The Earth: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Martin Redfern

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 9780191577741

Category: Science

Page: 160

View: 811

For generations, the ground beneath the feet of our ancestors seemed solid and unchanging. Around 30 years ago, two things happened that were to revolutionize the understanding of our home planet. First, geologists realized that the continents themselves were drifting across the surface of the globe and that oceans were being created and destroyed. Secondly, pictures of the entire planet were returned from space. As the astronomer Fred Hoyle had predicted, this 'let loose an idea as powerful as any in history'. Suddenly, the Earth began to be viewed as a single entity; a dynamic, interacting whole, controlled by complex processes we scarcely understood. It began to seem less solid. As one astronaut put it, 'a blue jewel on black velvet; small, fragile and touchingly alone'. Geologists at last were able to see the whole as well as the detail; the wood as well as the trees. This book brings their account up to date with the latest understanding of the processes that govern our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Earth System Science

A Very Short Introduction

Author: Tim Lenton

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 019871887X

Category:

Page: 144

View: 6896

When humanity first glimpsed planet Earth from space, the unity of the system that supports humankind entered the popular consciousness. The concept of the Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, soil, and rocks operating as a closely interacting system has rapidly gained ground in science. This new field, involving geographers, geologists, biologists, oceanographers, and atmospheric physicists, is known as Earth System Science. In this Very Short Introduction, Tim Lenton considers how a world in which humans could evolve was created; how, as a species, we are now reshaping that world; and what a sustainable future for humanity within the Earth System might look like. Drawing on elements of geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, Lenton asks whether Earth System Science can help guide us onto a sustainable course before we alter the Earth system to the point where we destroy ourselves and our current civilisation. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Climate: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Mark Maslin

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0199641137

Category: Science

Page: 176

View: 5113

In this Very Short Introduction, Mark Maslin looks at all aspects of climate, from the physical and chemical factors that drive it and how climate differs from weather, to how climate has affected human settlements and the cyclic features of it. He ends with a look at climate change and our current approaches to solving it.
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Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: David C. Catling

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199586454

Category: Science

Page: 142

View: 7029

Examines the origins of life on Earth and the search for extraterrestrial life, through an understanding of the factors that have allowed life to exist on this planet and the commonalities on others that may enable life elsewhere.
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Landscapes and Geomorphology: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Andrew Goudie,Heather Viles

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191614157

Category: Science

Page: 152

View: 7784

What were the landscapes of the past like? What will landscapes look like in the future? Landscapes are all around us, but most of us know very little about how they have developed, what goes on in them, and how they react to changing climates, tectonics and human activities. Examining what landscape is, and how we use a range of ideas and techniques to study it, Andrew Goudie and Heather Viles demonstrate how geomorphologists have built on classic methods pioneered by some great 19th century scientists to examine our Earth. Using examples from around the world, including New Zealand, the Tibetan Plateau, and the deserts of the Middle East, they examine some of the key controls on landscape today such as tectonics and climate, as well as humans and the living world. They also discuss some key 'landscape detectives' from the past, including Charles Darwin who did some important, but often overlooked, research on landscape. Concluding with the cultural importance of landscape, and exploring how this has led to the conservation of much 'earth heritage', they delve into the future and look at how we can predict the response of landscapes to climate change in the future. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Deserts: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Nick Middleton

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199564302

Category: Nature

Page: 135

View: 4200

In this Very Short Introduction Nick Middleton tells the story of the desert, demonstrating its beautiful landscapes and remarkable climates. He challenges the common notion that they are dry and barren and uncovers fascinating life-forms, a rich biodiversity, and a long history of human habitation.
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Rocks: a Very Short Introduction

Author: Jan Zalasiewicz

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198725191

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 2409

Rocks, more than anything else, underpin our lives. They make up the solid structure of the Earth and of other rocky planets, and are present at the cores of gas giant planets. We live on the rocky surface of the planet, grow our food on weathered debris derived from rocks, and we obtain nearly all of the raw materials with which we found our civilization from rocks. From the Earth's crust to building bricks, rocks contain our sense of planetary history, and are a guide to our future. In this Very Short Introduction Jan Zalsiewicz looks at the nature and variety of rocks, and the processes by which they are formed. Starting from the origin of rocks and their key role in the formation of the Earth, he considers what we know about the deep rocks of the mantle and core, and what rocks can tell us about the evolution of the Earth, and looks at those found in outer space and on other planets. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Plate Tectonics: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Peter Molnar

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191043966

Category: Science

Page: 152

View: 6351

The 1960s revealed a new and revolutionary idea in geological thought: that the continents drift with respect to one another. After having been dismissed for decades as absurd, the concept gradually became part of geology's basic principles. We now know that the Earth's crust and upper mantle consist of a small number of rigid plates that move, and there are significant boundaries between pairs of plates, usually known as earthquake belts. Plate tectonics now explains much of the structure and phenomena we see today: how oceans form, widen, and disappear; why earthquakes and volcanoes are found in distinct zones which follow plate boundaries; how the great mountain ranges of the world were built. The impact of plate tectonics is studied closely as these processes continue: the Himalaya continues to grow, the Atlantic is widening, and new oceans are forming. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Molnar provides a succinct and authoritative account of the nature and mechanisms of plate tectonics and its impact on our understanding of Earth. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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The Atmosphere: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Paul I. Palmer

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191030759

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 6963

The atmosphere is the thin, diffuse fluid that envelops the Earth's surface. Despite its apparent fragility, the existence of this fluid is vital for human and other life on Earth. In this Very Short Introduction Paul Palmer describes the physical and chemical characteristics of different layers in the atmosphere, and shows how the interactions where the atmosphere is in contact with land, ocean, and ice affect its observed physical and chemical properties. He also looks at how movement in the atmosphere, driven by heat from the sun, transports heat from lower latitudes to higher latitudes, and is a fundamental feature of the general circulation in the atmosphere. Finally, Palmer presents an overview of the types of measurements used to understand different parts of the atmosphere, and identifies the future challenges for atmospheric scientists. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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The Antarctic: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Klaus Dodds

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191633518

Category: History

Page: 160

View: 4286

The Antarctic is one the most hostile natural environments in the world. It is an extraordinary physical space, which changes significantly in shape and size with the passing of the seasons. Politically, it is unique as it contains one of the few areas of continental space not claimed by any nation-state. Scientifically, the continental ice sheet has provided us with vital evidence about the Earth's past climate. In this Very Short Introduction, Klaus Dodds provides a modern account of Antarctica, highlighting the main issues facing the continent today. Looking at how the Antarctic has been explored and represented in the last hundred years, Dodds considers the main exploratory and scientific achievements of the region. He explains how processes such as globalization mean that the Antarctic is increasingly involved in a wider circuit of ideas, goods, people, trade, and governance - all of which have an impact on the future of the region. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Global Catastrophes

A Very Short Introduction

Author: Bill McGuire

Publisher: Oxford University Press (UK)

ISBN: 0198715935

Category: Nature

Page: 123

View: 7687

Life on Earth will eventually come to an end. This work focuses on the many potential catastrophes facing our planet in the future, from global warming and new Ice Ages to asteroid impact, supervolcanoes and mega-tsunami. It looks at the science behind these events and our chances of survival.
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The Ice Age

A Very Short Introduction

Author: Jamie Woodward

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199580693

Category: History

Page: 163

View: 1213

"In an era of warming climate, the study of the ice age past is now more important than ever. This book examines the wonders of the Quaternary ice age - to show how ice age landscapes and ecosystems were repeatedly and rapidly transformed as plants, animals, and humans reorganized their worlds." --Publisher.
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Mountains: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Martin Price

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191003379

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 7078

Mountains cover a quarter of the Earth's land surface and are home to about 12 percent of the global population. They are the sources of all the world's major rivers, affect regional weather patterns, provide centres of biological and cultural diversity, hold deposits of minerals, and provide both active and contemplative recreation. Yet mountains are also significantly affected by climate change; as melting and retreating glaciers show. Given the manifold goods and services which mountains provide to the world, such changes are of global importance. In this Very Short Introduction, Martin Price outlines why mountains matter at the global level, and addresses the existing and likely impacts of climate change on mountain, hydrological and ecological systems. Considering the risks associated with the increasing frequency of extreme events and 'natural hazards' caused by climate change, he discusses the implications for both mountain societies and wider populations, and concludes by emphasizing the need for greater cooperation in order to adapt to climate change in our increasingly globalized world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Oceans: a Very Short Introduction

Author: Dorrik Stow

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199655073

Category: Science

Page: 152

View: 8380

The importance of the oceans to life on Earth cannot be overstated. Liquid water covers more than 70% of our planet's surface and, in past geological time, has spread over 85%. Life on Earth began in the oceans over 3.5 billion years ago and remained there for the great majority of that time. Today the seas still provide 99% of habitable living space, the largest repository of biomass, and holds the greatest number of undiscovered species on the planet. Our oceans are vital for the regulation of climate, and with global warming and decreasing land area, they have become increasingly important as the source of food, energy in the form of oil and gas, and for their mineral wealth. Oceans also form a key part of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and other elements critical to life. Nutrients in upwelling areas are spread by ocean currents, and the plankton of the seas supports a wealth of wildlife. In this Very Short Introduction Dorrik Stow analyses these most important components of our blue planet and considers their relationship with, and exploitation by, humans. He shows how the oceans are an essential resource to our overpopulated world, and discusses why exploration and greater scientific understanding of the oceans, their chemistry, and their mineral wealth are now a high priority. Stow also explores what we know of how oceans originate, and evolve and change; the shape of the seafloor and nature of its cover; the physical processes that stir the waters and mix such a rich chemical broth; and the inseparable link between oceans and climate. As polar ice melts and sea-levels rise, countless millions who have made their homes on low-lying lands close to the sea are threatened. As scientific exploration of the seas gathers pace, the new knowledge gained of the ocean-Earth systems and their interaction with the human environment is vital to our understanding of how we can preserve these ultimately fragile environments. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Minerals

A Very Short Introduction

Author: David Vaughan

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199682844

Category: Science

Page: 137

View: 9789

Minerals existed long before any forms of life, playing a key role in the origin and evolution of life; an interaction with biological systems that we are only now beginning to understand. Exploring the traditional strand of mineralogy, which emphasises the important mineral families, the well-established analytical methods (optical microscopy and X-ray diffraction) and the dramatic developments made in techniques over recent decades, David Vaughan also introduces the modern strand of mineralogy, which explores the role minerals play in the plate tectonic cycle and how they interact with the living world. Demonstrating how minerals can be critical for human health and illness by providing essential nutrients and releasing poisons, Vaughan explores the multitude of ways in which minerals have aided our understanding of the world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Stars: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Andrew King

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191633844

Category: Science

Page: 136

View: 9926

Every atom of our bodies has been part of a star. Our very own star, the Sun, is crucial to the development and sustainability of life on Earth. This Very Short Introduction presents a modern, authoritative examination of how stars live, producing all the chemical elements beyond helium, and how they die, sometimes spectacularly, to end as remnants such as black holes. Andrew King shows how understanding the stars is key to understanding the galaxies they inhabit, and thus the history of our entire Universe, as well as the existence of planets like our own. King presents a fascinating exploration of the science of stars, from the mechanisms that allow stars to form and the processes that allow them to shine, as well as the results of their inevitable death. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Geography: A Very Short Introduction

Author: John A. Matthews,David T. Herbert

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199211280

Category: History

Page: 181

View: 6542

Modern Geography has come a long way from its roots in simply mapping and naming the regions of the world. Spanning both physical and human Geography, the discipline today is unique as a subject bridging the divide between the sciences and humanities, and between the environment and our society. This Very Short Introduction reveals why.
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Moons: A Very Short Introduction

Author: David A. Rothery

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0191054224

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 3871

Proving to be both varied and fascinating, moons are far more common than planets in our Solar System. Our own Moon has had a profound influence on Earth, not only through tidal effects, but even on the behaviour of some marine animals. Many remarkable things have been discovered about the moons of the giant outer planets from Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, and other spacecraft. Scientists have glimpsed volcanic activity on Io, found oceans of water on Titan, and captured photos of icy geysers bursting from Enceladus. It looks likely that microbial life beyond the Earth may be discovered on a moon rather than a planet. In this Very Short Introduction David Rothery introduces the reader to the moons of our Solar System, beginning with the early discoveries of Galileo and others, describing their variety of mostly mythological names, and the early use of Jupiter's moons to establish position at sea and to estimate the speed of light. Rothery discusses the structure, formation, and influence of our Moon, and those of the other planets, and ends with the recent discovery of moons orbiting asteroids, whilst looking forward to the possibility of finding moons of exoplanets in planetary systems far beyond our own. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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The History of Life: A Very Short Introduction

Author: Michael J. Benton

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199226326

Category: Science

Page: 170

View: 3452

This Very Short Introduction presents a succinct and accessible guide to the key episodes in the story of life on earth - from the very origins of life four million years ago to the extraordinary diversity of species around the globe today.
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Water: A Very Short Introduction

Author: John Finney

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191019054

Category: Science

Page: 144

View: 3775

Water dominates the surface of Earth and is vital to life on our planet. It is a remarkable liquid which shows anomalous behaviour. In this Very Short Introduction John Finney introduces the science of water, and explores how the structure of water molecules gives rise to its physical and chemical properties. Considering water in all three of its states as ice and steam as well as liquid, Finney explains the great importance of an understanding of its structure and behaviour to a range of fields including chemistry, astrophysics, and earth and environmental sciences. Finney describes the role of water in biology, and ends with a discussion of the outstanding controversies concerning water, and some of the 'magical' properties which have been claimed for it. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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