7R3. Waves in the Ocean and Atmosphere: Introduction to Wave Dynamics.- Edited by J Pedlowsky (Dept of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst, Clark 363 MS 21, Woods Hole MA 02543). Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 2003. 260 pp. ISBN 3-540-00340-1. $49.95.
Reviewed by JW Miles (Inst of Geophysics and Planetary Phys, UCSD, 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0225, La Jolla, CA 92093-0225).
This book, the author informs us, was developed as a set of lecture notes for one of a series of core courses in geophysical fluid dynamics and physical oceanography at MIT and Woods Hole over more than twenty years. One recalls that its eminent relative, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, was developed for a (presumably) similar core curriculum at the University of Chicago, but the two books differ in both style and depth. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics is a classic that merits a prominent place on the bookshelves of everyone working in the field; the present book serves the student well but is much less likely to be consulted by the working scientist or cited as a standard reference.
Pedlosky begins with two chapters (“lectures”) on kinematics that introduce dispersion and group velocity. He then goes on to develop the equations of motion for surface gravity waves and to discuss energy propagation. Against this basic background, he devotes four chapters to internal gravity waves and, in the remaining two-thirds of the book, deals with waves for which rotation of the Earth plays an essential role. Among the topics covered are Rossby waves, the beta plane (both non-equatorial and equatorial), quasigeostrophic motion, potential vorticity, the WKB approximation, baroclinic instability, topographic waves, and wave-mean-flow interactions. He concludes with twelve problem sets and a list of references grouped by chapter. The exposition is leisurely and informal, with frequent sotto-voce instructions and remarks, and is accompanied by a generous supply of simple but informative diagrams.
Several topics that one might expect to find in a course on water waves—eg, solitary waves, tsunamis and tides—are absent. There is, to be sure, a chapter titled “Laplace Tidal Equations”, but the tides themselves are not discussed. On balance, however, the coverage and topical selection for the student of geo-physical fluid dynamics are excellent.
The question remains: would you choose waves in the ocean and atmosphere: Introduction to Wave Dynamics for a first-year course on atmospheric and ocean waves? Some might be put −3 -off by the quasi-colloquial style (or prefer their own quasi-colloquial style), but others will find it refreshing. And, given the stated purpose of the book, qua elementary text, I know of nothing that can match it.