Publication of the fourth edition of the textbook General Climatology by H.J. Critchfield is in itself a convincing indicator of both the urgency of the problem and the high value of the book. A reader who wants to get acquainted with climatology will find here useful information on climate-forming factors and observational techniques (part 1) and on the observed features of the global climate (part 2), as well as ways to use the information on climate to control natural resources, in agriculture, medicine, construction, etc. For this edition the author has added new material (for instance, data on the climate of oceans), but he has failed to bring the contents into line with the current state of the science in this field.
The book, originally published long ago, contains information mainly on classical (chiefly, descriptive) climatology. However, during the last 2 decades climatology has changed beyond recognition: Some experts even speak about revolution in climatology. Important changes have been connected first of all with intensive and successful development of climate theory, which has led to the transformation of climatology from a descriptive to a physico-mathematical science. The idea of the “atmosphere-ocean-continents-cryosphere-biosphere” climatic system has emphasized the interdisciplinary character of the climate problem, the solution of which should draw on geography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and some other sciences. The use of satellite observations has performed the real revolution in climatology. The solution of the global-scale climate problem can now be based on the use of information (mainly data on cloud cover and the earth's radiation budget) that for the first time covers the entire planet.