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Blue skies are usually thought of as a picture of contentment - but it's clouds that really capture our imaginations, with the familiar shapes and breathtaking vistas of light and shade we see in their formations. Above our heads, for much of the year, a spectacular drama unfolds on a gigantic scale, and we have only to gaze up, or out of the window, for an inspiring show of nature's majesty.
This irresistible book, with a chapter for each of the ten major cloud types, combines science with beauty, presenting approximately 100 superb cloud photographs, with explanatory captions. An enjoyable introduction delivers fascinating snippets of mythology and weather lore; while a 24-page scientific overview at the back of the book, fully illustrated with informative colour artworks, explains how to recognize the different cloud types and understand their significance for the weather.
Studying clouds, we learn, is like reading someone's face: a cloud is simply the atmosphere expressing its mood. 'His sky is always filled with clouds' is an Arabic expression to describe someone who is lucky or blessed. Perfectly put.
Eric M. Wilcox is an atmospheric scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Trained at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, his work is centred on climate modelling and cloud interactions. He has contributed a number of articles to technical journals. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union.