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Global Climate Change Digest

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



Item #d98nov40

On Oct. 17, the Canadian icebreaker Des Groseilliers docked in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, after spending a year frozen into a drifting ice floe and drifting 1800 miles with the floe. The ship was host to the SHEBA (Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean) Program, which was designed to measure heat flows among the water, ice, and air of the high Arctic to improve the mathematical modeling of global climate change. The international program is being funded largely by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Japanese Office of Naval Research.

The New York Times of Oct. 20 featured a conversation with Richard Moritz of the University of Washington, who is the director of the project. He described the coming task of reducing and analyzing the data collected with thousands of sensors during the operation. He noted some preliminary findings: 1998 was “markedly warmer than past years,” the ocean was free of ice farther north than normal, the ice broke up earlier in the spring than usual, and the surface water was less saline because of the fresh water from the melting ice. The warmer temperatures may have resulted from the 1997-1998 El Niño, but “could also reflect a global-warming trend.”

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