome addition to the field." - Professor Darin W. Toohey, University of Colorado at Boulder

" ... an essential reference for researchers and graduate and advanced undergraduate students who wish to have a rigorous source for a wide range of fundamental atmospheric science topics. Atmospheric and climate scientists will find this book to be an essential one for their libraries." - Associate Professor Hampton N. Shirer, Pennsylvania State University

"I recommend it as a foundation for anyone who wants to do research on the important open questions about aerosols, radiation, biogeochemisty, and ocean-atmosphere coupling." - Professor Jim McWilliams, University of California, Los Angeles

Book Description

Murry Salby's new book provides an integrated treatment of the processes controlling the Earth-atmosphere system, developed from first principles through a balance of theory and applications. This is an ideal intermediate-level undergraduate textbook and reference text for graduates and researchers, supported by student problems, with detailed solutions provided online for course instructors.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9f58bc78) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f417840) out of 5 stars Excellent introductory reference June 1 2014
By kikeo58 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read the variety of reviews before purchasing this book. In the end I chose it because the reviews were mixed. That is representative of the field itself. The book presents a lot of information that is necessary to understand the atmosphere.
Some information is simple and abstract and has poor relevance to the actual atmosphere. And some is very complex which conveys the real nature of the atmosphere. The book progresses from the simple erroneous concepts to the more complex and more accurate concepts. Thus you will find it contradicts itself. Let me emphasize this is the standard pedagogical progression not a criticism of this particular book. You need both (or actually all) to relate to the the spectrum of ideas presented in scientific and public literature. That means you must read through the whole book and not stop in the simplified material.

In particular, it is important to recognize the overly simplified differential equations that are reflected in international standards on the atmosphere. They are the source of irrational misinformation where the defining assumptions are neglected. Not only are they of low accuracy but they lead to incorrect understanding.

One visible area is the global mean temperature which is quoted so often in the hockey stick model of the climate.
This book presents a more in depth presentation of the localized nature of observed global mean temperature. That oxymoron gives caution to the simplified understanding of climate. That in turn is the area of most disagreement in this field
and the source of many negative reviews of this book.

Hopefully, you will realize that this neither confirms or denies climate change. It provides more information to better understand it.
That is a valuable resource for any library.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f6df300) out of 5 stars The bible of atmospheric physics April 2 2014
By Morgan Wright - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the bible for all that is currently known about the atmosphere. The math is a little over my head unless I study it carefully, but the way the information is organized, you can see the author has had a lot of experience in teaching, so reading this book is like taking a course in a classroom. If I want to know something about the atmosphere, this book is my first source, not any of the politically charged blogs on the internet, most of which are government funded propaganda sites like Skeptical Science and Real Climate. If you want to know the actual truth, get a text book. The graphs are brilliant and the color plates should be framed and hung on your wall. Textbooks like this cost a lot more, but you get what you pay for.
50 of 73 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f32c7f8) out of 5 stars Gets 1 for ~20 pages of anti-science nonsense, rest of the book likely would be a 4. Dec 18 2013
By John R Mashey - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am sad to say that I think this book will diminish the reputation of Cambridge University Press.
Long-debunked wrong ideas from climate anti-science sources do not belong in textbooks.
As of this writing, Dr Salby has yet to publish any papers on these ideas, just 3 videos of talks to non-climate audiences, sponsored by The Sydney Institute and European EIKE. Dr. Salby started this odd campaign July 5, 2011. He had submitted a paper "Rebound of Antarctic Ozone" for a stratospheric session, got an oral timeslot at a conference, and with no notice talked about his ideas that CO2 rise was a side-effect of temperature rise, i.e., totally unconnected with the session topic.

1)The Preface shows that Dr. Salby seems to have a low opinion of many other areas of climate science:
'`Historically, students of the atmosphere and climate have had proficiency in one of the physical disciplines that underpin the topic, but not in the others. Under the fashionable umbrella of climate science, many today do not have proficiency in even one. What is today labeled climate science includes everything from archaeology of the Earth to superficial statistics and a spate of social issues. Yet, many who embrace the label have little more than a veneer of insight into the physical processes that actually control the Earth-atmosphere system, let alone what is necessary to simulate its evolution reliably.' He is of course entitled to his opinions, but I am surprised that CUP did not push back on that.

2) This book has 3 kinds of discussions:
a) Most of the sections seem very close to the equivalent sections of his well-regarded 1996 textbook, and they seem like reasonable discussions of atmospheric physics.
b) Some new sections seem straightforward expositions of research work since 1996
c) About 20 pages is a mishmash of common dismissive memes about areas totally outside Salby's atmospheric physics focus, i.e., carbon cycle, ice-cores, paleoclimate, areas in which he has not really published peer-reviewed papers.

I got a Kindle version, and compared the TOC with that of the 1996 edition.
a) Most section names were identical, plus a few where names changed slightly with the same structure. Sections seemed to be have been trimmed slightly.
b) New sections with reasonable material were: 1.2.4, 8.7.2, 8.7.3, 15.4, 15.5, 17 (except 17.3), 18.3.3, 18.8.
c) Sections 1.6, 8.7.1, 17.3, were problematic, as well as some parts of 1.2.4, 8.7.3, and 17.3.
To explain the problems, SkS#n refers to Argument n at the website found via Google: Skeptical Science fixednum
A quick skim found SkS# 5, 6, 7, 11, 20, 26, 29, 38, 58, 90, 107, 188, 189.

3) The following shows a few examples, although oddities abound in which Dr. Salby displays little expertise on topics on which he seems to create doubt via vague, dismissive language. People should of course read the relevant sections to see the entire contexts, much too long to display here.

`1.2.4 Trace constituents ...
'Close inspection of the records in Fig. 1.12a also indicates a small but repeated separation between contemporaneous features, with CO2 lagging temperature by 500-1000 years. The implied relationship of CO2 to temperature is manifest even on much shorter time scales ( Sec. 1.6.2 ).'

SkS#11 "CO2 lags temperature."
Years before the ice-core records were available, the ice-age temperature-CO2 lag was predicted in Lorius, et al(1990) in Nature, cited 321 times according to Google Scholar. Salby either ignored or did not know this famous paper in one of the most visible journals, although he did cite Lorius, et al (1985).

'The veracity of proxy records like those in Fig. 1.12 is clouded by uncertainties (ibid). Notable is the long-term stability of gases that are trapped inside ice, along with their diffusion between layers. Those uncertainties limit temporal resolution, which hampers the discrimination to individual periods. They also act to homogenize properties, limiting excursions in older portions of the record.'

Dr. Salby;s ice-core claims were strongly refuted by (well-published ice-core expert) Eric Wolff when he heard him speak at Cambridge April 22 2013. Paleoclimate researchers work very hard to understand and bound the uncertainties. If a student read and believed this, they would think there was no value in the ice-core data.

'The upward trend of CO2 is commonly ascribed to emission by human activities. Support for this interpretation comes from isotopes of carbon. Carbon 13, like carbon 12, is stable ...
The decrease of δ13C, together with the increase of , reflects the addition of CO2 that is 13C lean. This feature is consistent with the combustion of fossil fuel, as well as biomass destruction. It is equally consistent, however, with the decomposition of organic matter derived from vegetation. Thus, associating the decrease of δ13C to the combustion of fossil fuel requires the exclusion of other sources that are 13C lean. In particular, it relies on CO2 emission from the ocean, which overshadows other sources of CO2 '

SkS#188 "Murry Salby finds CO2 rise is natural"
SkS#189 "CO2 increase is natural, not human-caused"

`1.6.1 The instrumental record ...
'Nonetheless, even collectively, the ground-based network suffers from the same nonuniform sampling that limits the rawinsonde network. Because it is discriminated to continental regions, such sampling can introduce a systematic error or bias into the record of global-mean temperature. Changes over continental regions are inadvertently magnified relative to changes over maritime regions, which are left unaccounted for. ...'

SkS#6 "Temp record is unreliable"

'In addition, many stations in the ground network are, for historical reasons, situated near population centers ( Fig. 1.37 ). Over the course of the instrumental record, those centers expanded through urban development. With their expansion was an amplification of the urban heat island effect, wherein urban centers are distinctly warmer than their surroundings. '

SkS#20 "It's Urban Heat Island effect."
UHI is real, but temperature analyses have long used appropriate techniques to remove the effect.

Fig 1.38(c) used Figure 15 from Robinson, A, Baliunas, S, Soon, W, and Z Robinson, 1998: Environmental effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Med Sent, 3, 171-178. This was led by a non-climate-scientist who has never published a climate paper in any credible peer-reviewed journal. The paper was published in a non-indexed journal of a group organized to "fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine."
Real scientists did rebuttals long ago of this infamously-poor effort.

Figure 1.39 cites Spencer and Christy (UAH) satellite record in preference to the RSS record, fo which he says:
"t is very similar, albeit with a decadal trend closer to that of the surface record. However, that retrieval omits data from Antarctica, which, during the same interval, exhibits a cooling trend. ..."

SkS#38 "Satellites show no warming in the troposphere"
The records clearly specify 80ºS to 80ºN, and Salby highlights Antarctica, without mentioning the rapid rise in the Arctic.

'After declining for about 2 years, global temperature rebounded, increasing for about a decade. Global-mean temperature then leveled off around 2002, followed by several years of general decline. ...
That warming continued until the close of the twentieth century, after which GMT plateaued, declining slightly. '

SkS#7 "It hasn't warmed since 1998" .

'1.6.2 Proxy records
(long section trying to prove that increasing temperature is the cause of the post-Industrial Revolution CO2 rise.)

'`Dating of tree rings, dendrochronology, also figures prominently in reconstructions of previous climate. ... It then diverges from the instrumental record - about the time that direct measurements of temperature became widespread . Why is not understood'

SkS#107 "Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960"
Direct measurements of temperature were widespread long before 1960.

'After about the year 600 , temperature warmed steadily, maximizing during the so-called Medieval Warm Period that prevailed during 1000- 1300 (Lamb, 1965). The period is well documented in anecdotal evidence from the North Atlantic and Europe, in Norse explorations that were unhindered by ice, in the Viking colonization of Greenland, and in the northward advance of agriculture that enabled a wine industry to flourish in England (see , e.g., Lamb, 1982)'

Other than for historical background, citing Lamb(1965) or Lamb(1982) in his 2012 textbook is at best seriously incompetent.
SkS#26 "Greenland was green"
England's vineyards are already in North Yorkshire, further North than they were during Roman or Medieval Warm Periods
The MWP and LIA appear every reconstruction used by the IPCC, and they certainly occurred in the North Atlantic region. They just do not show the huge MWP of Lamb(1965), to which some cling.

'The reconstruction in Fig. 1.45 implies that temperature then was about 0.5 K warmer than previously. Other reconstructions place temperature then 1.0-2.0 K warmer ( Lamb, 1965; Keigwin, 1996; Huang and Pollack, 1997; Loehle, 2007 ).
That would make the Medieval Warm Period as warm or warmer than temperature during the late twentieth century.'

Lamb(1965) had a temperature sketch for England, obsolete decades ago.
Keigwin was badly abused by Robinson, et al(1998), who mangled the graph and did not seem to know that BP was relative to1950, not ~2000.
Huang and Pollack(1997) was misused by many, and by 1998 they had disavowed use of their borehole work for longer than 500 years, so said nothing about the MWP. They amplified that in 2008.

'8.7.1 Feedback in the climate system ...
Temperature - CO2 feedback'
Salby does much math to claim that temperature controls CO2 at all time-scales, beyond the well-known feedbacks.
SkS#188 "Murry Salby finds CO2 rise is natural"
SkS#189 "CO2 increase is natural, not human-caused"

'8.7.3 Simulation of climate ...
The large heat capacity of the ocean, supported by transfers of latent heat, make climate simulations inherently sensitive to the ocean simulation ( Sec. 17.2 ) Yet, limited observations of the deep-ocean circulation leave those simulations largely unvalidated.'

Observations are indeed limited, but have been improving rapidly with Argo, at least down to 2000 meters.

'. As climate projections rest on those internal feedbacks , which are poorly understood, the accuracy with which GCMs reproduce observed changes is pivotal... Together with the ocean simulation, these limitations introduce errors, which can be substantial. Along with discrepancies between GCMs, they leave in question how faithfully climate feedbacks are represented (see, e.g., Tsushima and Manabe, 2001; Lindzen and Choi, 2009).'

SkS#5 "Models are unreliable"
Lindzen and Choi (2009) was strongly refuted in early 2010, and more followed.

SkS#90 "Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity"
This was totally debunked by 2011, but Salby missed or ignored that. Lindzen even admitted that the' 2009 paper contained "some stupid mistakes"'

Equally significant are transfers of carbon into and out of the ocean. Of order 100 GtC/ yr, they exceed those into and out of land. Together, emission from ocean and land sources (∼ 150 GtC/ yr) is two orders of magnitude greater than CO2 emission from combustion of fossil fuel. These natural sources are offset by natural sinks, of comparable strength. However, because they are so much stronger, even a minor imbalance between natural sources and sinks can overshadow the anthropogenic component of CO2 emission (cf Secs 1.6.2 , 8.7.1 ).'

Most of this section seems normal science, but Salby again plays on the theme of CO2 exchanges with ocean dominating fossil fuel emissions.

SkS#29 "Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions"
SkS#58 "It's the ocean"

Salby's strange ideas on topics outside his expertise have been refuted by experts who have talked to him: Colin Prentice (Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC TAR Section 2:`Carbon Cycle and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide' ), Eric Wolff on ice-cores, John Nielson-Gammon in general for cherry-picking paleoclimate data and proposing a model that would require negative atmospheric CO2 during ice ages.

In some sense, this is too bad, as Dr. Salby's 1996 text was well-cited and well-regarded by many people and I'd guess that most of the book is sound atmospheric physics, well within his expertise.
HASH(0x9f3121d4) out of 5 stars Comprehensive but Hard to Read July 3 2016
By Scott Brooks - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find this book kind of a disappointment.

1 the format of the book makes it hard to read. It’s bad enough that it has the classic black on white printing (human eyes would find dark red on a light tan easier to read and less straining) but it’s also in small print. It would have been better to have this book in pdf format. My eyes would continuously water when trying to read it.

2 Salby talks in very scientific terms and uses heavy math throughout the book. It’s good for seasoned scientists but difficult for those who are even experience with the science.

3 Salby uses the classic theory of the greenhouse effect even though he covers it comprehensively, it didn’t answer some of the problems I have run across with the theory.

4 It would be nice if a glossary was included to define some of the scientific terms.

My critique is based on one chapter of the book involving radiative transfer. Overall the book is long and very comprehensive. Scientists would find it enlightening.
13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f312b04) out of 5 stars Which way is the wind is blowing? March 22 2014
By Lucy Skywalker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I acquired this textbook because it seemed to be the best of its kind. Another reviewer says: "... it is unequalled in breadth, depth and lucidity. It is the single volume that I recommend to every one of my students in atmospheric science..."

Caveat Lector. Reviewer John Mashey is involved in the anti-climate-skeptics DeSmogBlog, which cross-references with Skeptical Science. SkS have identified 232 claims of climate skeptics so far; and have done a hatchet job on each one. Google "skeptical science fixednum".

What? Is it possible to have that many arguments needing demolishing?

Sadly in my opinion, nowhere in the climate skeptics' world can one find answers to all these claims put together in one place. For most certainly there are at least 232 answers.

Mashey and friends are weighing in with ferocity against this magnum opus. But does it deserve such opprobrium? A sharp polarization of views into those who are strongly for and those who are strongly against, always suggests to me that the "official" side has gone corrupt. Look at the quality of responses. Which side appears to be the more courteous, comprehensible, factual, knowledgeable? Which side appeals more to emotions? Which side is more concerned with putting people down?

Salby has done the worst of all possible things, in the mind of anti-climate-skeptics. His very expertise as a climate scientist has led him to become an apostate to the party line. He believes that the rise in carbon dioxide can be explained in purely natural terms, invoking Henry's Law.

While being chased towards oblivion by his own University, he still found time to update this prodigious legacy. Draw your own conclusions. Check the evidence on all sides, as per Scientific Method. Don't assume anyone's word is trustworthy. Remember Marcel Leroux who also wrote firstrate textbooks on Climate Science, but was hounded to oblivion (Wikipedia page deleted - a whole story there) for apostasy as an expert.