Although this might be considered by some to be a little long, it is a fascinating and insightful introduction as well as providing a very useful foundation to the.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY Int. J. Climatol. 28: 135–136 (2008)
PRECIPITATION: THEORY, MEASUREMENT AND DISTRIBUTION. IAN STRANGEWAYS. ISBN: 0521851173 £70.00 (HARDBACK) CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, C Kidd
‘Precipitation: Theory, Measurement and Distribution’ is certainly the first comprehensive book dedicated to this topic and does not disappoint. It builds upon the author’s previous publications, most notably ‘Measuring the Environment’ (Stangeways, 2003). The book is set out in chapters contained in five main sections. The first section, entitled ‘Past theories of rain and snow’ looks at how ideas about the water cycle in general were established over the last four millennia, starting with the Egyptians, Hebrews and Greeks. The last is dealt with in some detail, looking at the Grecian view of the elements, and in particular, the philosophy of Aristotle. This section then goes on to look at how the Romans developed these ideas, providing the basis for the Church’s own sake on science in the middle ages. The second chapter within this section looks at how the ideas of precipitation developed from the 17th century onwards, with new and emerging ideas on water vapour, clouds and precipitation. Although this might be considered by some to be a little long, it is a fascinating and insightful introduction as well as providing a very useful foundation to the subject. The second main section (chapters 3–6) covers the present theories on the basic processes from cloud formation, through droplets, ice crystals and precipitation to lightning. The chapter covering the basic processes provides invaluable background material, followed by the chapter on cloud formation. This provides a comprehensive guide to the identification of clouds and their measurement which, of course, are essential to the formation of precipitation, but it felt a little off-topic and somewhat long (in my opinion). The following chapter on droplet formation/nucleation is perhaps a little short: 12 pages are devoted to this topic, while lightning occupies 18 pages. However the chapter in line with the rest of the book, is informative, and would provide a good introduction to students and lay-readers alike. Part three (chapters 7–11) addresses the measurement of precipitation. The first chapter in this section looks at the historical aspects, leading onto the next chapter on measuring precipitation with rain gauges. This chapter covers the development of a range of gauges, including what we now consider the ‘standard’ gauge, tipping Copyright 2007 Royal Meteorological Society
bucket, siphon gauges, etc., together with errors associated with their measurement. The chapter ends with brief descriptions of newer non-collecting gauges such as distrometers, optical gauges etc. A small section covers oceanic measurements whilst a separate (small) chapter covers snow-measurement and its associated errors. The final two chapters of this part cover the ‘remote sensing’ of precipitation through radar (Chapter 10) and satellite observations (chapter 11). Each section provides a useful background to the relevant topic although (being a little biased here) the satellite chapter could have been tidied up a little. The measurements described above are put to use in part four which covers the global distribution of precipitation. This section is split into three chapters: the first covers rain gauge and satellite datasets. This chapter begins by covering the data set providers and problems associated with scaling from point measurements to spatial measurements. Despite the title of the chapter, the pages devoted to satellite data sets are perhaps too few, particularly since it is described as ‘global distribution’. This ‘bias’ is continued in the next section, looking at precipitation means and trends – only one paragraph is devoted to satellite measurements. The section ends with a chapter on the variability (including El Nino, NAO etc.) and extremes in precipitation. The book concludes with a final part/chapter on future developments, looking at how the current measurements of precipitation could be improved to be more comprehensive and representative: may be it is a little short (and a little biased towards traditional instrumentation – but see Levizzani et al., 2007, for a more comprehensive satellite-observations text). Overall I liked the book. It is informative and interesting, providing a good background on the basics of precipitation theory, and its measurement and distribution – it does what it says in the title. It would provide a good introduction to the subject for students, as well as providing a good ‘refresher’ text to other scientists. DR.CHRIS KIDD* Co-Chair, International Precipitation Working Group School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/joc.1614
References Levizzani V, Bauer P, Turk FJ. 2007. Measuring Precipitation from Space: EURAINSAT and the Future, Advances in Global Change Research, Vol. 28. Springer: Dordrecht; 722.
Copyright 2007 Royal Meteorological Society
Stangeways I. 2003. Measuring the Natural Environment, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge; 534.
Int. J. Climatol. 28: 135–136 (2008) DOI: 10.1002/joc