Atmospheric chemistry by Ann Holloway and Richard Wayne. RSC Publishing, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-84755-807-7. 260 pp.


The 3rd edition of Richard Wayne's comprehensive and well written book, Chemistry of Atmospheres, was published in 2000 and sadly there has been no update to the book in the last decade. Many advances have taken place in atmospheric chemistry in this time and so I was excited to learn that Richard and colleague Ann Holloway had written Atmospheric Chemistry. As the authors state, the book is intended to be accessible to undergraduate chemists, those that wish to take their studies to a higher level, and the informed non-specialist. There is no doubt that this book will become the staple diet for any undergraduate taking a course in atmospheric chemistry and is indeed a most comprehensive primer for those wishing to pursue further studies. It is concise (just over 250 pages), thoughtfully laid out and illustrated with a good mixture of colour and black and white figures and photographs. Much effort has also been made to reduce the mathematical load in this book compared with the 3rd edition, and I believe this has been achieved successfully without loss of rigour.

Readers of Chemistry of Atmospheres will recognise some of the chapters and sections in this new book: physics of the atmosphere, chemistry of the troposphere and stratosphere, ozone and air glow, aurora and ions. However, there is a considerable effort to introduce new material of a more interdisciplinary nature into this book and this is most welcome. The ‘new’ chapters on sources and sinks, observations and models, cyclic processes, life and the atmosphere and man's adverse influences on the atmosphere recast some previous work but extend them considerably. Topics such as atmospheric modelling and biogeochemistry are particularly well presented.

For non-chemists, some of the chapters may be chemistry heavy, but there is a deliberate effort to convey the overarching chemical principles through well chosen examples rather than to bombard the reader with unnecessary detail. The final chapter on man's adverse influences on the atmosphere is extremely timely and well informed. The most recent austral stratospheric ozone hole data from the GOME and SCIAMACHY satellite observations has been used in this book and illustrates the effort invested to be as recent as possible.

There is much to commend Atmospheric Chemistry and I will certainly be asking our library to stock some copies. It achieves all its objectives and whilst there are some criticisms here and there, they are so trivial that they do not warrant comment. Those who are very familiar with Richard Wayne's work will be particularly pleased to see a completely redrawn version of Figure 1.1.