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Earth's Climate: Past and Future [Paperback]

William F. Ruddiman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 72.26 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 Mar 2001
"Earth's Climate: Past and Future" works as either a nonmajors introduction to Earth system science or climate change, or as a majors/graduate-level overview of the processes and techniques in climate science. Written from a multidisciplinary perspective by a researcher/instructor in the field, the text summarizes the major lessons to be learned from 550 million years of climate changes, as a way of evaluating the climatological impact on and by humans in this century. The book also looks ahead to possible effects during the next several centuries of fossil fuel use.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd (9 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716737418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716737414
  • Product Dimensions: 27.3 x 21.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 571,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

William F. Ruddiman, University of Virginia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Earth's Climate: A Rave Review! 15 Oct 2002
By A Customer
In Earth's Climate, William Ruddiman has described in detail a very wide range of factors that have influenced climate changes over a range of scales in geological history, and which will continue to have an effect on global climates into the future. The book is excellently presented, and is one of the most comprehensive on these topics I have seen. Many of the images from the text, along with other resources, are available on a CD-ROM that accompanies the book, and also on a website for fno charge. The author highlights a number of further references for each topic, generally articles and books which are seminal to the field. He also uses boxes highlighting key terms, interactions with other book sections and review questions, all of which combine to give the reader a thorought understanding of the main issues, and the opportunity to research further any points of major interest. The book would be to use to university members from undergraduate to post-doctoral level and beyond, and is both an excellent teaching and learning aid. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone in the very broad field of climate dynamics.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A long-awaited textbook...... 17 May 2002
By Dario Ventra - Published on Amazon.com
I read this book twice, and wished I had had something like this available to me a few years ago, when I started venturing out into the unnumbered feedback loops, geochemical vagaries and regional idiosyncracies of Quaternary paleoclimatology, trying to form a general picture of it all. But this text isn't just about the Quaternary, mind you, this is a complete introduction to the main issues in Earth's climatology.
That it's mainly PALEOclimatology is unavoidable, since in my opinion "present climatology" is like a nonsense... Climate is an averaged evaluation of regional or global meteorological parameters through time, and the "present" is always too short for such an evaluation. Insight on climate evolution is only gained looking back in time, and projecting our analyses to an immediate future, so it's a science strictly dependent on timescales and perspectives... What we can tentatively tell about our climatic future is still too uncertain, but what was in the past is still available to inform and inspire us to further research, that's why Ruddiman's work is mainly about understanding what happened in the past...
My cheap philosophy aside, I think the author's aim was to introduce the subject from the basics, at a simplified level, in order to teach what kind of processes and interactions are involved in determining Earth's climate and its variability, without having inexperienced readers bogged down into technicalities of all sorts and all together (the necessary way of scientific articles delving deeper into any one very specific topic!). Hypotheses, problems and events are introduced gradually, with a captivating detective-like style, and the telescopic time-perspective (from longer geotectonic time-scales all the way down to centennial and decadal patterns and phenomena, dutifully lingering upon the Milankovic pacemaker) is just what's needed to have the right feeling brought home to students of how the Earth system evolves..
Details of this and that research threads are omitted to aid understanding of the general picture. Bibliographic references provide other information sources for those interested in more..
My own perplexity is on the second chapter: I doubt that such a quick overview of the workings of atmosphere and oceans is enough for those students that never touched any textbooks of meteorology or oceanography. A chapter twice as long would be more informative, I guess making those processes clearer at the outset of the journey would make several students more confident and help them grasp more of what will follow. I know the book is bulky enough already, but more pages and explanations need to be added to the second chapter for teaching's sake...
I have to disagree with the previous reviewer's negativity.. This is an introductory textbook, if any (paleo)climatologist's views had to be included, an encyclopedia would hardly be enough room for all of them!! The last two chapters, on global warming and future climate variability, are the best example of Ruddiman's balance and caution in explaining hypotheses, alternatives, possible fallacies and biases of sorts. As to the reviewer's question, "Who couldn't get a five-star rating discussing climate change and global warming with such a leitmotif?", I invite him to read my review of W.J.Burroughs' "Climate Change: a Multidisciplinary Approach" on the Amazon.co.uk website...
I really hope to see a second edition of Ruddiman's work in the next years, when times will be ripe for exciting updates and more hypotheses to tell...
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction of complex processes. 22 Jan 2006
By Jacquelyn Gill - Published on Amazon.com
This textbook was assigned for a mid-level course on climatic environments of the past, with a focus on the Quaternary Period. As a graduate student with an ecology undergraduate degree currently studying Quaternary vegetation dynamics, I found this to be an excellent introduction for those without a background in climatology while still having a lot to offer more advanced students.

The book itself does not focus merely on the Quaternary, but on the general climatic history of the earth and the dynamic processes that govern it. Ruddiman gives a full treatment of the various scales of variability (tectonic-scale, orbital-scale, millenial, and finally historical and future). He includes a thorough treatment of various paleoclimate proxy methods, the processes of internal and external climate forcing, and gives a geological context for the current trends in climate change.

One of the most valuable aspects of this textbook are the excellent illustrations, which are concise and consistent throughout. These graphics make a variety of potentially confusing or complex processes seem much simpler and more approachable, and are superior to other treatments of the same topics I've seen in other textbooks. Each chapter has suggestions for additional readings, key terms, and review questions, making this an excellent resource for students.

The work is comparatively up-to-date, and includes current issues and debates in paleoclimate studies as well as references to various contemporary projects, groups, and researchers. The writing style is succinct and clear, and follows an intuitive progression. More advanced students will find it easy to find the information they need without slogging through elementary readings. All in all this is an excellent reference for anyone interested in studying climate dynamics in order to understand current trends. Beginning or advanced students, professionals looking to expand their range of knowledge, and the serious inquirer with an advanced high school background in physical science will all find something valuable in this text. My only wish is that the book, now five years old, be updated to include the most recent advanvements in the field.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book on Paleoclimatology! 3 April 2008
By Scott A. Mandia - Published on Amazon.com
I am a community college professor who uses this text. The course is designed for non-science majors who need a lab science elective to satisfy their liberal arts degree. The climate course that I teach is a paleoclimatology course which is primarily about the forces that have caused climate and climate change over the past 300 million years. My course differs from the more traditional method of teaching climate (typically an "atmospheric science" course for the first half of the course followed by some climate change materials in the second half.)

The Ruddiman book is outstanding and I will highlight the pros and cons below but the pros greatly outweigh the cons:

1) Extremely well-written
2) Ruddiman uses the scientific method to build his topics. He begins with a hypothesis, explores the data, and then discusses if the hypothesis is valid or not. I love this style because it shows students how scientists approach problems and possible solutions.
3) Superb illustrations

1) Really a two-semester text. There is no way that students can do more than 10-12 chapters per semester.
2) Although appropriate for college-level, this text will read at a higher level than other books typically used in non-majors courses.

Bottom line: this is simply the best climate book I have reviewed to date for community college non-major students and I have reviewed many over the last 20 years.

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore any low reviews 10 Jan 2010
By Lamont Granquist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I expect that this book over time will collect a bunch of 1-star and 2-star reviews from reviewers who mostly have political objections to the content in the book.

The book itself is a good undergraduate-level introduction to climate science, and should be read by anyone who want to understand how climate science has evolved, and what the current state of knowledge is. It is going to be much more accessible to a scientifically-oriented layman than some of the graduate level texts. If you've been reading about climate issues on the web, and want an introduction to the science, this will be an invaluable to transition from reading about climate on the web to getting closer to the science itself. Even if you have political issues with climate science, this book lays out the basics of the actual scientific arguments and presents what is known and does a good job at presenting the certainty with which it is known. If we could have arguments about climate based on the content of this book, rather than whatever someone thinks Al Gore says, it would move forwards the entire debate over climate science.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 30 May 2014
By Earful Silence - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to have a solid understanding of past climates. It is thorough and engaging. Although designed (presumably) for college students, I enjoyed reading it as faculty, to deepen my understanding of the factors that control climate variability -- especially plate tectonics and associated chemistry. Many textbooks shy away from all the chemistry involved in climate variations. Ruddiman does it all, and does it well.
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