Publisher: Pearson Date of Publication: 2005
Price: ISBN: 0131451391
Pages: xxix + 611 Format: Hardback

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1 - Introduction to Earth; 2- Portraying Earth; 3 - Introduction to the atmosphere; 4- Insolation and temperature; 5 - Atmospheric pressure and wind; 6 - Atmospheric moisture; 7 - Transient atmospheric flows and disturbances; 8 - Climatic zones and types; 9 - The hydrosphere; 10 - Cycles and patterns in the biosphere; 11 - Terrestrial flora and fauna; 12 - Soils; 13- Introduction to landform studies; 14 - The internal processes; 15 - Preliminaries to erosion; weathering and mass wasting; 16 - The fluvial process; 17 - Solution processes and karst topography; 18 - The topography of arid lands; 19 - Glacial modification of terrain; 20 - Coastal processes and terrain.



Although ecological education has developed dramatically over the past 30 years it's often been at the expense of allied disciplines. One such area to suffer is physical geography. The influence of the abiotic elements is recognised in all ecology texts as standard but often the treatment is more superficial than it needs to be. The increasing importance of physical problems such as acid rain and global warming shows that we should make sure students have a thorough grounding in this area. This text is one of a recent crop dealing with this area.

The opening chapter starts with a very brief overview of the subject before focussing on the main aspect - key global responses in terms of seasons, time and location (latitude and longitude). The idea of location is continued in chapter two which looks at maps and map projections/production finishing with an overview of GIS. Chapter three starts the first of the themed 'areas' of the text - those with allied topics. This is atmosphere with an opener on basic composition and global flows. Chapter four looks at insolation and global temperature patterns - the distribution of energy. This is followed by wind and the movement of air both globally and locally. Moisture is the main topic in chapter six - a mixture of basic physics mixed with practical examples. Chapter 7 turns to look at sudden phenomena from storms to El Niño. From the dynamic we move to the static with the representation of these flows in their static counterpart, climate belts. Chapter 9 starts a new theme with the hydrosphere giving a basic outline of global flows and cycles. Chapter 10 is another move but this time to the biosphere and the impact that the physical environment has on it. Much of this impact shows up in the distribution of species. Chapter 11 examines this in terms of basic ecology, distribution patterns and human impact. Having this basic information, the next stage is to put it into a global perspective with a brief review of global biomes. A final chapter in this series looks at soil with a description of formation, soil type and a description of soil types and distributions. Chapter 13 moves to what might be considered the more traditional area of the subject - landforms. Here we just get the basics of the rock cycle, geological time and a study of the problem of scale. From here, chapters cover one aspect of each part. Thus chapter 14 looks at the interior of the Earth, major rock-forming elements and landform creation. The next stage is to move to the surface with discussions on surface removal (erosion and deposition). Water is a key element and so chapter 16 looks at those processes such as river erosion, river channels and valley re-shaping. Not all water has to flow in rivers. Solution in underground situations can leave to both spectacular cave formations or (as is the case in chapter17) limestone scenery production. From an area with too much water to one with too little. Chapter 18 analyses desert features and how they were created. The final two chapters look at glaciation and coasts the former a reduced agent of change; the latter at an increasingly important aspect given its popularity. Appendices cover small topics not fitted in elsewhere (map projections, wind roses, weather stations etc.).

There is much to recommend this text. It is beautifully produced which makes it a delight to read. There are copious full-colour diagrams. Each chapter is finished with summary, key terms, questions and references. In addition to this, the book also has a series of animations on CD. These are extremely high quality animations which allow some of the more difficult aspects to be explained easily. Overall, this is a highly competent text with much to recommend it. Illustrations and CD are outstanding. The only drawback (and its a minor one) is that the focus is on North America, the locations of the books authors. Even allowing for this (and it rarely makes an issue) the book represents a great resource for those needing to know more.

Although each text I receive is reviewed in isolation it so happens that 2 texts from the same publisher arrived at the same time (click here for the other review). How do these rate? Both are very good and should be seen as vital updates to a library. This edition, though, is less detailed with more diagrams which would make it ideal for the secondary student and their teacher.


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