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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999


Polar Ice-Thinning Observations

Item #d98dec47

At a time when research is showing a thinning of the Arctic ice cap (Global Climate Change Digest, November 1998, p. 9), US News and World Report (Dec. 21, p. 57) reported that the U.S. Navy is ending the Scientific Ice Expeditions (SCICEX) program started in 1993. SCICEX carried civilian scientists under the Arctic ice on Sturgeon-class attack submarines to deploy instrumented probes and to take sonar measurements of the ice cap. Now the Navy is decommissioning its handful of remaining Sturgeon subs, built more than 20 years ago, and relying on Los Angeles-class boats, which may be too busy for scientific cruises. As reported in the November issue of Global Climate Change Digest, the ice above the Arctic Ocean has thinned significantly in recent decades. If the snow-covered polar ice is replaced with dark, open ocean, the planet’s thermostat could be radically altered, so scientists want to continue tracking this phenomenon. Negotiations are under way to persuade the Navy to continue the SCICEX with a Los Angeles-class sub or to keep one Sturgeon-class boat operating for scientific expeditions.

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