The Stability of the Antarctic Ice Cap to raise sea level by 6 meters if it disappeared. This Because climate change may have its greatest ice sheet is separated from the much larger East Ant- impact on the earth's polar regions, scientists are arctic Ice Sheet by the Transantarctic Mountains and paying close attention to potential changes there. The is like a buttress to many ice streams of the East calving of an enormous iceberg from the Antarctic Antarctic Ice Sheet. Melting of the West Antarctic Ice Peninsula in January 1995 and the possibility that fur- Sheet would be like pulling a cork bottling up the ther deterioration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet streams of the East sheet. If the East Antarctic Ice might destabilize the much larger East Antarctic Ice Sheet were to collapse, many U.S. coastal cities would Sheet have aroused particular concern. be under water or would be an island. Ninety percent The Climate Institute, after studying and consult- of the U.S. population would have to be relocated. ing a number of experts on the stability of the Antarc- Europe, India, China, Japan, and all heavily populated tic ice cap, produced a special report examining how parts of the world would experience similar conditions. climate change might affect the ice sheets if they went In April, the National Science Foundation spon- into partial collapse and how high seas might rise as sored an international meeting to bring together op- a result. posing views for an examination of the scientific evi- dence of ice sheet changes during an era of dramatic According the U.S. Geological Survey geologist climate change, the Pliocene, when temperatures Richard S. Williams Jr., the volume of ice in the Ant- were much higher than at present. Attendees con- arctic is so enormous that significant changes in its cluded that an ice core should be drilled from the in- size and movement would cause global environmen- terior of West Antarctica to pursue an answer as to tal changes. And in turn, changes in the temperature the effect on ice sheets during climate change. The of the atmosphere and oceans could affect the size National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Pro- and movement of the ice sheet. grams will supervise the drilling.® The West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains enough ice Other experiments for this season include seed- 1970 Project Stormfury ing of hurricane rainbands and rain sectors, and continued experimentation on lines of tropical cu- A little something extra is being added to some mulus clouds not associated with hurricanes. of the hurricanes this season, as Project Stormfury Because of the obscuring effects of land on continues seeding to observe the effects on these storms, seeding is being conducted on storms in destructive tropical storms. From the opening of the southwestern Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the its season 23 July to its close at the end of Octo- Gulf of Mexico, when the probability is less than ber, scientists, aircraft, and flight crews assigned 10% that the center of the storm will come within to this joint ESSA-Department of Defense project 50 mi (80km) of a populated area during a pre- are on 48-hr alert for hurricane seeding. scribed period. The major objective of this year's experiments Dr. Cecil R. Gentry, director of ESSA's National is to confirm the efficacy of seeding in diminishing Hurricane Research Laboratory, will continue the force of the hurricane. Beginning in 1961 with as director of Project the eye-wall seeding of Esther, scientists have Stormfury. Assistant been attempting to diminish the force of the storm director and coordina- by seeding to redistribute energy and reduce at- tor for the Navy is Cdr. y63FS mospheric pressure near the eye wall. Project L. J. Underwood, com- Stormfury began officially a year after this first at- manding officer of the tempt. Last year Hurricane Debbie was seeded Fleet Weather Facility repeatedly with a significant drop in windspeed. at Jacksonville, Fla. While the decrease indicated that seeding might Units from ESSA's Re- have caused changes in the storm, scientists have search Flight Facility, MUV not been able to exclude the possibility that such and the Navy, Marines, and changes might have come about naturally. The ex- Air Force are participating in periments are being repeated this year to gather the project. more evidence. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 51,963. 1846 Vol. 76, No. 10, October 1995
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Oct 1, 1995
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