Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Power of the SEA: tsunamis, storm surges, rogue waves, and our quest to predict disasters

The new book "The Power of the Sea" by Bruce Parker tells the story of our struggle to predict when the sea will unleash its power against us. It interweaves thrilling stories of unpredicted natural disasters with stories of scientific discoveries.

"The Power of the SEA: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters" a fascinating and compelling new popular ocean science/history book from Palgrave Macmillan written by Bruce Parker, former Chief Scientist of the NOAA's National Ocean Service.

When the sea turns its enormous power against us, our best defense is to get out of its way.
But to do that we must first be able to predict when and where the sea will strike.
If the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, 2004 could have been predicted, 300,000 lives would not have been lost.
If the 30-foot storm surges that have ravaged the coasts of Bangladesh and India over the centuries could have been predicted, millions would not have perished.
If we could have predicted when and where 100-foot rogue waves would suddenly appear, thousands of ships would not have been lost at sea.
If the two strong El NiƱos at the end of the nineteenth century could have been predicted, millions would not have died in Asia from the resulting droughts and famines.

"Mixes hair-raising descriptions of disasters with efforts to understand them... a lucid, original contribution to popular science writing."- Kirkus Reviews

"Riveting readers with analyses of catastrophes such the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Parker delivers science in dramatic and digestible form." - Booklist

"Whether you love history, science, or just want to know how the world shapes our lives, this is both an informative and enjoyable read." -- Margaret Davidson, Director, Coastal Services Center

"Compelling personal stories ... make the book immensely readable ... Be warned, you may never look at the ocean the same way again." - John Kretschmer, Sailing magazine

"An engaging and essential history of science. It's also a terrific account of survival on our wild blue planet." - David Helvarg, author of Saved by the Sea: A Love Story with Fish

"Rarely does a book written by a practicing scientist grab you like this one. Intelligent, accurate, and accessible ... read Bruce Parker's wonderful book." - Richard Ellis, author of The Empty Ocean

"The Power of the Sea is the best book I have ever read about tsunamis, storm surges, or rogue waves." - Jerry Schubel, President, The Aquarium of the Pacific

"You will come away with a better understanding of why the sea will leave us in awe till the end of time." - Jim Cantore, The Weather Channel

The Power of the Sea tells the story of our long struggle to understand the physics of the sea so we can use that knowledge to predict when the sea will unleash its power against us (so we can get out of its way and survive).
It interweaves compelling stories of unpredicted marine disasters with fascinating stories of scientific discoveries, beginning with ancient mankind's strange ideas about the sea and working up to our latest technological advances in predicting the sea's moments of destruction.
Besides the three phenomena highlighted in the book's subtitle, the book also vividly describes how we learned to predict the tides, El Nino, and certain aspects of climate change.

In addition to helping us escape natural catastrophes, marine prediction has also been critical for other purposes, as is dramatically illustrated by several World War II stories, including the (first-ever-told) story of the tide predictions for D-Day, and the story behind the surf forecasting used by the Allies in amphibious landings on the beaches of North Africa and Normandy.
And there are also some lighter stories.
How did Benjamin Franklin "magically" make ocean waves disappear (and how did this help him understand how wind waves were generated - 200 years ahead of his time)?
How did a perigean spring tide almost ruin the Boston Tea Party?
How do elephants "hear" a tsunami coming?
Did the parting of the Red Sea begin with a tide prediction by Moses?
How did a rogue wave begin the myth of the Bermuda triangle?
Could the story of Noah's flood have been inspired by a huge storm surge from a very rare tropical cyclone in the Persian Gulf?

Written for a general audience, The Power of the Sea is a history of marine prediction that dramatically shows how the oceans (and marine science) impact all our lives.
It is entertaining while also clearly explaining the science behind the ocean's most powerful phenomena.

For more information and pictures from the book see the the book's
Facebook page, where many stories are posted, or go to the book's page on Amazon.

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