Snow: The biography

Short Books
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**The Financial Times' Travel Book of the Year 2018**

How many snowflakes does it take to build a snowman?
Where is the snowiest place on Earth?
When will the last snowflake fall?


Snow has a lot in common with religion.

It comes from heaven. It changes everything. It creates an alternative reality and brings on irrational behaviour in humans. But unlike most religions, snow has never had a bible, until now.

Giles Whittell, a passionate snow enthusiast, takes the reader on a quest through centuries and continents to reveal the wonders of snow. Along the way he uncovers the mysteries of snow crystal morphology, why avalanches happen, how snow saved a British prime minister’s life, and the terrifying truth about the opening ceremony of the 1960 winter Olympics.

The Secret Life of Snow is the next best thing to a white Christmas, an anthropology and travelogue for everyone from ski addicts to the millions of people who have never even seen it.

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About the author

Giles Whittell is chief leader writer for The Times, and was previously the paper’s correspondent in Los Angeles, Moscow and Washington. He has written five previous books – Bridge of Spies, Spitfire Women of World War II, Extreme Continental, Central Asia and Lambada County. He lives with his wife, Karen Stirgwolt, and three sons in south London.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Short Books
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Published on
Oct 11, 2018
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781780723617
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Earth Sciences / Meteorology & Climatology
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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snowstorms along the Northeastern Coast of the United States: 1955 to 1985 documents 20 of the most crippling snowstorms that have affected the heavily populated coastal region of the Middle Atlantic states and southern New England over the last four decades. Heavy snowfall and high winds associated with storms often referred to as "nor'easters" can maroon millions of people at home or in transit, severely disrupt human services and commerce, and endanger the lives of those who venture out doors. Paul J. Kocin and Louis W. Uccellini provide answers to questions of how these important storms develop, what factors delineate snow/no snow situations, and what weather patterns provide clues that foretell such events. The book provides a comprehensive overview of this phenomenon from historical, climatological, and dynamical perspectives, using many illustrations, maps, tables, and color schematics. The introduction describes the major effects of such storms, the complex physical interactions that fuel their development, and the problems they present to forecasters trying to predict their fickle behavior and progress. A review of the great northeastern storms of the past three centuries follows, along with a climatology of the heavy snow events over a 30-year period. Descriptions of 20 major storms supply a framework for understanding the dynamical and thermodynamical processes that contribute to heavy snowfall. A summary of the physical processes that contribute to the storms concludes with issues that remain to be resolved. The case-study approach presents a great deal of material contained in hundreds of synoptic analyses in a well-organized and useful layout, allowing case-by-case comparisons of common features and differences. Extensive tables, diagrams, and photographs show weather patterns at the surface and aloft, emphasizing cyclone tracks and deepening rates, the contributions of cold surface anticyclones, cold-air damming and coastal frontogenesis, upper-level processes, jet streak circulations, satellite imagery, and three-dimensional air flow. It is hoped that this book will provide a foundation for researchers and students interested in investigating the processes that interact to produce major winter storms. The weather patterns described here provide a first step in the generation of conceptual models, and also serve as an easily referenced guide for forecasters concerned with predicting heavy snowfalls along the northeastern coast of the United States.
&>For Introductory Meteorology Science Courses.


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MasteringMeteorology with eText for Understanding Weather and Climate is an online homework, tutorial, and assessment product designed to improve results by helping your students quickly master concepts. The book and MasteringMeteorology work together to create a classroom experience that is tightly integrated to help students succeed both in and outside of the classroom.


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Our ability to observe and forecast severe weather events has improved markedly over the past few decades. Forecasts of snow and ice storms, hurricanes and storm surge, extreme heat, and other severe weather events are made with greater accuracy, geographic specificity, and lead time to allow people and communities to take appropriate protective measures. Yet hazardous weather continues to cause loss of life and result in other preventable social costs.

There is growing recognition that a host of social and behavioral factors affect how we prepare for, observe, predict, respond to, and are impacted by weather hazards. For example, an individual’s response to a severe weather event may depend on their understanding of the forecast, prior experience with severe weather, concerns about their other family members or property, their capacity to take the recommended protective actions, and numerous other factors. Indeed, it is these factors that can determine whether or not a potential hazard becomes an actual disaster. Thus, it is essential to bring to bear expertise in the social and behavioral sciences (SBS)â€"including disciplines such as anthropology, communication, demography, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociologyâ€"to understand how people’s knowledge, experiences, perceptions, and attitudes shape their responses to weather risks and to understand how human cognitive and social dynamics affect the forecast process itself.

Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise explores and provides guidance on the challenges of integrating social and behavioral sciences within the weather enterprise. It assesses current SBS activities, describes the potential value of improved integration of SBS and barriers that impede this integration, develops a research agenda, and identifies infrastructural and institutional arrangements for successfully pursuing SBS-weather research and the transfer of relevant findings to operational settings.

The dramatic events behind the Oscar-winning film, Bridge of Spies, tracing the paths leading to the first and most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West at Berlin's Glienicke Bridge and Checkpoint Charlie on February 10, 1962.

Bridge of Spies is the true story of three extraordinary characters whose fate helped to define the conflicts and lethal undercurrents of the most dangerous years of the Cold War: William Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, a British born KGB agent arrested by the FBI in New York City and jailed as a Soviet superspy for trying to steal America’s most precious nuclear secrets; Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the closed cities of central Russia; and Frederic Pryor, a young American graduate student in Berlin mistakenly identified as a spy, arrested and held without charge by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police. The three men were rescued against daunting odds, and then all but forgotten. Yet they laid bare the pathological mistrust that fueled the arms race for the next 30 years.

Weaving the three strands of this story together for the first time, Giles Whittell masterfully portrays the intense political tensions and nuclear brinkmanship that brought the United States and Soviet Union so close to a hot war in the early 1960s. He reveals the dramatic lives of men drawn into the nadir of the Cold War by duty and curiosity, and the tragicomedy of errors that eventually induced Nikita Khrushchev to send missiles to Fidel Castro.

Drawing on new interviews conducted in the United States, Europe and Russia with key players in the exchange and the events leading to it, among them Frederic Pryor himself and the man who shot down Gary Powers, Bridge of Spies captures a time when the fate of the world really did depend on coded messages on microdots and brave young men in pressure suits. The exchange that frigid day at two of the most sensitive points along the Iron Curtain represented the first step back from where the superpowers had stood since the building of the Berlin Wall the previous summer--on the brink of World War III.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, a great confidence suffused America. Isaac Cline was one of the era's new men, a scientist who believed he knew all there was to know about the motion of clouds and the behavior of storms. The idea that a hurricane could damage the city of Galveston, Texas, where he was based, was to him preposterous, "an absurd delusion." It was 1900, a year when America felt bigger and stronger than ever before. Nothing in nature could hobble the gleaming city of Galveston, then a magical place that seemed destined to become the New York of the Gulf.

That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.

In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.

In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.

Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.
Rain is elemental, mysterious, precious, destructive.
 
It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain.

Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume.

Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.
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