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Geoscientist Online

Ecological Climatology - concepts and applications

et7oEnvironmental and Engineering Geologists tend to be a very multidisciplinary breed, because our science melds climatology, geology and ecology, at the very least.  These act upon each other in ways which have only recently been taken seriously by students of all three.  Pioneers such as Lovelock understood this, but it has taken a while for the ‘paradigm to drop’. 

Gordon Bonan has written a very comprehensive overview of the wide ranging concepts which comprise the core of the subject , taking 41 chapters to deal with each of the fundamentals underpinning The Earth System, namely Global Physical Climatology, Hydro and Biometeorology, Plant Ecology, Forcings and Feedbacks all leading up to the Coevolution of Climate and Life.

This book is written in a style which is straightforward and easy to understand, but thorough, without reliance upon unnecessary technical jargon.  Even the copious formulae are well explained and the reader is not left wondering what each of the symbols mean.  One is therefore able to delve into the book more or less at will and pick up or revise a subject quickly without needing to do a lot of preparatory reading first.

The writing is aimed at Graduate and Postgraduate level, but assumes little prerequisite technical knowledge; there are interesting and challenging exercises to  build comprehension, the answers to which are on-line along with other resources.

The whole package builds to a very comprehensive and enjoyable treatment of Ecological Climatology; this book would make an ideal course book to support other material or useful for practitioners to dip into as needed.         

Perhaps my only concern relates to the assumed scope; in a recent response to a consultation1 The Geological Society stated that “The geosphere acts as a first-order control on ecosystem services and is inextricably linked to the atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere.  We are concerned that abiotic elements of ecosystems are undervalued in comparison with biotic elements; and that the significance of the geosphere within the wider Earth system, and its interactions with the atmosphere, biosphere and hydrosphere, are not fully recognised.  These aspects are not made explicit in the definition of ecosystem services and need to be.”   Likewise here, I think that an opportunity to draw out that essential point has been missed.

However I can fully recommend this excellent book for anybody who is engaged with understanding how components of earth systems interact, now in the past and in the future. 

Reviewed by Arthur Tingley

ECOLOGICAL CLIMATOLOGY – CONCEPTS & APPLICATIONS (3rd Edn) by Gordon Bonan, Cambridge University Press 2016.  754pp hbk, also sbk and e-book.  ISBN: 9781107043770 List price (hbk) £125.00.

1.     Response by The Geological Society to the Welsh Government - Environment Bill white paper available on the Geological Society Web Site.  [December 2016]