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To better understand our climate system, it is important that we have climate data records (CDRs)--time series of measurements of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity to determine climate variability and change--that possess the accuracy, longevity, and stability to facilitate credible climate monitoring. In 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) published Climate Data Records from Environmental Satellites to provide the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with initial guidelines on how to develop and implement an effective CDR program. NOAA used this book to draft a plan for a new Scientific Data Stewardship (SDS) program, and then asked NRC to review it. The new program will be responsible for processing, archiving, and distributing observations from satellite and supporting ground-based platforms for monitoring, diagnosing, understanding, predicting, modeling, and assessing climate variation and change. The NRC review outlines several ways in which to improve NOAA's draft plan, most importantly by clarifying advisory mechanisms, providing more detail about how NOAA will coordinate with important partners in generating CDRs, articulating how the program will prioritize its activities, and developing ways to realistically project future costs. However, the draft plan is sound overall and NOAA should immediately begin implementing the SDS program while revising the plan as recommended in the book.
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National Academies Press
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Aug 16, 2005
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Science / Earth Sciences / General
Science / Earth Sciences / Meteorology & Climatology
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Scientific evidence shows that most glaciers in South Asia's Hindu Kush Himalayan region are retreating, but the consequences for the region's water supply are unclear, this report finds. The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is the location of several of Asia's great river systems, which provide water for drinking, irrigation, and other uses for about 1.5 billion people. Recent studies show that at lower elevations, glacial retreat is unlikely to cause significant changes in water availability over the next several decades, but other factors, including groundwater depletion and increasing human water use, could have a greater impact. Higher elevation areas could experience altered water flow in some river basins if current rates of glacial retreat continue, but shifts in the location, intensity, and variability of rain and snow due to climate change will likely have a greater impact on regional water supplies.

Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security makes recommendations and sets guidelines for the future of climate change and water security in the Himalayan Region. This report emphasizes that social changes, such as changing patterns of water use and water management decisions, are likely to have at least as much of an impact on water demand as environmental factors do on water supply. Water scarcity will likely affect the rural and urban poor most severely, as these groups have the least capacity to move to new locations as needed. It is predicted that the region will become increasingly urbanized as cities expand to absorb migrants in search of economic opportunities. As living standards and populations rise, water use will likely increase-for example, as more people have diets rich in meat, more water will be needed for agricultural use. The effects of future climate change could further exacerbate water stress.

Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security explains that changes in the availability of water resources could play an increasing role in political tensions, especially if existing water management institutions do not better account for the social, economic, and ecological complexities of the region. To effectively respond to the effects of climate change, water management systems will need to take into account the social, economic, and ecological complexities of the region. This means it will be important to expand research and monitoring programs to gather more detailed, consistent, and accurate data on demographics, water supply, demand, and scarcity.
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.

From the Hardcover edition.
Weather radar is a vital instrument for observing the atmosphere to help provide weather forecasts and issue weather warnings to the public. The current Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) system provides Doppler radar coverage to most regions of the United States (NRC, 1995). This network was designed in the mid 1980s and deployed in the 1990s as part of the National Weather Service (NWS) modernization (NRC, 1999). Since the initial design phase of the NEXRAD program, considerable advances have been made in radar technologies and in the use of weather radar for monitoring and prediction. The development of new technologies provides the motivation for appraising the status of the current weather radar system and identifying the most promising approaches for the development of its eventual replacement.

The charge to the committee was to determine the state of knowledge regarding ground-based weather surveillance radar technology and identify the most promising approaches for the design of the replacement for the present Doppler Weather Radar. This report presents a first look at potential approaches for future upgrades to or replacements of the current weather radar system. The need, and schedule, for replacing the current system has not been established, but the committee used the briefings and deliberations to assess how the current system satisfies the current and emerging needs of the operational and research communities and identified potential system upgrades for providing improved weather forecasts and warnings. The time scale for any total replacement of the system (20- to 30-year time horizon) precluded detailed investigation of the designs and cost structures associated with any new weather radar system. The committee instead noted technologies that could provide improvements over the capabilities of the evolving NEXRAD system and recommends more detailed investigation and evaluation of several of these technologies. In the course of its deliberations, the committee developed a sense that the processes by which the eventual replacement radar system is developed and deployed could be as significant as the specific technologies adopted. Consequently, some of the committee's recommendations deal with such procedural issues.

Americans agree that our students urgently need better science education. But what should they be expected to know and be able to do? Can the same expectations be applied across our diverse society?

These and other fundamental issues are addressed in National Science Education Standards--a landmark development effort that reflects the contributions of thousands of teachers, scientists, science educators, and other experts across the country.

The National Science Education Standards offer a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate, describing what all students regardless of background or circumstance should understand and be able to do at different grade levels in various science categories.

The standards address:

The exemplary practice of science teaching that provides students with experiences that enable them to achieve scientific literacy. Criteria for assessing and analyzing students' attainments in science and the learning opportunities that school science programs afford. The nature and design of the school and district science program. The support and resources needed for students to learn science.

These standards reflect the principles that learning science is an inquiry-based process, that science in schools should reflect the intellectual traditions of contemporary science, and that all Americans have a role in improving science education.

This document will be invaluable to education policymakers, school system administrators, teacher educators, individual teachers, and concerned parents.

Scenes of starvation have drawn the world's attention to Africa's agricultural and environmental crisis. Some observers question whether this continent can ever hope to feed its growing population. Yet there is an overlooked food resource in sub-Saharan Africa that has vast potential: native food plants.
When experts were asked to nominate African food plants for inclusion in a new book, a list of 30 species grew quickly to hundreds. All in all, Africa has more than 2,000 native grains and fruits--"lost" species due for rediscovery and exploitation.
This volume focuses on native cereals, including
African rice, reserved until recently as a luxury food for religious rituals. Finger millet, neglected internationally although it is a staple for millions. Fonio (acha), probably the oldest African cereal and sometimes called "hungry rice." Pearl millet, a widely used grain that still holds great untapped potential. Sorghum, with prospects for making the twenty-first century the "century of sorghum." Tef, in many ways ideal but only now enjoying budding commercial production. Other cultivated and wild grains.

This readable and engaging book dispels myths, often based on Western bias, about the nutritional value, flavor, and yield of these African grains.
Designed as a tool for economic development, the volume is organized with increasing levels of detail to meet the needs of both lay and professional readers. The authors present the available information on where and how each grain is grown, harvested, and processed, and they list its benefits and limitations as a food source.
The authors describe "next steps" for increasing the use of each grain, outline research needs, and address issues in building commercial production.
Sidebars cover such interesting points as the potential use of gene mapping and other "high-tech" agricultural techniques on these grains.
This fact-filled volume will be of great interest to agricultural experts, entrepreneurs, researchers, and individuals concerned about restoring food production, environmental health, and economic opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Selection, Newbridge Garden Book Club

The return of the once-dormant economies of China and India to dynamism and growth is one of the most remarkable stories in recent history. The two countries are home to nearly 40 percent of the world's population, but until recently neither had played an influential role in the contemporary global economy.

In the past two decades, China and India have liberalized internal economic policy, treatment of foreign investment, and trade, and have experienced economic growth at sustained high rates. From the point of view of the United States, however, the most important development in the Chinese and Indian economies in the long term may be the strides they are making in developing their own domestic innovation capacities. After a long period of underinvestment, both countries have committed to growing their science and education systems to bolster research and further economic expansion.

Some observers of the recent growth have said that both countries are surging in their efforts to spur innovation; others have emphasized the potential of one country over the other; and still others have suggested that both China and India have a long way to go before achieving innovation-driven growth. With such a range of views, The National Academies set out to describe developments in both countries, in relation to each other and the rest of the world, by organizing a conference in Washington, D.C. The conference, summarized in this volume, discussed recent changes at both the macroeconomic level and also in selected industries, and explored the causes and implications of those changes.
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