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The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disastersby Bruce Parker
Synopses & Reviews
The awesome power of the earth's oceans has been in the headlines in recent years, from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (300,000 dead) to the devastation of New Orleans caused by the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, to the huge rogue waves that have struck oil tankers and cruise ships. Bruce Parker, former Chief Scientist for the National Ocean Service, tells these stories as he explores the history of our struggle to understand the physics of the sea so we can predict when it will unleash its power against us. His wide-sweeping narrative interweaves exciting stories of unpredicted natural disasters with fascinating stories of scientific discovery, including:
* Napoleon's realization about Moses and the Exodus after his own narrow escape from the dangerous tides of the Red Sea;
* the critical role that tide predictions and wave forecasts played in the Allied victory on D-Day;
* how the deadly storm surge that killed half a million people in Bangladesh in 1970 led to that nation's fight for independence;
* how the largest tsunami in recorded history carried three fishing boats from a bay in Alaska into the Pacific Ocean--and the father and son who survived to tell the tale;
* how a ten-year-old English girl saved dozens of people during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and why elephants were able to save so many lives;
* how the sea affects El Niños and climate change, and whether sea level rise due to global warming will put our coasts underwater;
* how today's scientists are working to predict the sea's next disaster using a vast global array of oceanographic sensors--on buoys, on ships, on islands, along coasts, and on satellites --to provide the huge quantities of real-time data needed by computer prediction models.
This richly textured narrative, with its sweeping look at more than 1,000 years of ocean history and science, will captivate readers even beyond those already interested in the ocean, naval history, marine science, or the environment.
The Power of the Sea describes our struggle to understand the physics of the sea, so we can use that knowledge to predict when the sea will unleash its fury against us. In a wide-sweeping narrative spanning much of human history, Bruce Parker, former chief scientist of the National Ocean Service, interweaves thrilling and often moving stories of unpredicted natural disaster with an accessible account of scientific discovery. The result is a compelling scientific journey, from ancient mans first crude tide predictions to todays advanced early warning ability based on the Global Ocean Observing System. It is a journey still underway, as we search for ways to predict tsunamis and rogue waves and critical aspects of El Niño and climate change caused by global warming.
About the Author
Bruce Parker is a world recognized expert in the oceans. He is former Chief Scientist of the National Ocean Service in NOAA and presently Visiting Professor at the Center for Maritime Systems at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He has a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from The Johns Hopkins University. Among his awards are the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal and the Commodore Cooper Medal from the International Hydrographic Organization. He lives in Virginia.
Table of Contents
When the Sea Turns Against Us--Escaping its fury through prediction * The Earliest Predictions For the Sea--The tide * The Moon, the Sun, and the Sea--The tide predictions for D-Day * The Seas Greatest Killer--Predicting storm surges * Defending Our Coasts--Flooded Cities * Stormy Seas--Predicting sea, swell, and surf * “Holes” in the Surface of the Sea--Rogue waves * The Seas Response to an Unpredictable Earth--Trying to predict tsunamis * December 26, 2004 (Part 1)--Tragic surprise in the Indian Ocean * December 26, 2004 (Part 2)--Learning from a tragedy * Predicting the Future - and Saving Lives--El Niño, climate change, and a global ocean observing system * Endnotes * Acknowledgment s * Index
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