This book is intended to be useful, interesting and easily understood by means of four features -

  1. It deals primarily with general principles, applicable anywhere in the world. They are explained in a straightforward text with 264 drawings and 63 tables, suitable for a beginner in this field of study. This is supplemented by 171 separate notes, 31 more drawings and 16 tables, containing material for the teacher and more advanced student, all on a disk supplied with the hardback version of the book. The disk also includes recommendations of further reading, essay questions, numerical exercises (with answers) for the student, suggestions for teachers of the subject, descriptions of simple experiments, and a full list of the literature used in writing the book. Students who have the softback version can easily obtain a copy of the disk material from a teacher who has a hardback book.

  2. We have tried to integrate meteorology and climatology to an extent that is unusual for a textbook, though increasingly common in practice. This integration makes the book interdisciplinary, yet detailed enough to be of value to introductory courses in either discipline. The scope of the book provides a more scientific approach than geography students normally follow, and a broader relevance than meteorology students usually experience. In its interdisciplinary approach, the book further contributes to the breaking down of the gap between the 'exact' and 'social' sciences, and between sciences and the applied world.

  3. The book contains numerous cases of the relevance of weather and climate to ordinary life. These include agriculture, droughts, housing, human comfort and newly important subjects like skin cancer, climate change, and the effects of temperature on mortality.

  4. The examples are taken from the southern hemisphere, to complement other text-books, which almost all concentrate on the northern half of the world. The south has no equal to the huge Eurasian and North American landmasses. On the other hand, the greater area of ocean in the south leads to more evaporation and less variable temperatures, and the huge southern Pacific ocean is the scene of El Niño episodes. Also, synoptic weather patterns are smaller and more mobile, and there is less air pollution on the whole than in the northern hemisphere. The Antarctic continent is more extensive and elevated than the Arctic, so the South Pole is far colder, which indirectly explains why the ozone over the Antarctic vanishes each spring. Related to this are the powerful winds blowing from west to east across the southern oceans. Another difference concerns the motions of oceans and winds; they circulate in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere. This applies to circulations in entire ocean basins, as well as to fronts, tropical cyclones, sea breezes, even thunderstorms. In brief, southern hemisphere weather and climate are quite distinct, though few textbooks deal with this.