Treading on thin air Atmospheric physics, forensic meteorology, and climate change : how weather shapes our everyday lives

Elizabeth Austin

Book - 2016

"A world-renowned atmospheric physicist, revealing how the climate is an inescapable part of our daily lives, shows how the effects and impacts of weather on humans, society and the planet are changing with the times and what it means for our future, "

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2nd Floor 551.6/Austin Checked In
New York : Pegasus Books 2016.
Main Author
Elizabeth Austin (author)
First Pegasus books cloth edition
Physical Description
xi, 273 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-258) and index.
  • Author's Note
  • 1. Surfing In the Stratosphere
  • 2. The Business of Weather
  • 3. Where's the Dead Body!
  • 4. The War Effect
  • 5. The Art of Clouds
  • 6. It's Super Cool to Supercool
  • 7. A SAGE Experience
  • 8. Water Wars
  • 9. La Reunion
  • 10. The Wind Is from the Left
  • 11. The Healing Power of Music and Women in Science
  • 12. A Toxic Awakening
  • 13. La Calamidad de Mexico
  • 14. The China Factor
  • 15. Plane Crashes
  • 16. A Canary in the Coal Mine
  • 17. Extreme Extremes
  • 18. Forensics, Extreme Wx, and Death
  • 19. "Saint Francine" of Assisi
  • Acknowledgments
  • Selected References/Suggested Reading/Suggested Listening
  • Glossary
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

Austin, founder and president of WeatherExtreme Ltd., a company that provides weather reconstruction for forensic purposes, has written a personal memoir and science book loosely woven around the general theme of women in science and her career and experiences as an atmospheric scientist. She presents a menagerie of personal anecdotes and opinionated discussions on topics including science education, business aspects of atmospheric science, plane crash meteorology, the creation of snow in Chinese ski resorts, weather modification, weather radar, toxic shock syndrome, dying corals, and her own family life. Though not the primary focus, a discussion on climate change is presented; this is not rhetorically extreme, which is unusual in popular atmospheric science literature. Overall, this title is an informal autobiography of an interesting woman's life in science (with little scientific detail) and will appeal to a general audience. Austin presents her work from the point of view of a successful scientific business owner, which this reviewer found to be the most remarkable and interesting part of the story. Nonetheless, the reviewer would have preferred more details regarding how Austin's business was envisioned, implemented, and then maintained. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers. --Thomas N. Chase, University of Colorado

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Atmospheric physicist and forensic meteorologist Austin has had a fascinating career that includes everything from experiences with record-setting aviator Steve Fossett to high-altitude studies involving tornado intensity and the causes behind the crash of Air France flight 447. She is clearly knowledgeable and gives readers a brisk overview of each topic while also offering a compelling look into her unique field and the opportunities it offers. The book suffers somewhat from dueling narratives as Austin shifts from essay-like chapters on strictly scientific experiences to personal reflections on her difficult first marriage to a steroid-addicted emotional abuser and her delight in finding love and parenthood with her current husband. Some readers will want more from these teasing digressions than Austin provides, while others will wish she focused solely on science. The author herself seems uncertain which story is more compelling as she attempts to fully integrate them into a science-infused memoir. This means a little patience is required for readers navigating these otherwise intriguing literary waters.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this mix of memoir and popular science, Austin, founder and president of WeatherExtreme Ltd., takes readers on a global tour and up into the heights of the stratosphere to learn about weather, climate, and how it affects our planet and our lives. "Weather is tied to profits, margins, demands, inventory, planning, and retail expansion," Austin writes, illuminating the rationale behind creating her own company to put her degree in atmospheric physics to work. She has studied cloud chemistry, weather modification, and the structure of the upper atmosphere. As a forensic meteorologist, Austin has been an expert witness in hundreds of legal cases, explaining how weather can be a factor in murder investigations, tornado destruction, and deadly auto and plane crashes. Austin jumps from topic to topic over the course of the narrative, but what her book lacks in structure, it makes up for in raw enthusiasm, whether she is discussing the evidence for climate change, chiding the media for failing to get their science correct, or encouraging more women to take up science careers. This far-ranging book should whet readers' appetites for learning more about meteorology and its surprisingly broad applications. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.