Books  Environmental Science  Oceanography 

The Fluid Envelope of Our Planet: How the Study of Ocean Currents Became a Science


By: Eric L Mills

432 pages, Figs

University of Toronto Press

Hardback | Jul 2009 | #178734 | ISBN-13: 9780802096975
Availability: In stock
Clearance price: £15.00 £47.99 (Save £32.99) $19/€16 approx

About this book

Oceans have had a mysterious allure for centuries, inspiring fears, myths, and poetic imaginations. By the early twentieth century, however, scientists began to see oceans as physical phenomena that could be understood through mathematical geophysics. This book explores the scientific developments from the early middle ages to the twentieth century that illuminated the once murky depths of oceanography.

Tracing the transition from descriptive to mathematical analyses of the oceans, Eric Mills examines sailors and explorers observations of the oceans, the influence of Scandinavian techniques on German-speaking geographers, and the eventual development of shared quantitative practices and ideas. A detailed and beautifully written account of the history of oceanography, this is also an engaging account of the emergence of a scientific discipline.

'It is a fascinating account of what went before and got us to where we are today in our understanding of the circulation of the ocean and all that this means to marine biology, marine chemistry and the many practical applications of what we now know as physical oceanography.' -- Colin Summerhayes, International Journal of Maritime History: vol22:02:10 'A page-turning history of physical oceanography ... Mills articulates the development of ideas, but he also delves into the background, motivation, and character of the leading actors in what is a compelling story that unfolds page by page ... To all of you interested in the development of ideas in oceanography: please read this book, you will learn, as I did, and in many places you will turn the pages as if it were a thriller.' -- Gwyn Griffiths Ocean Challenge


CONTENTS Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The Fluid Envelope of Our Planet 3 1 The Way of the Sea: Knowledge of Oceanic Circulation before the Nineteenth Century 10 2 Groping through the Darkness: The Problem of Deep Ocean Circulation 44 3 Boundaries Built with Numbers: Making the Ocean Mathematical 82 4 Evangelizing in the Wilderness: Dynamic Oceanography Comes to Canada 111 5 'Physische Meereskunde': From Geography to Physical Oceanography in Berlin, 1900 1935 137 6 'Decouverte de l'ocean': Monaco and the Failure of French Oceanography 162 7 Slipping away from Norway: Dynamic Oceanography Comes to the United States 192 8 Facing the Atlantic and the Pacific: Dynamic Oceanography Re-emerges in Canada, 1930 1950 232 9 Studying The Oceans and the Oceans 258 Appendix: Textbooks of Physical Oceanography 287 Notes 291 References 347 Index 419

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Eric L. Mills is a professor emeritus in the Department of Oceanography at Dalhousie University and former director of the History of Science and Technology Programme at the University of King's College.

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