New books view storms, the stratosphere, and more

November 17, 1999

1999-39 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 1999 Views of Storms, the Aral Sea, and the Stratosphere Await Readers of New Books on Atmospheric Science

BOULDER--A global perspective on storms, a glimpse into creeping degradation of the Aral Sea, and a portrait of the stratosphere await readers of recent books by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). For specialists, recent works examine atmospheric chemistry and global change and explain the newest statistical methods in atmospheric science. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

This roundup of recent publications lists NCAR contributors in boldface.

For both scientific and general audiences Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society, by Roger A. Pielke, Jr., and Roger Pielke, Sr. John Wiley & Sons, 1998, 298 pp., ISBN: 0-471-97354-8.

The book defines and assesses the hurricane problem, focusing primarily on the United States, in order to lay a foundation for action. The authors address both the scientific and societal aspects of hurricanes. Although the book focuses on the United States, it illustrates weather- related impact assessments that could be applied in other areas and to phenomena other than hurricanes. More broadly, this book seeks to illustrate the beneficial uses (as well as limitations) of hurricane science to society. In an era when scientific research is under public and political pressure to demonstrate practical connection to societal needs, explicit consideration of the relationship between science and society is vital.

Roger A. Pielke, Jr., is a political scientist in the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group at NCAR. Roger Pielke, Sr., is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, and is Colorado's state climatologist. Creeping Environmental Problems and Sustainable Development in the Aral Sea Basin, edited by Michael H. Glantz. Cambridge University Press, 1999, 304 pp., ISBN 0-521-62086-4.

One of the worst human-made environmental catastrophes of the 20th century, the Aral crisis has been labeled a "quiet Chernobyl." Just a few decades ago, the Aral Sea was the fourth-largest inland body of water in the world. Today, it has fallen to sixth place, and it continues to shrink. This multidisciplinary book is the first to comprehensively describe the slow onset of low-grade but incremental changes affecting the region. Over a dozen researchers explore every facet of this environmental disaster: water level and salinity, river flow changes, fish population dynamics, changes in the landscape, desertification, public health, and political decision-making. Written in accessible language, the volume suggests ways to examine other creeping environmental disasters and will be of interest to those concerned with environmental studies, global change, political science, and history. Currents of Change: El Nino's Impact on Climate and Society, second edition, by Michael H. Glantz. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming, spring 2000).

This work is aimed at a broad audience. The author defines El Nino, describes its far-reaching impacts on climate and society, and discusses how those impacts might be forecast. The book considers the state of prediction research and the value of forecasts in preparing for widespread effects, from drought to malaria epidemics. The second edition includes seven new chapters examining the state-of-the-art of forecasting El Nino, media coverage of the phenomenon and its impacts, and a look at La Nina. The first edition (1996, 208 pp, ISBN 0-521- 57659-8) has been translated into Spanish (Cambridge University Press), Japanese (Zest Publishers, Tokyo), and both mainland and Taiwanese Chinese.

Michael H. Glantz is a senior scientist in and the former director of the Environmental and Societal Impacts Group at NCAR. He has published nine books on climate and society. Glantz's primer on La Nina will be published by the United Nations University in late 1999 or early 2000. A Global Perspective on Storms, edited by Roger A. Pielke, Jr., and Roger Pielke, Sr. Routledge, 1999 (forthcoming, January 2000).

More than 70 contributors from around the world discuss the science of storms, their impacts, and how humans respond. Societal vulnerability to the ravages of storms is the unifying theme in this examination of the physical and social science of storms.

For author information see Hurricanes, above. The Stratosphere: Phenomena, History, and Relevance, by Karin Labitzke and Harry van Loon. Springer-Verlag, 1999, 179 pp., 79 figs., 46 in color, ISBN 3-540-65784.

The authors describe the discovery of the stratosphere and of various unexpected phenomena within it. The story begins with explorers ascending 11 kilometers (almost 7 miles) by balloon in 1901 and moves on to a 1908 expedition to Lake Victoria in Africa that launched small, unmanned balloons and tracked them with a theodolite (surveyor's telescope). That expedition discovered then-inexplicable west winds in the stratosphere above the equator that were blowing in the opposite direction from the surface trade winds. From there, progress in understanding the stratosphere has included a sequence of major discoveries: the ozone layer in the 1930s; sudden explosive warmings of the arctic stratosphere in midwinter, called the Berlin Phenomenon, in 1952; the 27-month cycle of alternating eastward and westward winds, known as the quasi-biennial oscillation, in 1960; the influence of volcanic eruptions in 1970; the ozone hole in 1984; and the influence of the 11-year solar cycle in 1987. The book describes the connections between these phenomena and their relationship to variability in the climate system. The influence of humans on the stratosphere, such as the decrease in ozone, is addressed. The authors use the stratosphere as an example of nature's complexity and of how discoveries are sometimes ignored because they do not fit prevalent concepts. While written for advanced students and researchers in meteorology, climatology, atmospheric physics, and other fields, the book will also capture the imagination of interested lay readers.

Karin Labitzke is head of the Stratospheric Research Group in the Meteorological Institute of the Free University of Berlin. Harry van Loon is a senior research associate in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division at NCAR. For specialists Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change, edited by Guy P. Brasseur, John J. Orlando, and Geoffrey S. Tyndall. Oxford University Press, 1999, 688 pp., 23 plates, 323 line illustrations & halftones, ISBN 0-19-510521-4.

The authors examine chemical processes in theatmosphere, focusing on global-scale problems and their role in the evolution of the earth system. This collective effort by a group of scientists at NCAR and several universities and national laboratories takes a largely interdisciplinary approach. An ideal text for graduate courses in atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric science, the book is also an authoritative and practical reference for scientists studying the earth's atmosphere.

John J. Orlando and Geoffrey S. Tyndall are scientists in the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at NCAR; Guy P. Brasseur directs the division. Case Studies in Environmental Statistics, edited by Douglas Nychka, Walter W. Piegorsch, and Lawrence H. Cox. Springer-Verlag, 1998, 192 pp., ISBN 0-387-98478-X. The book is Volume 132 in the Lecture Notes in Statistics series.

Nychka, Piegorsch, and Cox provide a set of case studies exemplifying the broad range of statistical science used in environmental research and applications. The case studies can be used as a supplementary text for graduate courses in environmental statistics or as an overview of this field for environmental researchers and statisticians. The studies reported here are results from a program of research by the National Institute of Statistical Sciences during the years 1992-1996. NISS was created in 1991 as an initiative of national statistics organizations. Its mission is to renew and focus efforts of statistical science on important cross-disciplinary problems. One of its first projects was a cooperative research effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on problems of environmental science and regulation. A web companion at includes a shortened version of the book and additional links to relevant on-line data sets and public-domain software.

Douglas Nychka is a senior scientist and project leader of the Geophysical Statistics Project at NCAR. Walter W. Piegorsch is a professor in the Department of Statistics, University of South Carolina- Columbia. Lawrence H. Cox is a senior mathematical statistician, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory. Also in the Lecture Notes in Statistics series, Studies in the Atmospheric Sciences, edited by Mark Berliner, Douglas Nychka, and Timothy Hoar. Springer-Verlag (forthcoming, spring 2000).

This book is a primary statistical source for graduate students and researchers in the geophysical and environmental sciences. The chapter authors are statisticians who have collaborated with atmospheric scientists at NCAR and draw on that experience to present specific applications of various statistical methods. Understanding and predicting the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape our environment requires research over a wide range of scales, from the origin of local severe weather, to the impact of anthropogenic activities on global climate, to the dynamics of the internal structure of the Sun. Many of the statistical methods used to address such challenges in the geoscience are not found in standard courses or textbooks. This book presents new statistical methods that are valuable tools for the geophysical sciences.

Mark Berliner is a professor in the Department of Statistics at Ohio State University. Douglas Nychka is a senior scientist and project leader of the Geophysical Statistics Project at NCAR. Timothy Hoar is an associate scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division of NCAR.
NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of more than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.

National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

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