This is my fifth review of an edition of A World of Weather: Fundamentals of Meteorology written by Lee M. Grenci and Jon M. Nese, and I am happy to say the volume still improves with age. It is designed for a textbook and laboratory manual for the post-secondary level, but its easy reading style and broad use of analogy/metaphor also make it the perfect book for anyone with high school science wanting to learn more about weather.
The authors treat the readers as apprentice meteorologists and thus include a number of exercises to do along with the written material. The accompanying CD-ROM compiled by David Babb adds materials through animations and movies not easily presented in the book format. In reviewing the third edition, I had lamented the folding in of the material on Winter weather, which had been a stand-alone chapter in the second edition, into other chapters. Well, the authors heard my lament and reintroduced the chapter in the fourth edition. A number of chapters (9, 14, 15, 18) have been significantly updated including introducing the rather new Enhanced Fujita Scale for tornado damage. According to the author's "Of all the updates and changes the authors implemented for the Fifth Edition, the presentation of organized systems of thunderstorms in Chapter 14 is most noteworthy."
Authors Grenci and Nese have a very definite goal in mind for this book. In their Preface words (whose full text may be found at World of Weather Preface):
"Fundamentally, we want students to be good weather consumers. They will be bombarded by all types of weather information throughout their lives via television, the Internet, radio and the written word. Some of it will be scientifically accurate; some of it will be fuzzy and misleading. In order to discriminate between accurate and misleading information, students will need to retain what they learned about basic meteorology."
The style of A World of Weather light and replete with allusions, plays on words and unashamed humour is a refreshing departure from more traditional text books. Grenci and Nese succeeded in making this the best text book I have ever read on any subject (including the Feynman Lectures on Physics) and have not lost that honour with the fifth edition. In fact, if I have to recommend only one general book on meteorology for introductory class use or general reading, I recommend A World of Weather.
Each of the 18 chapters contains an introduction, a sidebar focus essay on an atmospheric optical phenomenon or weather folklore, the main discussion and a series of laboratory exercises and chapter review questions. One change with Chapter 17 which explores numerical weather prediction is that it is now an online chapter "so that the authors can include current hyperlinks to Web sites that contain computer forecasts.". This book not only teaches the basic concepts of meteorology, but it also applies these concepts with many interesting hands-on laboratory exercises (remember it is also a lab manual), thus promoting a deeper understanding of how the atmosphere works. The only drawback with the exercises is that the answers are not available to the home reader.
I rate A World of Weather as the best overall, and most understandable, discussions on weather/meteorology I have ever read. The writing is a treat to read, particularly for a textbook, and that is one reason I recommend it to anyone looking for an introductory book on meteorology/weather, particular if you are interested in weather forecasting and mid-latitude weather systems.
The authors continue to succeed in their stated goal expressed in the Second Edition:
"We have written this book with the aim that students do not merely go sight-seeing along the superhighway of meteorology. Rather, we hope that students become real travelers, willing to detour off the beaten path and to actively seek new adventures that will broaden their appreciation and understanding of how the atmosphere works."
My sincerest congratulations to the authors for another well-done edition of A World of Weather.
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