In the press
Under Cover (second edition)
Takakura and Wei Fang. Kluwer Academic Publishers. xi + 185
1-4020-0845-7 Kluwer Academic Publishers (2002). Price:
Cover examines the microclimatic effects of various types of
covering materials used to improve crop yields. These
materials range from mulches to rain-shelters to
approach is used throughout the book using techniques based
on MATLAB, a mathematical software used in many engineering
courses and very suitable in the current WINDOWS
environment. The elements considered are the heat balance,
radiation, temperature, CO2, water and water vapour, as well
as the responses of plants to these elements as modified by
various types of cover.
consists of 10 chapters of varying lengths. A four-page
reference list at the end of the tenth chapter is followed
by an eight-page appendix on the user interface of the
climate-under cover-models used in the book and a six-page
subject index. Problems are given at the end of each chapter
to test the reader’s understanding of the contents of the
chapter. No solutions or hints are provided, however.
chapter of the book is introductory and describes the major
types of mulches/covers in use worldwide to protect crops
from unfavourable growing conditions such as inclement or
severe weather, birds and insects. The text is clear and
useful statistics are presented in seven tables.
chapter discusses in some detail the various properties of
covering materials. The third chapter on digital simulation
introduces the reader to the principles of digital
simulation techniques used in studies of climate under
cover. The subsequent chapters build on these by examining
in detail the use of digital simulation techniques in the
study of the heat balance of bare ground (Chapter 4), solar
radiation environment under cover (Chapter 5), temperature
environment under cover (Chapter 6), the CO2 environment
under cover (Chapter 7) and water and water vapour
environment under cover (chapter 8).
chapter of the book entitled “Control function” deals
mainly with greenhouse models which may be static or
dynamic. Greenhouse models consist of four subsystems namely
light penetration, heat and mass transfer, control function
and plant growth.
chapter is devoted to a discussion of the dynamic modelling
of plant response to the environment with particular
reference to plant photosynthesis and respiration, stomatal
resistance of plants and plant growth and yield.
Cover is basically a book for modellers interested in
agricultural structures and environments. According to the
authors, it was written for a computer simulation class at
graduate level at the University of Tokyo. Readers are
assumed to have a good knowledge of differential equations,
numerical analysis and computer programming. The book is
well produced and printed beautifully on acid-free paper. A
few typographical errors in the text, notably on pages x,
and xi, do not, however, detract from the quality of the
of the simulation programmes discussed are given in the text
while the full programmes are available from the Internet at
the two Websites given in the preface. The book will no
doubt be useful to soil physicists, agriculturists,
microclimatologists and biologists who have the necessary
mathematical background and flair for modelling. On the
other hand, those without good knowledge of differential
equations, numerical analysis and computer programming may
find it rather difficult to understand. Overall, I consider
the book a worthy complement to existing empirical studies
of the microclimatic effects of mulches of various types and
greenhouses and their effects on crops.
Glantz. Island Press (2003). xix + 291 pp. ISBN 1-55963-919-9. Price: US$ 18.95.
summarizes knowledge of climate and climate change; the
relationship between climate and various human activities;
and economic aspects of the use of both climate information
and climate and weather forecasts.
raised include a description and assessment of the societal
impacts of weather and natural climatic processes, as well
as the link between climate and food production, human
health, politics and even ethics.
seven chapters are all illustrated by figures, diagrams and
“What is climate?”, defines the terms “climate” and
“weather” and makes a clear distinction between them.
The reader is given an understanding of the global climate
system and the differences between climate variability and
climate change. Special attention is given to global warming
and its impacts, as well as an estimate, based on models of
the global circulation of the atmosphere, of the possible
increase in global temperature by the end of the 21st
“Climate and society”, describes in detail extreme
phenomena such as droughts, floods, fires, ice storms and
frosts, tropical storms and El Niño/La Niña.
“Climate and geography”, provides information on typical
natural disasters in each continent. This information is
repeated in the appendix, “The twentieth century’s
climate extremes”, containing the dates of natural
disasters, with population and economic losses, which gives
the book a certain value as a reference work.
In Chapter 4,
“What is climate affairs?”, the question is divided into
several components, in particular:
science contains a general description of the system as
related to human activity, discussing, for example,
desertification and possible human impacts on this natural
process (irrigation, tree planting, precipitation
enhancement). Large-scale projects aimed at improving living
conditions are listed (creation of drainage basins filled
with river- or seawater in dry, inland parts of Africa; use
of Antarctic icebergs for moisture along coasts in countries
with a dry climate such as Saudi Arabia, Argentina, etc.),
most of which only exist in theory.
impacts covers the relationship between climate conditions
and certain types of human activity such as animal husbandry
and fishing, showing, through concrete examples of
fluctuations in catches of cod in the United Kingdom and
salmon in the USA and Canada, the great sensitivity of fish
stocks to climate change.
politics describes how politicians’ interest in
climatological problems became evident at the beginning of
the 1970s with the collapse of Peruvian fishing in 1972/1973
and droughts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It explains
what the World Climate Programme is, describing in detail
the role of greenhouse gases, while outlining the Montreal
Protocol, as well as the Kyoto Protocol and the differing
attitudes towards it in various countries.
politics covers international security matters, giving a
number of well-known as well as less familiar examples of
the impact of weather conditions on military operations
(e.g. the role of the cold winter in the invasion of Russia
by Napoleon’s troops in 1812).
“Use of climate information in decision-making”, focuses
on climate predictions and their use. The clearest example
is the long-range forecasting of the 1997/1998 El Niño
event with the reactions of various governments. A short
section covers the problem of the Caspian Sea with its
irregular fluctuation in level, the sometimes inappropriate
technical solutions to stabilize it and very-long-range
forecasting of the sea’s level in the future.
“How we know what we know”, and Chapter 7,
“Conclusion”, contain more general information,
including a discussion of research methods, psychological
aspects of climate and weather, and some notes about climate
book is an attempt to make a comprehensive assessment of
climate both as a factor of the environment and as a major
element in the activities of human society. It is
multi-faceted and filled with a wide range of information.
The rich factual material is presented laconically and
accurately, making the book interesting to read.
subtitle, “A primer”, which could be interpreted as
“Handbook for beginners”, the book seems to be primarily
intended for members of the general public interested in
climate. However, it will also be useful for natural science
specialists because of its informativeness and the many
books received for review in the WMO Bulletin
Change in Prehistory
William J. Burroughs. Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0-521-82409-5. xii + 356 pp. Price: £19.99/US$ 30.
in Prehistory explores the challenges that faced humankind
in a glacial climate and the opportunities that arose when
the climate improved dramatically around 10000 years ago.
Drawing on recent advances in genetic mapping, it presents
the latest thinking on how the fluctuations during the ice
age defined the development and spread of modern humans
across the Earth. It reviews the aspects of our physiology,
intellectual development and social behaviour that have been
influenced by climatic factors, and how features of our
lives—diet, language, health and relationship with
nature—are also the product of the climate in which we
evolved. This analysis is based on the proposition that
essential features of modern societies—agriculture and
urban life—became possible only when the climate settled
down after the chaos ofo the last ice age.
Change and Africa
Editor: Pak Sum Low. Cambridge University Press (2005).
ISBN 0-521-8364-4. xli + 369 pp. Price: £85/US$ 150.
beginning of the 21st century, climate change is an
environmental issue of global magnitude. The poorer
developing countries are the least well equipped to adapt to
the potential effects of climate change.
presents the issues of most relevance to Africa, such as
past and present climate, desertification, biomass burning
and its implications for atmospheric chemistry and climate,
energy generation, sea-level rise, ENSO-induced drought and
flood, adaptation, disaster risk reduction, The UNFCCC and
Kyoto Protocol (especially the Clean Development Mechanism),
capacity-building, and sustainable development.
Sounds in the Sea
Herman Medwin and colleagues. Cambridge University Press
ISBN 0-521-82950-X. xxi + 643 pp. Price: £85/US$ 100.
The oceans are
vast, complex, mostly dark, optically opaque but
acoustically transparent worlds that have been only thinly
sampled by today’s technology and science. Underwater
acousticians and acoustical oceanographers use sound as the
premier tool to determine the detailed characteristics of
physical and biological bodies and processes at sea. Myriad
components of the ocean world are being discovered,
identified, characterized, and imaged by their interactions
acoustics” describes the traditional direction in which
our knowledge of ocean temperature and salinity allows us to
use sound to find fish, submarines, icebergs, and the depth
of the ocean. “Acoustical oceanography” interprets the
distinctive details of time-varying sound amplitudes and
phases over acoustical paths to deduce the physical and
biological parameters of the specific ocean through which
the sound has travelled.
Climate Variability and Change
James Salinger, M.V.K. Sivakumar and Raymond P. Motha
(Eds.). Springer (2005). ISBN 1-4020-3354-0. vi + 362 pp.
One of the
major challenges facing humankind is to provide an equitable
standard of living for this and future generations: adequate
food, water and energy, safe shelter and a healthy
climate change, and increasing climate variability, as well
as other global environmental issues such as land
degradation and loss of biological diversity threaten our
ability to meet these basic human needs.
The 1990s were
the warmest decade of the 20th century, and likely to be the
warmest for the last 1 000 years. In addition, the frequency of extreme events is rising and
many parts of the world have recently suffered major
heat-waves, floods and droughts leading to significant loss
of life and economic costs.
The range of
adaptation options for agriculture and forestry is generally
increasing because of technological advances, thus reducing
the vulnerability of these systems to climate change.
However, some regions of the world, particularly developing
countries, have limited access to these technologies.
and forestry are currently not optimally managed with
respect to today’s natural climate variability. Decreasing the vulnerability of agriculture and forestry to
increasing climatic variability will go a long way towards
reducing the long-term vulnerability to climate change. This
book assesses the science of climate variability and change,
and their likely impacts on agriculture and forestry, with
adaptation strategies required to reduce their