Atmospheric chemistry

Atmospheric chemistry

Ann Holloway and Richard Wayne

Cambridge, UK: RSC Publishing 2010 | 271pp | ?25.99 (HB)

ISBN 9781847558077

Reviewed by Mike Pilling


Richard Wayne’s classic Chemistry of atmospheres was last published in 2000. Much has happened since then; our understanding of atmospheric chemistry has evolved and the importance of atmospheric processes is now much more widely perceived. 

This new book, by Wayne and his colleague Ann Holloway, is therefore very welcome. It is shorter and contains less chemical and physical detail than its predecessor. It is also organised differently.

In addition to the mandatory chapters on the physics of the atmosphere and on the troposphere, stratosphere and mesosphere/thermosphere, about half the book comprises thoughtful chapters on more integrated issues, such as cyclic processes for the key elements and life and the atmosphere.

The final chapter examines man’s adverse influences covering local and regional pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change. The timing is good and the book benefits, for example, from the relatively recent publication of the UNEP/WMO report on ozone depletion and the 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC. 

The book is well illustrated, with many figures benefitting from the use of colour. It draws on material in  Chemistry of atmospheres  (Wayne devotees can be reassured that Neptune still surveys the Antarctic vortex), but there is much that is new and the approach is more accessible. The physical principles are carefully explained, without recourse to mathematics. 

There is lots of chemistry in the detailed chapters, but the more integrated chapters emphasise chemical principles rather than detail. The book is aimed at advanced undergraduate courses, but also at the ’general, scientifically literate reader’. The wealth of chemistry may limit the range of chapters read by the latter group, although all chemists would benefit from reading the whole of this well written and informative book.