Books  Environmental Science  Climate & Climate Change 

Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth

  • Provides all the scientific evidence for and possible causes of climate change in one book
  • Written by expert scientists working in the field
  • Logical, non-emotional conclusions
  • A source book for the latest findings on climate change

By: Trevor M Letcher(Editor)

632 pages, ~ 200 colour illustrations


Paperback | Oct 2015 | Edition: 2 | #230646 | ISBN-13: 9780444635242
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £68.99 $91/€77 approx
Hardback | May 2009 | Edition: 1 | #179456 | ISBN-13: 9780444533012
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £68.50 $91/€77 approx

About this book

Earth's climate is always changing. As the debate over the Earth's climate has grown, the term "climate change" has come to refer primarily to changes we've seen over recent years and those that are predicted to be coming, mainly as a result of human behavior. Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth, Second Edition, serves as a broad, accessible guide to the science behind this often political and heated debate by providing scientific detail and evidence in language that is clear to both the climatologist and the non-specialist.

Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth contains 35 chapters on all scientific aspects of climate change, written by the world's authority of each particular subject. It collects the latest information on all of these topics in one volume. In this way, readers can make connections between the various topics covered in the book, leading to new ways of solving problems and looking at related issues. Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth also contains major references and details for further research and understanding on all issues related to climate change, giving a clear indication of a looming crisis in global warming and climate change.

Review of the first edition:

"This book encompasses 25 chapters written by 30 international experts on climate change [...] The chapter treatments are concise and authoritative [...] The book is well constructed and includes 30 high-quality color plates illustrating striking climate phenomena; references are provided at the end of each chapter. This work is complemented by Letcher's Future Energy (2008). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through professional collections."
– F. T. Manheim, George Mason University, Choice, December 2009


List of Contributors
Part 1. A Geological History of Climate Change

Chapter 1. Climate Change Through Earth's History

1. Introduction
2. Climate Models
3. Long-Term Climate Trends
4. Early Climate History
5. Phanerozoic Glaciations
6. The Mesozoic – Early Cenozoic Greenhouse
7. Development of the Cenozoic Icehouse
8. Astronomical Modulation of Climate
9. Milankovitch Cyclicity in Quaternary (Pleistocene) Climate History
10. Quaternary Sub-Milankovitch Cyclicity
11. The Holocene
12. Climate of the Anthropocene
13. Conclusions

Part 2. Indicators of Climate Change

Chapter 2. Global Surface Temperatures

1. Introduction
2. Basic Data Availability
3. Analyses of Land Surface Air Temperatures
4. Analyses of Sea Surface Temperatures
5. Global Changes
6. Uncertainty Quantification
7. Characterization of Extremes and Variability
8. Future Research Directions
9. Conclusions

Chapter 3. Arctic Sea Ice

1. Introduction
2. Observed Changes in the State of Arctic Sea Ice
3. Classifying and Comprehending the Observed Changes
4. Conclusions

Chapter 4. Antarctic Sea Ice Changes and Their Implications

1. Introduction
2. Why Antarctic Ice Is Different
3. Snow on the Ice
4. The Annual Ice Cycle and Its Changes
5. What Is Happening to the Ice?
6. Response of the Antarctic to Changes Elsewhere

Chapter 5. Land Ice: Indicator and Integrator of Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. Mass Balance of Glaciers and Ice Sheets
3. Long-term Behaviour
4. Observations of Recent Changes
5. Concluding Remarks

Chapter 6. Poleward Expansion of the Atmospheric Circulation

1. Introduction
2. The General Circulation of the Atmosphere
3. Evidence for Circulation Change
4. Cause for Circulation Change
5. Emerging Dynamical Mechanisms
6. Summary, Outstanding Problems, and Conclusions
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 7. Weather Pattern Changes in the Tropics and Mid-latitudes

1. Introduction
2. Observed Changes in Sea Level Pressure
3. Observed Changes in Extratropical Patterns
4. Changes in Tropical Patterns
5. Conclusions

Chapter 8. Bird Ecology

1. Introduction
2. Indicators of Change
3. Conclusions

Chapter 9. Mammal Ecology

1. Introduction: How Does Climate Impact Mammals?
2. Climate Impacts Scale from Local to Global, Daily to Geological
3. Demonstrated Impacts of Climate Change on Mammals
4. Conclusion: Linking Time and Space in Mammal Responses to Climate

Chapter 10. Insect Communities

1. Introduction
2. Range Changes
3. Changes in Phenology
4. Physiology
5. Responses to Other Climactic Variables
6. Insect Communities Under Climate Change
7. Conclusion

Chapter 11. Sea Life (Pelagic Ecosystems)

1. Pelagic and Planktonic Ecosystems
2. Observed Impacts on Pelagic and Planktonic Ecosystems
3. Conclusion and Summary of Key Indicators

Chapter 12. Changes in Coral Reef Ecosystems

1. Introduction
2. Tropical Coral Reef Ecosystems
3. The Associated Fauna of Coral Reefs
4. Conclusion

Chapter 13. Marine Biodiversity and Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. Climate Change in the Oceans
3. Effects of Climate Change on Marine Biodiversity
4. Cumulative Impacts and Indirect Effects of Climate Change
5. Biodiversity as Insurance against Climate Change Impacts
6. Conclusions

Chapter 14. Intertidal Indicators of Climate and Global Change

1. Introduction
2. Climate Change and Biogeography
3. Mechanisms and Microclimate
4. Additional Impacts of Global Change
5. Conclusions

Chapter 15. Plant Ecology

1. Introduction
2. Changes in Phenology
3. Changes in Distribution
4. Community Composition
5. Plant Growth
6. Conclusions

Chapter 16. Rising Sea Levels

1. Introduction
2. Is Sea Level Rising?
3. Why Is Sea Level Rising?
4. Are Contemporary Rates of Sea Level Rise Unusual?
5. Conclusion

Chapter 17. Ocean Current Changes

1. Introduction
2. The Variable Ocean
3. Oceanographer's Tools
4. The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
5. Conclusion

Chapter 18. Ocean Acidification

1. Introduction
2. Evidence from Observations
3. Model Predictions of Future Change
4. Impacts
5. Biogeochemical Cycling and Feedback to Climate
6. Adaptation, Recovery and Mitigation
7. Conclusions

Chapter 19. Lichens

1. Introduction
2. Predicted Effects
3. Observed Effects
4. Uncertain Effects
5. Habitats with Vulnerable Lichens

Chapter 20. Coastline Degradation as an Indicator of Global Change

1. Introduction
2. Sea Level Rise and Coastal Systems
3. Climate Change and Global/Relative Sea Level Rise
4. Increasing Human Utilization of the Coastal Zone
5. Climate Change, Sea Level Rise and Resulting Impacts
6. Recent Impacts of Sea Level Rise
7. Global Warming and Coasts at Latitudinal Extremes
8. The Challenge to Understand Contemporary Impacts
9. Concluding Remarks

Chapter 21. Plant Pathogens as Indicators of Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. Climatic Variables and Plant Disease
3. Evidence That Simulated Climate Change Affects Plant Disease in Experiments
4. Evidence That Plant Disease Patterns Have Changed Due to Climate Change

Part 3. Modelling Climate Change

Chapter 22. Statistical Modelling of Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. Bayesian Modelling
3. Modelling Climate Change
4. Modelling the Cost of Climate Change
5. Conclusions

Chapter 23. A Modelling Perspective of Future Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. Climate Models
3. Evaluation of Climate Models
4. Future Climate Change Projections
5. Conclusions

Part 4. Possible Roles in Causing Climate Change

Chapter 24. The Role of Atmospheric Gases

1. Introduction
2. Myths, Facts, Lies and Opinions About the Greenhouse Effect
3. Origin of the Greenhouse Effect: ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’ Effects
4. The Physical Chemistry Properties of Greenhouse Gases
5. Has Anything Changed in the Last Decade?

Chapter 25. The Variation of the Earth's Movements (Orbital, Tilt and Precession)

1. Introduction
2. Astronomical Parameters
3. Orbital-induced Climate Change
4. Conclusion

Chapter 26. The Role of Volcanic Activity in Climate and Global Change

1. Introduction
2. Aerosol Loading, Spatial Distribution and Radiative Effect
3. Volcanoes and Climate
4. Summary

Chapter 27. Atmospheric Aerosols and Their Role in Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. The Life Cycle of Tropospheric Aerosols
3. The Spatial Distribution of Tropospheric Aerosols
4. Aerosol-Radiation Interactions
5. Aerosol-Cloud Interactions
6. The Net Radiative Forcing of Aerosols
7. The Role of Aerosols in Climate Feedback Mechanisms
8. The Role of Aerosols in Potential Climate Engineering Schemes

Chapter 28. Climate Change and Agriculture

1. Introduction
2. Agriculture and Climate Change
3. Sources of Emissions from Agriculture
4. Accelerated Soil Erosion
5. Mitigation Potential of Agriculture
6. Conclusions
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 29. Widespread Surface Solar Radiation Changes and Their Effects: Dimming and Brightening

1. Introduction – Solar Radiation Basics
2. Solar Radiation above the Atmosphere
3. Solar Radiation Below the Atmosphere
4. Trends in Surface Solar Radiation, or Global Dimming and Brightening
5. The Causes of Dimming and Brightening
6. Influence of Solar Radiation Changes (Global Dimming and Brightening) on Climate
7. Conclusions

Chapter 30. Space Weather and Cosmic Ray Effects

1. Introduction
2. Solar Activity, Cosmic Rays and Climate Change
3. The Influence on the Earth's Climate of the Solar System Moving around the Galactic Centre and Crossing Galaxy Arms
4. The Influence of Molecular-dust Galactic Clouds on the Earth's Climate
5. The Influence of Interplanetary Dust Sources on the Earth’s Climate
6. Space Factors and Global Warming
7. The Influence of Asteroids on the Earth's Climate
8. The Influence of Nearby Supernova on the Earth's Climate
9. Discussion and Conclusions

Part 5. Engineering, Societal and Forestry Aspects of Climate Change

Chapter 31. Engineering Aspects of Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. The Role of the Engineer
3. Global Greenhouse Gases
4. Engineering Aspects of the ‘Spheres’
5. Engineering and the Carbon Cycle
6. Nutrient Engineering
7. Albedo Engineering
8. Engineering-based Decision-making

Chapter 32. Societal Adaptation to Climate Change

1. Introduction
2. Risk and Vulnerability
3. Disease Occurrence and Transmission
4. Ocean and Large-scale Surface Water Changes
5. Shifting Biomes and Resilience
6. Extreme Events
7. Food and Water Supply
8. Conclusions

Chapter 33. Climate Impacts and Adaptations in Forest Management

1. Introduction
2. How Climate is Changing and How that Affects Forests
3. Modelling and Uncertainty
4. Mitigation and Adaptation
5. Resilient Forest Ecosystems and Management
6. The Silviculture of Resilience
7. Adaptation in Practice
8. Challenges for the Future


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Trevor M. Letcher is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a past Director of the International Association of Chemical Thermodynamics and his research involves the thermodynamics of liquid mixtures and energy from landfill. He was awarded the South African Chemical Institute's Gold medal in 1999 and in 2000 he was awarded the South African Gold medal by the South African Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published over 250 papers in peer review journals and has edited, co-edited and written eleven books in his research and related fields. His latest books include Unraveling Environmental Disasters (2012), Materials for a Sustainable Future (2012), Waste (2011), Heat Capacities (2010), Climate Change (2009) and Future Energy (2008). His leisure activities involve regular hikes with the Mendip Ramblers, woodwork (long case clocks) and wood turning, gardening at home and on his allotment, theatre, reading and playing golf.

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