Cover image for Air apparent : how meteorologists learned to map, predict, and dramatize weather
Air apparent : how meteorologists learned to map, predict, and dramatize weather
Monmonier, Mark S.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : University of Chicago Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 309 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QC878 .M59 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Weather maps have made our atmosphere visible, understandable, and at least moderately predictable. In Air Apparent Mark Monmonier traces debates among scientists eager to unravel the enigma of storms and global change, explains strategies for mapping the upper atmosphere and forecasting disaster, and discusses efforts to detect and control air pollution. Fascinating in its scope and detail, Air Apparent makes us take a second look at the weather map, an image that has been, and continues to be, central to our daily lives.

"Clever title, rewarding book. Monmonier . . . offers here a basic course in meteorology, which he presents gracefully by means of a history of weather maps." -- Scientific American

"Mark Monmonier is onto a winner with Air Apparent . . . . It is good, accessible science and excellent history. . . . Read it." --Fred Pearce, New Scientist

"[ Air Apparent ] is a superb first reading for any backyard novice of weather . . . but even the veteran forecaster or researcher will find it engaging and, in some cases, enlightening." --Joe Venuti, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

"Monmonier is solid enough in his discussion of geographic and meteorological information to satisfy the experienced weather watcher. But even if this information were not presented in such a lively and engaging manner, it would still hook most any reader who checks the weather map every morning or who sits happily entranced through a full cycle of forecasts on the Weather Channel."--Michael Kennedy, Boston Globe

Author Notes

Mark Monmonier is distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Behind TV news' Live-at-Five 3-D StormWatch weather segment, there's not only a happy-talking impresario with perfect dentition (sometimes titled a meteorologist) but 200 years of weather maps. Monmonier mines this rich history in his inimitably interesting style. As in all his previous stories about maps (most recently, Cartographies of Danger, 1997), he illuminates the implied, or excluded, information presented in a map. Never neutral, maps convey an intentional message via their graphic symbols, which is one angle from which Monmonier views weather maps. Another perspective is the sequence of significant breakthroughs in weather cartography beginning with the oldest weather map (dating from the early 1800s); Monmonier charts the mapmakers' availing themselves of technological advances from the telegraph and mercury barometer to the satellite and Doppler radar. Populating his tableau with the weather bureaucrats, newspaper editors, and innovative meteorologists who contributed to the daily weather map, Monmonier cements his status as the popular expositor of cartography, with his hallmark of technical detail expressed in a fluid, vibrant narrative. Weather Channel loyalists will clamor for this one. --Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

Monmonier's skillfully crafted review of the history and status of spatial representations of meteorological information cleverly interweaves the science and personalities of meteorology in a readable form highly accessible to nonspecialists. For the more inquisitive reader there is an extensive notes section listing technical details, references, and further descriptions of terminology. The scope of the book is much broader than meteorology per se (the forecasting of weather) and expands to graphical presentation of a range of atmospheric data from climate trends to trace chemical concentrations. Cartography within atmospheric science is critical to the assimilation of vast data sets and integration of data from different sources. There are numerous depictions of the evolution of weather maps, and documents of the distressing recent trend towards ever-increasing simplification of meteorological charts for public consumption. Air Apparent will appeal to weather buffs and cartographers alike. General readers; professionals. S. C. Pryor; Indiana University

Table of Contents

1 Seeing and Forecasting
2 Seeing and Understanding
3 Weather by Wire
4 Looking Up
5 Looking Ahead
6 Downwind Dangers
7 Looking Down
8 Looking Around
9 Spreading the News
10 Weather Channels and Web Sites
11 Hindsight As Insight
12 Managed Myopia
Appendix: Web-site Addresses