We live at the bottom of an ocean of air - 5,200 million million tons, to be exact. It sounds like a lot, but Earth's atmosphere is smeared onto its surface in an alarmingly thin layer. Shrink the earth to the size of a basketball and our atmosphere would be as thick as a layer of food wrap - 99 percent contained within 18 miles. Yet, within this fragile margin lies a magnificent realm - at once gorgeous, terrifying, capricious, and elusive. 18 Miles is a kaleidoscopic and fact-filled journey through our atmosphere and weather. Beginning with the birth of Earth's atmosphere and what would be a typical weather report from three billion years ago, author Chris Dewdney looks at each of the components in our air and reveals to us the invisible rivers in the sky that affect how our weather works and the structure of clouds and storms and seasons, the rollercoaster of climate. He details the history of weather forecasting, looking at weather events from ancient history to the present day, and introduces us to the eccentric and determined pioneers of science and observation whose efforts gave us the understanding of weather we have today. Throughout history, humanity has been obsessed with the weather and the atmosphere - as both evocative metaphor and physical reality. We have been determined to find reliable ways to predict our seemingly unpredictable weather, and in the 21st century, faced with the challenges of climate change, it is more important than ever that scientists are able to study our atmosphere and work out how and why humanity has affected it. From the roaring winds of Katrina to the frozen oceans of Snowball Earth, Dewdney entertains as he gives readers a long overdue look at the very air we breathe.
AUTHOR: Christopher Dewdney is the author of five books of non-fiction and eleven books of poetry. Acquainted With The Night: Excursions into the World After Dark was nominated for both a Governor General's Literary Award and the RBC Taylor Prize. Winner of the CBC Literary Competition for poetry and the 2007 Harbourfront Festival Prize, Dewdney lives in Toronto where he teaches writing at York University.