Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Statistical Analysis of Climate Extremes: The Blog about the Book. Part 2: The Cover

Manfred Mudelsee

What picture to show on the cover of a book about climate extremes? Such events have a big potential to cost human lives and harm the economy. Illustrate this danger? A photo of a starving child in a desert? The chaos in a city hit by a hurricane? Certainly not.

Photo selection is an intimate matter. Your soul kind of forms a synapse that is open to other souls. Ethical values learned as a child and your aesthetic education enter the arena. Your ratio is rather unimportant, but not turned off.

On the search for a cover picture, my ratio told me to look for red. One reason was pragmatic: on the shelf, the new book should look differently than my previous book on climate and time series, which has a blue cover. Red, for me, also transports a feeling for the danger our climate system is in.

But our mother nature, the undisturbed system, holds a rich beauty. This has to be shown as well. The next ingredient of my filter was preciseness. The picture must not blur the danger nor the beauty. It must correspond to the pursued clarity of the presentation of the mathematical risk formulas in the book. Everyone should understand.

When I first saw the initial selection of my search for “red” and “nature” on Getty Images, I immediately felt that Dhwee’s lagoon photo was it. As a matter of decency, I added a few other pictures and showed the final selection to my wife. It was clear to me that she agreed on the lagoon.

Cambridge then did a great job with the finishing of the cover. No new colours, just red, black and white. The sharpness of the Futura typeface (especially sensible for the “M” of which my name possesses two exemplars) – it reminds me of Wally Broecker’s warning that we humans should not provoke the angry climate beast with greenhouse gases. Fantastic!

Once finished, I am already exploring in my mind the next book project. Blue, red – green! Something with ecology and natural life, somehow analysed by means of mathematical techniques? Give me some time. Let me in this blog series talk about the red book.

Broecker WS (1995) The glacial world according to Wally. Eldigio Press, Palisades, New York, 318 pp. [the 2002 version is available at https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~broecker/Home_files/GlacialWorld.pdf]

Mudelsee M (2014) Climate Time Series Analysis: Classical Statistical and Bootstrap Methods. Second edition. Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 454 pp.

Cambridge University Press is publishing a book of mine on climate extremes. It comes out in May 2020. It is available at to pre-order in print, online for individuals or online for institutions.

Online material for the book: https://www.manfredmudelsee.com/textbook/index.htm

About The Author

Manfred Mudelsee

Manfred Mudelsee is founder of the research company Climate Risk Analysis, and a visiting scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. ...

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