Dedication And Acknowledgments

Many people have assisted in the production of this Handbook—the Contributing Editors, the Authors, our editors at Wiley, friends too numerous to mention, and our families who supported us during the long process of completing this work. Professor Peter Shaffer, University of Washington, is owed deep appreciation for his untiring generosity in sharing his experience and talent to solve many problems associated with this large project. They all deserve much credit for their contributions and we want to express our deep thanks to all of them.

Finally, we want to dedicate this work to Tom Lockhart, the Contributing Editor of the Measurements part of the Handbook. Tom passed away in early 2001 and we regret that he will not be able to see the results of his efforts and those of his colleagues in final form.

Tom Potter and Brad Colman

The Handbook of Weather, Climate, and Water provides an authoritative report at the start of the 21st Century on the state of scientific knowledge in these exciting and important earth sciences. Weather, climate, and water affect every person on earth every day in some way. These effects range from disasters like killer storms and floods, to large economic effects on energy or agriculture, to health effects such as asthma or heat stress, to daily weather changes that affect air travel, construction, fishing fleets, farmers, and mothers selecting the clothes their children will wear that day, to countless other subjects.

During the past two decades a series of environmental events involving weather, climate, and water around the globe have been highly publicized in the press: the Ozone Hole, Acid Rain, Global Climate Change, El Ninos, major floods in Bangladesh, droughts in the Sahara, and severe storms such as hurricane Andrew in Florida and the F5 tornado in Oklahoma. These events have generated much public interest and controversy regarding the appropriate public policies to deal with them. Such decisions depend critically upon scientific knowledge in the fields of weather, climate, and water.

One of two major purposes of the Handbook is to provide an up-to-date accounting of the sciences that underlie these important societal issues, so that both citizens and decision makers can understand the scientific foundation critical to the process of making informed decisions. To achieve this goal, we commissioned overview chapters on the eight major topics that comprise the Handbook: Atmospheric Dynamics, Climate System, Physical Meteorology, Weather Systems, Measurements, Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology, and Societal Impacts. Each of the sections was organized by a distinguished scientist who is a leading authority within that major field. In addition to writing an overview chapter, this scientist served as the Contributing Editor for that section of the Handbook. Each Contributing Editor selected both the topics and authors of the individual chapters, thus ensuring that the most important material has been included. The chapter authors are themselves leading experts in their specialty. These overview chapters present, in terms understandable to everyone, the basic scientific information needed to appreciate the major environmental issues listed above.

The second major purpose of the Handbook is to provide a comprehensive reference volume for scientists who are specialists in the atmospheric and hydrologic areas. In addition, scientists from closely related disciplines and others who wish to get an authoritative scientific accounting of these fields should find this work to be of great value. The 95 professional-level chapters are the first comprehensive and integrated survey of these sciences in over 50 years, the last being completed in 1951 when the American Meteorological Society published the Compendium of Meteorology.

The Handbook of Weather, Climate and Water is organized into two volumes containing eight major sections that encompass the fundamentals and critical topic areas across the atmospheric and hydrologic sciences. This volume contains sections on the highly important topics of Atmospheric Chemistry, Hydrology, and Societal Impacts. The section on Atmospheric Chemistry contains thorough descriptions of the major biogeochemical cycles (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur) that describe how chemical elements and compounds are transferred between the atmosphere, oceans, land and the biosphere, and their relationship to important environmental issues such as global climate change, the ozone hole, acid rain, and air pollution. The Hydrology section includes in-depth discussions of all parts of the hydrologic cycle (rain, snow, evaporation, runoff, ground water, and soil moisture), plus chapters on floods, remote sensing and GIS in hydrology, and stochastic processes in hydrology. Societal Impacts has chapters on the social effects of all of the major environmental issues.

To better protect against weather, climate, and water hazards, as well as to promote the positive benefits of utilizing more accurate information about these natural events, society needs improved predictions of them. To achieve this, scientists must have a better understanding of the entire atmospheric and hydrologic system. Major advances have been made during the past 50 years to better understand the complex sciences involved. These scientific advances, together with vastly improved technologies such as Doppler radar, new satellite capabilities, numerical methods and computing, have resulted in greatly improved prediction capabilities over the past decade. Major storms are rarely missed nowadays because of the capability of numerical weather-prediction models to more effectively use the data from satellites, radars and surface observations, and weather forecasters' improved understanding of threatening weather systems. Improvements in predictions are ongoing. The public can now rely on the accuracy of forecasts out to about five days, when only a decade or so ago forecasts were accurate to only a day or two. Similarly, large advances have been made in understanding the climate system during the past 20 years. Climate forecasts out to a year are now made routinely and users in many fields find economic advantages in these climate outlooks even with the current marginal accuracies, which no doubt will improve as advances in our understanding of the Climate System occur in future years.

Tom Potter and Brad Colman

Color images from this volume are available at

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