The Dance of Air and Sea: How Oceans, Weather, and Life Link Together

The Dance of Air and Sea: How Oceans, Weather, and Life Link Together

The Dance of Air and Sea: How Oceans, Weather, and Life Link Together

The Dance of Air and Sea: How Oceans, Weather, and Life Link Together

Synopsis

How can the tiny plankton in the sea just off Western Europe be affected by changes 6000 km away on the other side of the North Atlantic Ocean? How can a slight rise in the temperature of the surface of the Pacific Ocean have a devastating impact on amphibian life in Costa Rica? Living populations across the globe are connected by great swayings of the world's atmosphere and oceans, the largest of which is El Nino. For almost half a century, the numbers of some of the smallest animals in the North Sea have gone up and down as the Gulf Stream has moved north and south 4000miles away at the coast of the USA. This connection has happened because the weather patterns over the North Atlantic are intertwined by a phenomenon first described by a Danish missionary in the eighteenth century, the North Atlantic Oscillation. In The Dance of Air and Sea Arnold Taylor focuses on the large-scale dynamics of the world's climate, looking at how the atmosphere and oceans interact, and the ways in which ecosystems in water and on land respond to changes in weather. He tells stories of how discoveries were made, and the scientists who made them; and he considers the crucial issues of how the discoveries aid our response to global warming.

Excerpt

The journey to this book began in August 1990, when a student, Nick Baker, who was assisting me for a few months, constructed the pair of graphs which are reproduced in Fig. 1.1 (at that time the observations ended in 1988). The graphs were updates of a pair I had constructed towards the end of the 1970s at the suggestion of the late Gerry Robinson, so the origin of the book was even earlier. Upon seeing the new graphs, I initiated a search to find out why the changes in two completely different quantities, separated by thousands of miles, should be linked, a search that involved the oceanography and climatology of the North Atlantic, ecology, limnology (the study of lakes), and computer modelling. After the results were published, it became clear to me that there was a popular interest in the topic, for short articles appeared in newspapers and magazines. I was also occasionally asked for radio and television interviews. Even so, the idea of writing a book about the unusual connection didn’t crystallise until a visit to the Devon town of Totnes a few years later.

The ancient borough of Totnes, with a prominent position above the River Dart, is one of Devon’s gems, full of both colour and character that stems from a rich cultural, historical, and archaeological heritage. It is the second oldest borough in England. From the quay, Fore Street rises up past many fine examples of 16th and 17th century merchants’ houses into the centre of the town, passing underneath the East Gate Arch—a splendid Tudor structure. It was in a bookshop on Fore Street, just up from the arch that I developed a plan of the book’s layout. Writing the book took rather longer than I anticipated and had the assistance of a number of people.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.