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Extratropical circulation indices in the Southern Hemisphere based on station data

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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY
Int. J. Climatol. 19: 1279 (1999)
BOOK REVIEW
TROPICAL CLIMATOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO
THE CLIMATES OF THE LOW LATITUDES (Second
edition), Glenn R. McGregor and Simon Nieuwolt, John
Wiley & Sons (Chichester), 1998. No. of pages xii+ 339 pp.
Price �.00, ISBN 0-471-96610-X (hardback); �.99, 0-47196611-8 (paperback).
Fifty percent of the surface of the globe lies between the
latitudes 30癗 and 30癝, and over a third of the world?s
human population inhabits tropical lands. Ever since the
hither-to assumed simplicity of the tropical weather and climate was dispelled some years before the Second World War,
rapid strides have been made in collecting numerous observational data and conducting theoretical/experimental investigations, which have accumulated a wealth of information on the
tropical climate. This information has brought to the fore the
great complexity of the tropical general circulation of the
atmosphere/oceans, and its critical role in shaping the global
weather and climate, offering some of the most challenging
problems for scientific pursuit. In this context, despite the
growing need for climatology books dealing exclusively with
the tropics, there are only a few that fall into this category.
The first edition of Tropical Climatology by S. Nieuwolt way
back in 1977 was one of the very few successful attempts in
dealing with this topic. Later, over the past couple of decades,
progress in understanding the tropical atmospheric processes
and the nature of tropical climate on a variety of space and
time scales gained rapid momentum, mainly due to advances
in computers, numerical modelling, satellites and observational
techniques. For example, we now have a clearer idea of the
intra-seasonal oscillations, inter-tropical convergence zone, El
Nino and Southern Oscillation (ENSO), seasonal circulation
systems like the monsoons, etc. However, most of these details
are still in the confines of specialized journals and reports.
Therefore, this second edition of Tropical Climatology comes
at the most appropriate time, to incorporate the updated
knowledge on tropical climate. This edition is lead by a new
co-author Glenn R. McGregor and is dedicated to the memory
of the other co-author Simon Nieuwolt, who unfortunately
passed away during the preparation of the manuscript. The
authors have made a conscious attempt to completely overhaul
the first edition to incorporate the latest information on the
topics covered and one can easily notice a definite improvement in the presentation style. However, as the authors emphasize, the fundamental aims of providing a geographical
viewpoint on the various aspects of the tropical atmosphere
remain unchanged.
CCC 0899?8418/99/111279 ? 01$17.50
Copyright � 1999 Royal Meteorological Society
The book is organized in 11 chapters; most of the chapters
in the first edition have gone through major rewriting and
three new chapters have been added in the current edition. I
find the new chapters very interesting and most appropriate to
reflect contemporary trends in the field ? these are Chapter 2
on the fundamental laws of weather and climate, Chapter 6 on
non-seasonal variations in the tropical circulation (including
quasi-biennial oscillation, the 40 ? 50 day oscillation, ENSO
and diurnal variations) and Chapter 13 on climate change and
its implications for the tropics. Particularly noteworthy is the
authors? thoughtful decision to present physical laws in the
form of ?word equations? to enable the less mathematically
inclined to appreciate them easily. Considerable new material
has been added to the chapters on the general circulation of
the tropics, seasonal variations of regional circulation systems
and tropical disturbances. The general climatology topics of
insolation, temperature, water in the tropical atmosphere and
tropical precipitation have been expanded with additional
material on radiation and energy balances, urban climates,
evaporation, humidity, tropical clouds and climate, satellite
cloud climatology and interannual variability of rainfall and
drought. A detailed treatise has been given to tropical climates
(Chapter 11) by providing a general survey of the various
tropical climates of the world. A brief chapter on tropical
climates and agriculture makes the point about the critical
climatic dependence of economic and social activities in the
tropics.
I would have liked to see more material on the interannual
variability and predictability of tropical precipitation (in particular, the Asian monsoon precipitation). A considerable
amount of work is available on this topic in the scientific
literature, especially for the Asian summer monsoon. Also, it
appears that the authors have derived much of the material on
climate change from IPCC reports which generally have a
global context. A close focus on specific target areas in the
tropics would have made this topic more interesting.
That said, the book is an indispensable source of information on tropical climates to both technical and non-technical
students and researchers in geography, environmental sciences
and related disciplines. The book also provides an updated
reference list which could prove to be quite useful for researchers dealing with tropical climates.
K. RUPA KUMAR
Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology
Pune 411 008, India
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