presented at the 10th Conference on Applied Climatology in Reno, Nevada, 19-23 October 1997
Bart Geerts, Embry-Riddle University, Prescott, AZ
Edward Linacre, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
A new textbook for both introductory and more advanced undergraduate courses on climatology and meteorology has unusual features, including an attractive method of publishing new ideas or research summaries in the broad area of atmospheric sciences. In several ways the book Climates and Weather Explained (Linacre and Geerts 1997) is comparable with existing introductory climatology textbooks (e.g. Barry and Chorley 1992), being an up-to-date, systematic and easy-to-read survey of the subject, almost without mathematics. In addition, there is more than customary emphasis on meteorological processes, on the integration of meteorology and climatology, on real-life applications, and on the southern hemisphere. However, what is really novel about this new book is that it is associated with a CD-ROM and a web site. This combination has several advantages.
First, the CD has numerous Notes, to fill out and deepen the understanding of matters mentioned in the book. Examples of the Notes are listed in Table 1, with lengths ranging from less than 100 words to over 3,000. They give illustrations, applications, or a more physical treatment. The book has a mere 4 equations, whereas the CD has over 100 of them. Some Notes are for the slightly more advanced student. Unlike the book, the Notes are designed as a reference resource, not as a logical sequence of thoughts.
Second, the CD-ROM also accommodates considerable supplementary material, detailed below. Third, the web site provides the opportunity for climatologists and meteorologists to publish suitable additional Notes promptly and without cost, for the benefit of readers worldwide.
The need for a new textbook arose from the realization that an earlier publication, The Australian Climatic Environment (Linacre and Hobbs, 1977), had become outdated, and was focused on only a single continent. Consequently, four years were spent in compiling a completely new book, the result being a manuscript too large for a conveniently sized text. That was despite severe pruning and cutting out overlap with another book Climate Data & Resources (Linacre, 1992), a companion book dealing with the use of weather-station measurements. The problem was solved by dividing the text into two parts of comparable size: i) a descriptive exposition of the subject in 16 chapters, with ample illustrations and tables, and ii) about 170 Notes, giving students further detail on points in each chapter, along with any necessary simple mathematics. The first part provides a normal printed book, the second part is on a CD-ROM, and consists mainly of the Notes. Each Note amplifies a point in the relevant chapter in the book and is mentioned there. Thus the book serves as a thread linking the various individual Notes.
3. THE CD-ROM
One advantage of putting discrete material such as Notes onto CD is that items there can be hyperlinked, so that readers can easily find all relevant material. On the other hand, the printed book is essential in order to introduce distinct subjects and processes in a logical sequence and to explain the relationships between various components, resulting in a better understanding of the atmosphere as a whole.
A CD has a huge capacity (e.g. 650 Mb), so it can easily accommodate, in addition to the Notes, a gallery of color photos, a glossary of 590 items, a list of almost 2,000 references, a summary of each chapter's key concepts, reading lists, multiple choice tests for students' self-evaluation, numerical exercises (with answers), and suitable essay questions. We see such a Student's CD-ROM as integrated with the textbook, offering further information (often more advanced), and facilitating self-tuition.
As a sequel, the Publisher has prepared a special Instructor's CD-ROM, designed for teachers of climatology and meteorology. This version contains the entire contents of the printed textbook, thoroughly hyperlinked with the Notes and other material on the Student's CD, along with suggestions on the teaching of particular topics, descriptions of instructive experiments, and recommendations on marking. The Instructor’s CD is equivalent to nearly 1000 pages of text and allows easy incorporation of material into lectures, lab sessions and tests.
4. PROPOSED COLLABORATION
Bearing all this in mind, the idea is now proposed that the authors build an online resource for Climates and Weather Explained, to which anyone can contribute. Readers can send in fresh ideas, surveys, or summaries of recent research in any area that bears relevance to the topics covered in the book. Suitable material would be in the form of a brief, self-contained article (called 'shorticle') aimed at undergraduate students. Submissions should be of the same high standard and in the same format as those to peer-reviewed journals, only the size and the level of sophistication are less. Graphical material and links to existing web sites are welcome. The book's authors would undertake the editing of selected material in a style roughly similar to the Notes on the CD, possibly ask for a review of the Note by experts in the field, organize the references and add in cross-references to the book and CD. Contributing readers will receive prominent attribution.
Suitable 'shorticles' provided in this way will be posted on a web site, moderated by the authors. It can be accessed without restrictions, either via the WWW link icon on the CD-ROM, or directly from the Publishers’ site. The web site also contains a long list of up-to-date links to worldwide weather and climate information, organized geographically and by subject. The outcome of this cooperative enterprise would be an on-line resource, of increasing value to teachers and students of the subject. In the meantime, use of the web site allows prompt and free publishing of attributed isolated nuggets of information, in a way that is not random but coordinated by the book.
The authors would welcome comments on this proposal.
Barry, R.G. and R.J. Chorley, 1992: Atmosphere, Weather and Climate. Routledge, 6th Ed., 392 pp.
Linacre, E.T., 1992: Climate Data & Resources. Routledge, 366pp.
--------- and J.E. Hobbs, 1977: The Australian Climatic Environment. Jacaranda Wiley, 354pp.
--------- and B. Geerts, 1997: Climates and Weather Explained, an Introduction. Routledge, 421pp plus CD-ROM.
Chapter 3. Temperature
Chapter 12. Global winds
Titles of Sections in the textbook for this Chapter
3.1 Temperature measurement
3.2 Screen temperatures
3.3 Seasonal changes
3.4 Daily changes
3.5 Ground temperatures
3.7 Urban temperatures
12.1 Global surface winds
12.2 Factors governing global winds
12.3 Circulations within the atmosphere
12.4 The upper westerlies
12.5 Jet streams
12.6 Models of the general circulation
Titles of Notes on the CD-ROM for this Chapter
3.A The transfer of sensible heat
3.B Effects of latitude and elevation on mean temperature
3.C High temperatures and human mortality
3.D Acclimatisation and adaptation
3.F Temperature and crops
3.G The annual range of monthly mean temperatures
3.H Cold nights
3.I Growing-degree-days andagriculture
3.J Degree-days and comfort
3.K The conduction of heat
3.L The thermal belt
12.B Trade winds
12.C The geostrophic wind and isobaric surfaces
12.D The gradient wind
12.F Thermal wind
12.G Convergence, divergence and vertical circulations
12.H Baroclinic and barotropic conditions
12.I Balloon flight across Australia
12.J Rossby waves
12.L Jet streams and weather
12.M Clear Air Turbulence
12.N El Niño, part 3
Table 1: Titles of textbook Sections and CD Notes for two arbitrarily selected Chapters in Linacre and Geerts (1997)