Friday, April 28, 2006

Marine layer

Who uses it: Residents of coastal California
What it means: A cool, gray layer of heavy cloud and fog, caused by warm air from the land pushing up vapor from the ocean; the scientific term is "advection fog."
How you can use it: To explain why spring in Los Angeles isn't always warm.

Dang it, I'd almost finished a very long post when my power cord jiggled wrong and I lost the whole thing. GRR.

First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS to my client and pal Theresa Schwegel, whose book OFFICER DOWN won the Edgar last night for Best First Novel by an American Author. I am so excited and happy for Theresa, I'm practically foaming at the mouth. It's wonderful, wonderful news, and if you haven't read OFFICER DOWN yet, what are you waiting for?

Rather than recreate the rest of the post, I will just say that I'm here in Los Angeles, and everyone should come out tonight for The Mystery Bookstore's pre-Festival of Books signing party, which starts at 5:00 p.m. I will probably not be there right at 5:00 (strategically-timed dinner break), but I'll be at the store from 1:00 p.m. until at least 9:00, so come by and say hello. I'll also be at the store's booth, #411, on the UCLA campus all day tomorrow and Sunday.

What I Read This Week
Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus. Wonderful and deeply strange, not only in subject matter but in structure as well: multiple points of view, unreliable narrators, and everything so firmly tongue-in-cheek it takes a while to realize how serious Carter is. Renowned aerialist Sophie Fevvers appears to be half-woman, half-bird; an American journalist, John Walser, joins the circus in order to follow her across Europe and discover the nature of her secrets -- which turn out to be not so different from any woman's.

Jonathon King, Eye of Vengeance. Jonathon King is a talented writer who's written some excellent books. Eye of Vengeance, his first standalone, disappointed me. Nick Mullins, a journalist who lost his wife and one of his daughters to a drunk driver, learns about vengeance and forgiveness as he reports a series of killings in southern Florida. The victims are all bad guys who got off easy; the killer is someone with whom Nick feels a deep kinship. The book felt under-developed and too full of cliches, and needed an editor who paid more attention to inconsistencies and errors. I look forward to Mr. King's next book.

Garry Wills, The Rosary. A short, lovely series of meditations on the twenty mysteries of The Rosary -- Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Wills offers real insight into the value of praying to Mary, who was the first human to experience the marvelous, baffling, frustrating and painful divinity of Jesus.

Randy Wayne White, Dark Light. Within the 13 books of White's Doc Ford series, some books are sequels to each other. You could read this one alone, but it's better if you've already read the fourth novel, Captiva; this book brings back a couple of Captiva's major characters, and continues the historical exploration of 1940s Gulf Coast Florida. In the wake of a Category IV hurricane, marine biologist and sometime covert operative Doc Ford and his friends salvage what seems to be Nazi memorabilia from an old shipwreck. A mysterious woman with family ties to the wreck is interested in what they find, as is a very nasty bad guy whose family has secrets to hide.

1 comment:

James Lincoln Warren said...


Advection fog and the "marine layer" are not remotely the same thing.

Advection fog is the kind of fog you find in San Francisco, London, and Boston, where the water temperature is higher than the dew point temperature of the atmosphere immediately above the surface, leading to thick persistent fog that can last for days. It is also common at sea.

The marine layer is an instance of an "inversion layer", where atmospheric temperatures are greater at higher altitudes than they are at the surface. This is the condition that leads to smog layers in cities such as L.A., Denver, and New York (even though Denver is nowhere near the sea). In L.A., it's called the "marine" layer because the lower temperatures at lower altitudes come from an on-shore flow originating in Santa Monica Bay. Advection fog is almost unknown in Los Angeles.

The other two kinds of fog are "radiation" fog, common in San Diego, where the ground temperature is higher than the atmospheric temperature immediately above it, leading to an afternoon burn-off, and "arctic smoke", common in higher latitudes like the Alaskan Gulf, based on a similar condition to radiation fog, except that the surface temperature is from the water instead of the land, where the fog eerily only reaches a few feet into the air. A sight to behold.

I know. I'm an insufferable pedant.