“With wit and a humbling sense of wonder, this is a book that can be shared and appreciated by a wide audience who now religiously check their phones for daily forecasts.” — Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“This terrific, accessible, and exciting read helps us to better understand the aspects of weather and the atmosphere all around us.” —Library Journal Starred Review
We live at the bottom of an ocean of air — 5,200 million million tons, to be exact. It sounds like a lot, but Earth’s atmosphere is smeared onto its surface in an alarmingly thin layer — 99 percent contained within 18 miles. Yet, within this fragile margin lies a magnificent realm — at once gorgeous, terrifying, capricious, and elusive. With his keen eye for identifying and uniting seemingly unrelated events, Chris Dewdney reveals to us the invisible rivers in the sky that affect how our weather works and the structure of clouds and storms and seasons, the rollercoaster of climate. Dewdney details the history of weather forecasting and introduces us to the eccentric and determined pioneers of science and observation whose efforts gave us the understanding of weather we have today.
18 Miles is a kaleidoscopic and fact-filled journey that uncovers our obsession with the atmosphere and weather — as both evocative metaphor and physical reality. From the roaring winds of Katrina to the frozen oceans of Snowball Earth, Dewdney entertains as he gives readers a long overdue look at the very air we breathe.
A prolific poet and essayist, Dewdney (Soul of the World) takes an entertaining and informative look at something everyone talks about but few truly understand: weather. Equal parts science, historical journey, and whimsical reflection that traces to Dewdney's childhood fascination with meteorology, this book marks an accessible and enjoyable entry into a field more often characterized by dry, uninspired texts. Divided into sections detailing the elements that create clouds, wind, rain, and severe storms, the book quotes a wide range of figures, from Aristotle to Rodney Dangerfield, to illustrate the human fascination with a phenomenon that determines everything from what people put on in the morning to how cities are designed. Dewdney's expert distillation of the mathematics and physics of weather forecasting and his exciting chronology of weather-related inventions are matched by a generous use of quotations from philosophers and poets evoking sensations inspired by the seasons. With wit and a humbling sense of wonder, this is a book that can be shared and appreciated by a wide audience who now religiously check their phones for daily forecasts.