From the glaciers of the Alps to the towering cumulonimbus clouds of the Caribbean and the unexpectedly chaotic flows of the North Atlantic, Waters of the World is a tour through 150 years of the history of a significant but underappreciated idea: that the Earth has a global climate system made up of interconnected parts, constantly changing on all scales of both time and space.
... eight detailed, immensely readable essays ... dramatic storytelling and also brings out a secondary theme: the tension between objective research and subjective response—the restless curiosity and passionate sense of wonder that so often drives those who study the natural world ... One of the fascinating aspects of Dry’s account is the way that surprise results prompt new questions and new directions ... Dry’s clear scientific explanations are matched by a lyrical evocation of natural phenomena, but although she tells her linked stories with verve and wit, she never falls into the trap of presenting her subjects as lone heroes. Instead she shows how their work was bolstered by that of other researchers, by advances in different fields, by developing technologies, and by funding and institutional support ... Dry is rightly wary of presenting scientific advance as simple progress, a straight line between two points. People belong to their time ... Dry looks beneath her subjects’ masks with sympathy and curiosity. Noting their shared sense of a quest, at once playful and serious
... smart, compelling, and timely ... By focusing on specific scientists, Dry gifts readers with entertaining portraits of some thoroughly interesting if largely unknown individuals ... Driven by determined curiosity, Dry discovers the conventional and the controversial, the dedicated and the somewhat outrageous on her archival hunts. Along the way, she dips into the social and economic consequences of ignoring climate science while also delighting readers with insights into her subjects gained from their diaries, letters, and other sources. Make no mistake, in the midst of discussing Gerould’s navigation of love and science and Charles Piazzi Smyth’s 'almost lunatic attempt to record the face of the skies alone,' Dry shows how an artful blending of the personal and professional can result in unusually affecting scientific profiles. A true success on every literary level.
The author’s lyrical discussion of Charles Piazzi Smyth, one of the first to study clouds deeply, brings in both literary and historical allusions ... Near the end of the book is a fascinating look at meteorologist France Bretherton’s now famous social process diagram of systems underpinning human influence on global climate change ... Characterized by strong storytelling within a scholarly framework, this book will appeal to readers interested in how science is performed and accomplished, and anyone curious about Earth’s changing climate.