In the press
of Water—mapping the world's most critical resource
and Jannet King. Earthscan, London (2004). 127 pages;
numerous illustrations in colour. ISBN 1-84407-133-2.
atlas should be on the desk of everyone concerned with the
the provision, conservation and optimal use of freshwater
resources. It gives a wealth of information in comparatively
few pages. Statistics are presented in table form and in
double-page maps. Although some of these maps have insets
with parts of the world in greater detail, some of the
information is difficult to read, particularly at the
division between the two pages. This design, which seems to
be more concerned with prettiness than legibility, does not
facilitate the task of reading, particularly for those with
reading difficulties or with colour-vision problems.
intention of the publication, in addition to the
presentation of the information on the global problems of
access to adequate water, seems to be to draw attention to
the possibilities of reducing water consumption and of
increasing the efficiency of water use in a number of areas.
This has already been done in some countries with regard to
agricultural use, for example, by using drip irrigation, and
particularly industrial use, where it has been possible to
make savings of 50 per cent of water, while almost
In the final section, attention is drawn to one of the messages
of the United Nations World Water Development Report that,
by the year 2025, the world could be faced with a severe
water shortage that could lead to a reduction in food
production; and that, by 2050, 4 billion people could be
living in countries that are chronically short of water. It
is suggested that much could be achieved by using water more
productively as a result of radical changes in water
In looking to
the future, however, neither the Atlas of Water nor the UN
World Water Development Report has given much consideration
to the fact that approximately half the present global
population now between the ages of one day and 16 years,
will mature and can be expected to seek better standards of
living and to have rather different patterns of resource use
from their parents. Increased access to imagery of how
people live in the industrialized world can have major
impacts on desires for different, if not necessarily better,
nutrition, transport and way of life generally.
the amount of water required to produce 1 kg of cereal is
about 1.5 m3, of poultry 6 m3 and of beef 15 m3. Changes
from tortilla and beans to a beefburger, for example, will
have significant effects on water use. For transport, to
take but one example, China at present has about eight cars
per 1000 residents (compared with 122 in Brazil’s and 940
in the USA) but, from 1 million in 1990, the estimate is
that it will be 14 million before the end of 2005. If the
same rate of growth continues until 2025, there will be more
than 30 million, but a semi-official estimate is that there
will be more than 140 million. In reflecting on this one has
to take into consideration not only the prime resources that
will be needed to produce the cars but also the energy to be
used in them and the waste products produced.
A third factor is the
possible desire to migrate to another country where the
standard of living seems, and may be, better. What will be
the effects of increases in migrations on water resources? A
fourth factor is the increasing amount of man-made chemicals
that are discharged into rivers, estuaries and the sea. The
effects on wildlife although still imprecisely known. are
likely to be negative, especially for aquatic mammals.
The Atlas of Water makes no
mention of the WMO or of the lead taken by the Organization
in the collection of data on water, nor is any WMO
publication given as a “useful source”.
Thomas T. Warner, Cambridge
University Press (2004); xvi + 595 pages. ISBN 0-52181798-6.
Price: £80/US$ 120.
This book is a welcome
addition to the scientific works on dryland issues initiated
in the 1950s by the UNESCO arid zone programme. Its title
expands the concept of meteorology (physics of the lower
troposphere) to encompass almost all elements of ecology:
the 20 chapters of the book present a rich range of
material. Because of this admirably broad range, chapters often contain a
degree of repetition, requiring the reader to do some
inter-chapter cross-referencing. The sequence of chapters
may also be a distraction but not a serious one.
The three principal areas
- The physics of
atmospheric dynamics that relate to microscale
air and surface and subsurface features of the ground),
meso- and macroscale
continental or ecogeographical units
- Ecological interactions
of biota, including human beings, with the elements
of the desert
- Impacts of desert
processes on global climate and the worldwide geography
geography of climatic aridity (causes) is explained and
forces that may drive climate change are reviewed, as are
likely impacts of desert environment, particularly dust, on
atmospheric processes. This is a comprehensive coverage.
dimension of impacts of deserts and processes of dryland
degradation (desertification) caused primarily by human
overexploitation, has relevance to issues of international
governance of global environmental issues. When the World
Bank/UNDP/UNEP envisaged the establishment of a Global
Environment Facility (GEF) in 1991 as a financial mechanism
in support of schemes for managing global environment
was not considered to be a global environment issue to be
included with protecting the ozone layer; limiting emission
of greenhouse gases; protection of biodiversity; and
protection of international waters. The position of GEF
towards desertification has mellowed since 2002. Some
chapters of this book explain the scientific basis for this
change in attitude.
chapters address issues of interactions of vegetation with,
and impacts of humans on, dryland ecosystems. Advanced
students of desert ecology will find here sources of ideas.
One chapter addresses the question of human adaptation to a
desert environment that is dry and austere.
chapters deal with desert rainfall: a climatic feature that
controls the ecological features of deserts. Paucity and
wide-scale variability make water resources poor and
non-predictable. Excess may cause floods that can be
destructive: this is the dilemma of desert inhabitants and
desert biota. Recurrent drought is the most damaging
environmental menace for inhabitants of the world’s
text is based on solid science and the author presents his
diverse material in a commendable style of clear and well
illustrated text. Because climate studies depend on the
science of physics, the presentation includes mathematical
equations (and models) but the author handles this in a way
that keeps the book accessible for a broad readership, which
is an added merit.
set of appendices adds to the utility of the text. The list
of references, though rich, misses several useful and
relevant publications, examples: Interactions of
Desertification and Climate, by M.A.J. Williams and R.-C.
Balling, 1996, WMO/UNEP; Atlas of African Rainfall and its
Interannual Variability, by S.E. Nicholson, J. Kim and J.
Hoopingarner, 1988, Florida State University.
is a reference book that deserves acclaim. It does indeed
present an “in-depth review of [desert] meteorology and
climate … desert geomorphology, desert hydrologic systems,
and desert thermal energy budget”. It provides excellent
text and teaching material: each chapter ends with
“questions for review” and “problems and exercises”,
as well as hints to solving some of the problems and
books received for review in the WMO Bulletin
Atmospheric Turbulence and Mesoscale Meteorology
E. Fedorovich, R.
Rotunno and B. Stevens (Eds.). Cambridge University Press
(2004). x + 280 pages; numerous equations and figures. ISBN
0-521-83588-7 (h/b), Price: £70/US$ 120.
The Interaction of Ocean Waves and Wind
By P. Jansen.
Cambridge University Press (2004). viii + 300 pages;
numerous equations and figures. ISBN 0-521-46540-0 (h/b).
Price: £70/US$ 120.
Hydrogeology of the Oceanic Lithosphere
E. Davis and H.
Elderfield (Eds.). Cambridge University Press (2004). xx +
706 pages; numerous figures + CD-ROM. ISBN 0-521-81929-6
(h/b). Price: £95/US$ 170.
Earth System Analysis for Sustainability
P.J. Crutzen, W.C. Clark, M. Claussen and H. Held. The MIT
Press, London (2004). xiv + 454 pages. ISBN 0-262-19513-5.
Particulate Matter Science for Policy Makers—A NARSTO Assessment
Shepherd and J. Vickery (Eds.). Cambridge University Press
(2004). xxxi + 510 pages. ISBN 0-521-84287-5 (h/b). Price:
Impacts of a Warming Arctic—Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
University Press (2004). 140 pages; numerous illustrations.
ISBN 0-521-61778-2 (p/b). Price: £19.99/US$ 29.99.