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Our Changing Planet

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  • 588 colour illus.
  • Page extent: 400 pages
  • Size: 317 x 258 mm
  • Weight: 2.4 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521828703)

  • Published November 2007

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$62.95 (G)

For over 40 years, satellites have been orbiting the Earth quietly monitoring the state of our planet. Unseen by most of us, they are providing information on the many changes taking place, from movements in the land and volcanic eruptions, to human-caused changes such as the growth of cities, deforestation and the spread of pollutants in the atmosphere and oceans. Led by four editors with support from a production team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, many of the world's top remote sensing scientists showcase some spectacular and beautiful satellite imagery along with informed essays on the science behind these images and the implications of what is shown. This is a stunningly attractive and informative book for anyone interested in environmental issues and the beauty of our home planet, providing inspiration for students, teachers, environmentalists and the general public alike.


Foreword; Preface; Introduction; Part I. Dynamic Atmosphere: 1. The dynamic atmosphere: introduction; 2. Clouds: are the shutters of the Earth changing?; 3. Cloud optical and microphysical properties; 4. Clouds and the Earth's radiation budget; 5. Water vapour; 6. A world of rain; 7. Hurricanes: connections with climate change; 8. Lightning; 9. Warming and cooling of the atmosphere; 10. Dust in the wind; 11. Atmospheric pollution: a global problem; 12. Ship tracks; 13. Airplane contrails; 14. Weekly cycle of nitrogen dioxide pollution from space; 15. The ozone hole; 16. The chlorine threat to Earth's ozone shield; Part II: Vital Land: 17. The vital land: introduction; 18. The San Andreas Fault: adjustments in the Earth's crust; 19. Mount Pinatubo: an enduring volcanic hazard; 20. Extreme floods; 21. Satellite monitoring of Ebola virus hemorrhagic fever epidemics; 22. Snow cover: the most dynamic feature on the Earth's surface; 23. Glaciers: scribes of climate; harbingers of change; 24. Boreal forests: a lengthening growing season; 25. Soil moisture: a critical underlying role; 26. The sunlit Earth; 27. Temperature of the land surface; Part III. The Restless Ocean: 28. The restless ocean: introduction; 29. Ocean bathymetry and plate tectonics; 30. Ocean surface topography and circulation; 31. Heat in the ocean; 32. Sea level rise; 33. Tides; 34. Winds over ocean; 35. The stormy Atlantic; 36. The ocean biosphere; 37. Coccolithophores and the 'Sea of Milk'; 38. Coral bleaching; 39. Hunting red tides from space; 40. Marine sediments; 41. Tsunamis; Part IV. The Frozen Caps: 42. The frozen caps: introduction; 43. Antarctica: a continent revealed; 44. Ice sheets on the move; 45. Ice sheets and the threat to global sea level; 46. The great white ocean: the Arctic's changing sea ice cover; 47. Bound together: Arctic sea ice, ocean and atmosphere; 48. Sea ice: the shifting crust of the southern ocean; 49. Antarctic polynyas: ventilation, bottom water, and high productivity for the world's oceans; Part V. Evidence of our Tenure: 50. Evidence of our tenure: introduction; 51. Mapping the ancient Maya landscape from space; 52. Global land use changes; 53. The changing role of fire on Earth; 54. The tropical rain forest: threatened powerhouse of the biosphere; 55. The green wave; 56. Monitoring urban areas globally and locally; 57. Gray wave of the great transformation; 58. Urban heat islands; 59. Urbanization in China: The Pearl River Delta example; 60. Water issues in the fertile crescent: irrigation in south-eastern Turkey; 61. Chronicling the destruction of Eden: the draining of the Iraqi marshes; 62. Destruction of the Aral Sea; 63. The desiccation of Lake Chad; 64. Industrial pollution in the Russian Arctic; 65. Oil spills at sea; Epilogue; Glossary; Appendix A; Appendix B; Appendix C; Index.

Prize Winner

Best of Show 2009-2010 Award by the Society for Technical Communication

Distinguished Technical Communication 2009-2010 Award by the Society for Technical Communication


Pre-publication praise for Our Changing Planet: The View from Space:

"I've had the good fortune to visit some of the most beautiful parts of our home planet, and witness first hand the effect human activity is having on our world. This book allows you to explore some of these effects through an awe-inspiring collection of images of the Earth from space. This wonderful volume provides a masterful association of imagery and explanation. You will have difficulty closing it once opened. I give it my highest recommendation."
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, internationally renowned explorer and adventurer

"Our understanding of the world radically changed when we first saw it from space. It became at once precious yet vulnerable, romantic yet realistic, and above all unified as the physical and living environments came indissolubly together. The pictures in this remarkable book could almost tell the story by themselves; but they are supported by a well written collection of essays which together explain the underlying science and how the system actually works. As tiny ephemeral creatures on the surface, we can also see the alarming effects our activities are having, whether on the land, in the seas or in the atmosphere, so that this epoch in the Earth's long history can be appropriately named the Anthropocene. We still have to reckon with the consequences. This is an excellent guide to greater understanding of the fundamental issues of our time."
Sir Crispin Tickell, Director of the Policy Foresight Programme at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at Oxford University, former British Ambassador to the United Nations, former President of the Royal Geographical Society

"Great, readable book with spectacular space views of how our home planet is changing - the land, atmosphere, oceans and ice."
James Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"We have been advised for years to act locally and think globally and nothing helps us think more about the globe than the wonder of viewing the whole and all its changeable parts from space. This book tells us what is happening to our world in graphic detail and it is truly an eye opener."
William Ruckelhaus, First Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency

"This collection of stunning images of our planet from space serves as a focus for a discussion of geologic, atmospheric and oceanic processes. The emphasis is on change, and here the images of shrinking glaciers are particularly impressive. Much of scientific progress has been associated with increased magnification of ever smaller subjects, down to the molecular and atomic dimensions. This volume illustrates rather the opposite: of how much can be learned from integrated views of large areas, up to the planetary dimension."
Walter Munk, Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

"Our Changing Planet expresses a vision the Earth System Science community has pursued for a generation. By observing the earth from space as completely as science knows how, we would document the state of our planet in the midst of the tremendous changes wrought by our burgeoning global society. We hoped our work would be a landmark; the beauty revealed here goes beyond our dreams."
Charles F. Kennel, Former Associate Administrator at NASA for Mission to Planet Earth, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor of Marine Sciences at the University of California, San Diego.

"One book that capably captures the Big Changes is Our Changing Planet: The View From Space … This is a thoughtful survey, full of stunning photos – both satellite and earthbound – and illuminating charts and graphs. The editors have done a splendid job of organizing a daunting array of material into a genuinely engaging, sobering and informative work that will appeal to even the most science-challenged reader."
LK Hanson, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"There are dozens of coffee table books available featuring stunning images of the earth which appeal to the aesthetic in all of us, since the world is indeed beautiful at any scale on which we choose to observe it. What allows NASA’s Our Changing Planet to distinguish itself in the competitive field is the accompanying chapters which contextualise the images, explaining not only their geographical significance but also enriching our scientific, environmental and even political knowledge. In a series of short and highly accessible chapters, the book combines stunning satellite imagery with succinct explanations, taking care to avoid an excess of scientific mumbo jumbo. … what raises Our Changing Planet’head and shoulders above similar books is the accompanying explanations … The book conclusively demonstrates that, beyond enhancing our appreciation of the natural world with revealing and vibrant pictures, satellite imagery can also contribute toward emergency responses and even prevention of accidents through effective monitoring. These photographs which draw us into the wonders of our planet should also inspire us to safeguard its future. So if you need a Christmas present of a budding ecologist but you want them to get the facts – then this book is out of this world."
Robert Wilkinson, Lloyd’s List, December 2007

"The attractive presentation and detailed analysis will combat glum feelings about the Earth's prospects and inspire action to improve them."
Anna Lena Phillips, American Scientist

"This is a benchmark publication."
Dr. Murray Felsher, Washington Remote Sensing Letter, Volume 28, No. 1, January 2008

"This is a stunningly attractive and informative book for anyone interested in environmental issues and the beauty of our home planet, providing inspiration for students, teachers, environmentalists and the general public alike."
Ian Stirling, The Society for Marine Mammalogy Newsletter - Vol. 15, No 4 (Winter 2007)

"Much of what I have learned in this remarkable book will find its way into my lectures and texts, and I can only thank the editors for the skill and balance demonstrated in their selection of contributors and topics." - Tom Garrison, Orange Coast College, Costa Messa, CA

"Here is a call to action in the clearest sense. In a perfect world, every science educator would receive a copy of this book and pass its fundamental message along to his and her students. We have much to do!" - Tom Garrison, Oceanography


Piers J. Sellers, Michael D. King, Donald P. Wylie, W. Paul Menzel, Norman G. Loeb, Takmeng Wong, Brian J. Soden, Robert F. Adler, George J. Huffman, Scott Curtis, Jeffrey B. Halverson, Steven J. Goodman, Dennis E. Buechler, Eugene W. McCaul, Jr., Qiang Fu, Celeste M. Johanson, N. Christina Hsu, Si-Chee Tsay, Michael D. King, David J. Diner, David P. Edwards, Steven Platnick, Patrick Minnis, Stephen Beirle, Ulrich Platt, Thomas Wagner, Mark O. Wenig, James F. Gleason, Richard D. McPeters, Michelle L. Santee, Kim C. Partington David T. Sandwell, Bridget R. Smith, Peter J. Mouginis-Mark, Sébastien Caquard, G. Robert Brakenridge, Jorge E. Pinzon, Compton J. Tucker, Dorothy K. Hall, James L. Foster, Richard S. Williams, Jr., Kyle C. McDonald, John S. Kimball, Michael F. Jasinski, Thomas J. Jackson, Manfred Owe, Brian A. Cosgrove, Crystal B. Schaaf, Zhengming Wan, Robin G. Williams, Lee-Lueng Fu, Peter J. Minnett, Gary T. Mitchum, R. Steven Nerem, Richard D. Ray, W. Timonthy Liu, Xiaosu Xie, David K. Woolf, Ian S. Robinson, Charles R. McClain, Gene C. Feldman, William M. Balch, Gang Liu, Alan E. Strong, Kendall L. Carder, John J. Walsh, Jennifer P. Cannizzaro, James G. Acker, Remko Scharroo, Kenneth C. Jezek, Eric Rignot, Ian Joighin, Robert H. Thomas, Robert A. Bindschadler, Claire L. Parkinson, Mark R. Drinkwater, Josefino C. Comiso, Thomas L. Sever, Daniel E. Irwin, Jonathan A. Foley, Navin Ramankutty, Billiana Leff, Holly K. Gibbs, David P. Roy, Christopher O. Justice, Bruce Chapman, Reiner Zimmerman, Liming Zhou, Robert K. Kaufmann, Ranga B. Myneni, Annemaire Schneider, Marc L. Imhoff, Lahouari Bounoua, J. Marshall Shepherd, Dale A. Quattrochi, Maurice G. Estes, Jr., Charles A. Laymon, Williams L. Crosson, Burgess F. Howell, Jeffrey C. Luvall, Douglas L. Rickman, Karen C. Seto, Mutlu Ozdogan, Curtis E. Woodcock, Guido D. Salvucci, Gregory T. Koeln, Yasmin Naficy, Philip P. Micklin, Michael T. Coe, Charon Birkett, W. Gareth Rees, François Parthiot

The Gold Standard in Satellite Imaging!

Our Changing Planet is an absolute must-have for anyone interested in the changes human activity is causing to the Earths atmosphere, oceans and land surfaces. A team of editors from NASA and the worlds top remote sensing experts explain the science behind the matchless images distributed throughout this book, taken at local, regional and global scales over a period of 40 years.


Astronaut Piers Sellers on a spacewalk during the STS-112 mission, October 2002. (Image courtesy the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.)Earth taken on December 7, 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew while traveling toward the moon. (Image courtesy the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, photograph number AS17-148-22727)

Crop circles in southwest Kansas, in the central United States, June 24, 2001. (Data from the ASTER instrument on the Terra satellite; figure courtesy United States / Japan ASTER Science Team and the NASA Earth Observatory.)

The Pasterze Glacier in western Austria, October 3, 2001. (Data from IKONOS satellite; image Space Imaging.)


NASA false-color, infrared, vertical aerial photograph of Mulajokull, a surge type outlet glacier from the Hofsjokull ice cap, Iceland, August 19, 1973.

A composite image of the world at night, 2000. (Data from the OLS instrument on a DMSP satellite, provided by Christopher D. Elvidge, NOAA NESDIS National Geophysical Data Center.)

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