Subj: Radar measurements in Antarctica
Date: 3/1/01 9:27:27 AM Pacific Standard Time
To: (Kent Steadman)

Hi Kent:

The attached data is NOT from Vostok.  See attached maps.


It is however, part of the result from a study done in 1997/98 collecting
the same type of information with the same techniques currently in use at
Vostok. Also NSF program, run out of the Institute for Geophysics at the
University of Texas, Austin. Also done by SOAR.

I have written to Jack Holt at Austin, asking him where I might find recent
similar data, explaining that I am interested in the pole shifts. I have
collected Russian biblio data, and other notable fragments, which I will
send along later today. Very hard to find recent Vostok data. I find it
interesting (ironic) that Russia would name their data station after their
main satellite for Internet links and a space program...trying to flesh out
the connection on this fact today...scalar technology doubles as
communications equipment. I dont read Russian!! Link for
statistics for proxy servers for first 6 months of 2000 is:

ANY THOUGHTS! I will try to ORGANIZE all of this today, and send along.

PS. I am a work at home mom, from Upstate NY, writer and proofreader. I
appreciate your candor and honesty. I like anonymity, however, since it lets
me float freely.

Subj: Vostok and plate tectonics
Date: 3/1/01 5:28:01 PM Pacific Standard Time
To: (Kent Steadman)

The following information may support Dr. Mason's issues of tectonic concern. The ice on Antarctica is indeed melting, and the consequent uplifting of the crustal plate would then create a very interesting rearrangement of the global structure. Most of what we hear about is ice melt due to the ozone depletion. There may be earthly reasons for the melting ice. The second article describes a communications array being built to relay data faster from the Antarctic, and the third is a press release indicating a massive upgrade of hardware contracted to Lockheed. Whatever it is they are discovering, it sure is getting a step up in priority status.

1) Source:         NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (

Date:         Posted 12/15/2000

Scientists See Earth Move In Antarctica
New investigations of the spreading of Earth's crust in Antarctica may change existing estimates of tectonic plate motion around the Pacific Ocean Basin.

Tectonic deformation in western Marie Byrd Land and the Ross Embayment area apparently occurs as the continent separates. Possible causes of the deformation include the separation and crustal uplift caused by isostatic rebound following the last glacial maximum, about 14,000 years ago. Isostatic adjustment is vertical movement caused when weight is added or subtracted from parts of the Earth's crust. When a glacier is at its heaviest, the crust falls; as it melts or moves from that part, the crust rises.

"It is widely accepted that the Ross Sea region is undergoing active deformation, but the rates and causes of deformation are essentially unknown. Tectonic extension may be occurring in the Ross Embayment during the current separation of West and East Antarctica," said Dr. Bruce Luyendyk, principal investigator and chair of the Geology Department, University of California Santa Barbara.

To measure isostatic rebound and tectonic deformation, researchers have installed three autonomous, continuously recording global positioning system (GPS) stations on outcrops in western Marie Byrd Land in concert with a series of stations in the Transantarctic Mountains. This enables scientists to collect data from a large area across the Ross Embayment. Data has been acquired since 1998 and will continue to be monitored for the next several years. Scientists plan site visits to evaluate and upgrade equipment and to collect data.

"So far, the data indicate that spreading is occurring across the Ross Embayment," said Dr. Andrea Donnellan, co- investigator of the project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Future measurements will refine the number."

The joint JPL and UCSB project brings together experts in Antarctic geology and tectonics, tectonic geodesy, and lithospheric deformation. Funding is from the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and NASA's Office of Earth Science Enterprise, Washington, D.C. Donnellan and Luyendyk are co-authors of a paper to be presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on December 18. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. More information is available at .

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found at

2)  and then this:


Autonomous GPS in the Transantarctic Mountains

Recent modeling of the lithospheric response to glacial loading and unloading has determined that the Antarctic lithosphere is likely to exhibit a strong memory of Pleistocene-Holocene deglaciation due to viscoelastic deformation of the lithosphere. Other parameter studies reveal the importance of crustal rheology - lithospheric thickness and mantle viscosity - in determining the response of the lithosphere to more recent glacial cycles. These results provide a template for designing geodetic observation strategies to constrain the past and present state of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), and for interpreting those observations.

Geodetic methods to monitor the mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet include high-precision Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements of horizontal and vertical deformation of the lithosphere, and high-precision measurements of time-varying gravity, from land-based absolute gravity and satellite gravity mapping. Permanent GPS sites on bedrock exist at only a handful of stations around the periphery of the continent, as part of the International GPS Service. To complement these sites, we have initiated implementation of a GPS array in the Transantarctic Mountains (TM), which will provide data to test competing scenarios for the melting history of the Antarctic Ice Sheet since Last Glacial Maximum.

This array is intended to be a continuously operating network spanning over 1000 km in the TM. A dense, campaign-style GPS network has also been installed in the Dry Valleys/northern TM by Dr. Ian Whillans and colleagues. Our continuous TM array is being augmented by a local network in eastern Marie Byrd Land to be installed during this austral summer by Drs. Bruce Luyendyk and Andrea Donnellan. Absolute gravity measurements are being performed at various sites in Northern Victoria Land by NOAA, including one of our GPS sites in the Dry Valleys. The upcoming Gravity Recovery and Atmospheric Change Experiment (GRACE), to be launched by NASA in 2001, will provide a five-year time series of gravity measurements for the entire Antarctic continent, coupled with a synoptic view of changes in the mass of the oceans. The ICESAT mission (launch 2001) will precisely measure the ice sheet surface with a laser altimeter. The goal of our GPS project is to test existing scenarios for past ice sheet behavior, and to provide key ground-based data that may help reduce potential nonuniqueness in interpreting future space-based data sets.

An autonomous Global Positioning System (GPS) station was installed during the 96/97 austral summer at Mt. Coates (-77.8, 162.0) in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. It is the functional prototype of the planned network of continuously operating autonomous GPS stations in the TM. A second station was installed last season at Mt. Cox (-77.5, 162.5). Baselines between the two sites and McMurdo are 110 km and 160 km, and cross the frontal fault system of the TM. The purpose of the network is to measure uplift and horizontal deformation rates associated with post-glacial rebound to sub-cm/yr precision. This information will better constrain models of the history of Pleistocene-Holocene Antarctic deglaciation, and its contribution to global sea level. Predicted post-glacial rebound uplift rates are on the order of 1-2 cm/yr for the ICE-3G model in the area of the Ross Embayment and Central Transantarctic Mountains; the rates for ICE-4G and the revised CLIMAP reconstruction are lower, but still significant. We expect that the data from the network will provide definitive tests of differing glacial chronologies within five years of implementation.

The autonomous GPS stations consist of a high-precision TurboRogue GPS receiver powered by solar panels and a wind generator, and are designed for continuous year-round operations. The data is transmitted once daily via a radio-frequency long range modem to McMurdo Station, where it is sent via Internet to JPL. The data are point positioned daily as part of the JPL FLINN analysis. Thus far, the stations have not remained online during the austral winter, which last year was due to failure of the wind generator. This is the primary technical challenge which we continue to address in designing and implementing the network.

Preliminary rates have been calculated for Mt. Coates for data collected over the last two austral summers. The rates relative to the Internationl Terrestrial Reference Frame are ~-17 + 5 mm/yr in the north component, ~10 + 5 mm/yr in the east component, and~ -5.5 + 10 mm/yr in the vertical; these rates are similar to those for the site at McMurdo station. The vertical rate, which is as yet poorly resolved but not significantly different than zero, is not inconsistent with the predictions of all the glacial chronologies mentioned above. The horizontal rates, which include plate motion, indicate large residual motion relative to the no-net-rotation NUVEL-1 plate motion model. The residual horizontal rates are inconsistent with all of the rebound model predictions and are the subject of ongoing analysis. A longer time series and further analysis will allow us to quantitatively address agreement with the models.

Finally, a parameter study of late Holocene ice fluctuations demonstrates that crustal deformation due to these younger surface mass changes is quite sensitive to both the lithospheric thickness and mantle viscosity. In view of the tectonic and magmatic history, and the ongoing rifting and volcanism in West Antarctica, it is clear that more sophisticated models of the Antarctic lithosphere may be necessary to understand geodetic observations. Advances in modeling the lithospheric response to deglaciation, and availability of high quality GPS observations will lay the foundation for a 3real-time2 monitoring of the mass balance of the WAIS once GRACE and GLAS come online.
Last modified on 7/3/00 by Maggi Glasscoe (


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Lockheed Martin's CSOC Provides Cost Savings to NASA Through Antarctic Ground Network Services Contract

Updated 12:39 PM ET January 26, 2001HOUSTON, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials at Lockheed Martin announced today that the Consolidated Space Operations Contract (CSOC) has entered into a contract agreement with Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC) to provide managed IP Data services in support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Polar programs.

Under the terms of the $885,000, four-year contract, CSOC will install, operate and maintain IP-based connectivity from the University of Miami and the COMSAT facility at Clarksburg, MD to the RPSC Network Operations Center (NOC) in Englewood, Colorado. CSOC will then provide dedicated and redundant T1 connectivity from the NOC to the Antarctic Polar Station via NASA's extensive Wide Area Network, which will include standard Internet connectivity.

"The contract with Raytheon exemplifies CSOC's commitment to commercializing government services as a cost-savings mechanism," said Doug Tighe, program manager for CSOC. "By selling the available capacity on NASA's Wide Area Network (WAN), we are able to revenue share with NASA, thus generating additional commercial income to support government services."

Connectivity has been accomplished using routers connected to two dedicated, full-time full-duplex T1 (1.544Mbps) leased circuits. The routers are capable of supporting DS3 (45Mbps) circuit if and when RPSC desires an upgrade.

The NSF's Polar programs will utilize these CSOC services to enable scientists to transfer, rapidly and efficiently, the large quantities of scientific data gathered each day at the South Pole's McMurdo Ground Station. The new capability will supplement coverage provided by NASA and U.S. Air Force satellites.

CSOC is a $3-billion-plus contract awarded by NASA to Lockheed Martin, who serves as the prime contractor to provide end-to-end space operations Mission and Data Services to both NASA and non-NASA customers. CSOC manages NASA's data collection, telemetry and communications operations that support Earth-orbiting satellites, planetary exploration, and human space flight activities. Services include data acquisition from spacecraft, data transmission to end-users, data processing and storage, ground and space communications, and mission control center operations.

CSOC is part of Lockheed Martin Space Operations (LMSO), a business unit of Lockheed Martin Technology Services headquartered in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. LMSO, a high-tech engineering and science services firm, employs about 4,000 engineers, scientists and support personnel. Services include managing CSOC; software and hardware engineering for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station; mission operations and planning systems design, development, and integration; and human life sciences research.

Andrea Pierce, 281-853-3395,, for Lockheed Martin

Archive: Thu Mar 1  Wed Feb 28  Tue 27  Mon 26  Sun 25  Sat 24  Fri 23  
You already have most of the other information I found on your website. That's amazing!

Subj: Vostok Historical
Date: 3/2/01 6:47:02 AM Pacific Standard Time
To: (Kent Steadman)

Hi Kent:
Am now finding more from earlier material. Three pieces from The Antarctic Project dating back to 1998. Highlights mine:

Ju n e 1 9 9 8 N e w s l e t t e r V o l u m e 7 I s s u e 2

 Is West Antarctica Melting?
Earlier this year, British and American scientists confirmed information that ASOC has been reporting since early last year. Climate change has been adversely impacting the face and the ecosystem of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Southern Ocean. The most obvious example of this is found on the Antarctic Peninsula where approximately 13000 square km of ice shelves have already crumbled or melted due to a 2.5 degrees C temperature increase in the last 50 years, the fastest rate on the planet.
In March, the Larsen B ice shelf calved a 75 miles2 (200 km2) iceberg into the ocean. Dr. Ted Scambos, a research associate at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, predicts the shelfís imminent demise. When that happens, Larsen B, which, at 4800 miles2 (12000 km2), is greater in size than all of the previous half century's icebergs combined, will be the largest ice shelf to collapse completely. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has recorded a 4.5o F (2.5o C) rise in average temperature at Faraday Station since 1947. BAS scientists have stated that Larsen B is "critically unstable" and is "expected to collapse in the next two years." The collapse is expected to be "rapid and irreversible."
This disintegration is not an isolated event. Six ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula have already collapsed or begun to collapse, while a pattern of melting is spreading south. The Wordie Ice Shelf disintegrated in the late 1980s. In 1995, Larsen A and the relatively small Prince Gustav Ice Shelf followed. Larsen B will be next, and Dr. Scambos believes that the more southerly Wilkins and George VI ice shelves may already have shrunk irreversibly.
In the May 28th issue of Nature, Environmental Defense Fund Chief Scientist Dr. Michael Oppenheimer wrote that global warming might push natural, cyclical processes within the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) over the top and contribute to its collapse during the next 100 to 1,000 years. This could raise sea levels by 4 to 6 meters, and it could take more than ten thousand years for the WAIS to reform. Dr. Oppenheimer called the threat ì...too large and irreversible to be relegated to a list of imponderables for consideration at a later date.î
Regional warming in the Antarctic Peninsula is already taking its toll on the marine food chain, and researchers are detecting a decline in krill populations. (See The Antarctica Project newsletter, vol. 6, issue 1. )
The rhetoric over how to respond to greenhouse gas emission limits has been dominated by the oil industry's questionable scenarios of economic hardship. These scenarios do not take into account the cost of warming to the environment and to our quality of life. It is now time for governments to sit down and take this issue seriously instead of playing their political games. Write to your government officials to express your dismay with their current actions and demand that they take serious action.
Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary Update
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) held its 50th annual meeting 16-20 May in Muscat, Oman. It was clear that the deadlock between the whalers and anti-whalers continues, and that the whales are the losers. Whaling will continue in defiance of the moratorium, including Japanese scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (SOS). Japan and five Caribbean nations proposed an immediate end to the SOS, although this was later withdrawn. (38 NGOs charged that Japan has pressured small island nations to support whaling.)
The IWC adopted a resolution urging Japan not to issue permits to kill 400-plus minke whales in the Southern Ocean, but this is non-binding on Japan who is exploiting its sovereign power to grant scientific research permits. The whalemeat from this "research" will again be put on sale in Japan. The IWC also passed a resolution asking Norway to stop commercial whaling in the North Atlantic, but Norway has a legal "objection" to the moratorium, and began a new whaling season on May 3rd.
A Resolution was adopted advising the Scientific Committee about the purpose of the SOS, and recommending research on depleted whale numbers and environmental change. The IWC specifically reaffirmed its commitment to conduct research on chemical pollution and to continue its cooperative studies with CCAMLR and GLOBEC on baleen whale prey and habitat.
A subcommittee was created to investigate reports of illegal whalemeat sales in Japan after New Zealand scientists discovered that meat from protected species (humpback, blue, fin, and sei whales) was on sale in Japanese and South Korean whalemeat markets.

Update on NASAís Plan to Exploit Lake Vostok as a Stepping Stone to Europa  
The plan to penetrate the pristine waters of Lake Vostok in order to prepare for a mission to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, was presented at the annual meeting of the Polar Research Board on May 1st by Dr. Frank Carsi, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). There was no mention of conducting a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) of the activity to evaluate the likelihood of environmental impact, and thus conclude if the drilling project could go forward without contaminating the lake. Dr. Carsi did not respond directly to a question from TAP's Director, about whether consideration had been given to abandoning the project at this time if a CEE concluded that the technology was not available to ensure the sterility of the lake. (Note that at the ATCM, Russia stated that a CEE would be conducted and circulated for comment.)
Discovered in 1994, Lake Vostok is a freshwater lake the size of Ontario buried by two and a half miles (4 km) of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. NASA scientists estimate Lake Vostok's age at 35 million years. It may contain microbial life, and if it does, its ecosystem will probably be totally unique. An article printed in the 20 June 1996 edition of Nature estimated that this lake has been completely isolated for 500,000 years.
The proposal to drill into Lake Vostok raises serious concerns, both substantive and procedural. First is the need to preserve a pristine part of Antarctica. TAP and ASOC believe that at a minimum, no drilling should be allowed until technologies are developed that ensure there is no contamination of Lake Vostok by foreign microbes, drilling fluids or any other contaminants. Second, it is absolutely essential for the Treaty Parties to ensure that all appropriate procedures are followed in accordance with international law, including the Environmental Protocol.
Europa is one of the four largest Jovian moons, first seen by Galileo. It is the smoothest object in the solar system, with a surface of frozen water. NASA officials think the Jovian tides have thawed an ocean of liquid water underneath the ice. Speculating that life may exist in this theoretical, extraterrestrial ocean, NASA plans to send a robot, and to exploit Vostok for a trial run.
NASA understands that a Europa mission must proceed with extreme caution. Otherwise, contamination might corrupt the science and change Europa forever. With a single mistake, that is precisely what could happen to Lake Vostok. Therefore, it would be a grievous error to rush into this experiment. Although it may be earthly, Lake Vostok, which probably contains some of the oldest waters on this planet, deserves consideration in its own right. It is more than just a test site.

The Antarctica Project
The Secretariat for the Antarctica and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC)
December 1999, Volume 8, Issue 3/4


Lake Vostok is an exceptional hydrological phenomenon located under 4km of ice, 250 km in length and 50 km wide -- approximately the size of Lake Ontario in the United States. The subglacial lake, which was discovered in the 1970s, has depths ranging from 10-500 meters and is estimated to be at least 35 million years old and probably completely protected from any human impact. Scientists are betting that unique forms of life, presently unknown to humans, inhabit its waters.

The lake¹s uniqueness stems from its size, estimated age, and geological properties. Due to its magnitude it hasn¹t frozen. The prospect of unknown life forms, especially microorganisms, is one of the most compelling arguments for penetration of the lake. Scientists believe it could be located on an active tectonic rift, with warmer waters supporting potentially abundant life. Assuming the lake is very old there is hope that an extensive sedimentary record exists, which could help determine the lake¹s origin and address larger questions such as its tectonic history.

A workshop held September 26-27 in Cambridge, UK to address the future of Lake Vostok included representatives from ASOC, the National Science Foundation, Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), NASA, and scientists and observers from around the world. The workshop focused on the merits of research in sub-glacial environments in general as well as the particular situation of Lake Vostok, and discussed the current technological and organizational capacity to conduct this research. Needless to say, strong political and economic interests were not absent among workshop participants.

The workshop helped to define the current interests of national governments and scientific sub-groups. NASA has demonstrated a keen interest in the lake as a place to test some technology needed for their space exploration program. NASA's agenda and timetable is driving the whole process by creating hype regarding a drilling program to probe Lake Vostok. NASA would like to use the lake as a testing ground for a planned 2003/04 mission to Jupiter, a mission that would involve probing a similar frozen polar lake on one of Jupiter¹s moons, Europa. Since the date is approaching rapidly, there is a narrow window in which the proposed Vostok probe could be sunk into the lake. The Russians view the lake as an opportunity to maintain their leadership in Antarctic science and to gain financial assistance for their Antarctic "Vostok" station ­ where drilling was stopped two years ago about 150 meters above the lake¹s surface.  [WHY?]  Microbiologists would like to study life in extreme environments -- especially if there are unknown varieties! The geologists are divided -- all would like to get to the lake¹s underlying bedrock, but for some the lake is just a big impediment.

Research on Lake Vostok can involve both non-intrusive methods and more direct approaches -- such as drilling. Non-intrusive research (research without actual lake penetration) involves techniques like remote sensing and radio echo sounding. For drilling there are two options: the slower and dirtier traditional drilling, which allows for a continuous ice core; and, the faster and cleaner hot water drilling, which only allows for interrupted extractions. NASA prefers the latter. However, there are numerous other drilling options that wouldn¹t jeopardize the lake, including obtaining cores from the ice flowing over it, on both the upstream and downstream sides.

Two central research issues for Lake Vostok are contamination of samples, and contamination of the lake itself. Contamination can be biological or chemical, and workshop participants discussed the basis for both. They stressed that some criteria for acceptable levels of contamination should be established, while NASA argued that its Planetary Protection standards are much higher than those of the Antarctic Treaty System. In reality, there is substantial speculation as to whether NASA¹s standards would be adequate for protection of the lake.

ASOC outlined its viewpoint, that the current risks of intrusive research to the ultimate scientific and environmental values of Lake Vostok are not worth taking ­ at least not anytime soon. ASOC suggested serious consideration of establishing Lake Vostok as a protected area with enhanced status under Annex V of the Protocol. ASOC questions the capacity of late 20th century technology to protect the lake and believes better methods will evolve. Under any scheme put forward, however, a Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation, as required by the Protocol on Environmental Protection, would have to be produced and reviewed by all member governments, and there would have to be substantial public participation in that process. ASOC also suggested that scientists first consider research on one of the other 60-80 subglacial lakes in Antarctica first.

What happens next for Lake Vostok remains up in the air. Discussions over the organization of research at Lake Vostok are inconclusive. The National Science Foundation has rejected NASA¹s funding request to develop the Vostok probe. What is certain about the lake is its incredible uniqueness and value to science. Among diverging points of view, vested political interests are a central part of the equation and will color the final outcome. It is obvious that Lake Vostok is precious to the entire world, and worth protecting. A rush to drill into it would be short-sighted.

The Antarctica Project
The Secretariat for the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC)
April 2000, Newsletter, Volume 9, Issue 1

Antarctica and Climate Change
Reports and research supporting the reality of climate change continue to mount, even though we are far from understanding the full consequences. 1998 was the hottest year on record and it seems that the 1990s -- based on Antarctic ice cores and other scientific evidence -- is the hottest decade of the millenium. Weather phenomena have been more extreme, with freakish floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.

But what does the prospect of climate change mean for Antarctica? Since the mid-1940s the average temperature on the Antarctic Peninsula has risen 3-4 degrees -- 10 times the global average. Meanwhile, the temperature on most of the continent itself has increased only by roughly a degree over the same amount of time. Global warming seems to be having a notable effect in this area of the world.

A study submitted to the Journal of Glaciology in March 1999 by a team of scientists, two from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, supports the widely-held belief in the scientific community that ice shelves on the Peninsula are retreating. The investigation examined "in situ" and remote sensing data and related a number of characteristics of the shelves, such as calving of smaller, elongated bergs, associated with rapid shelf retreat. The researchers noted that the mean melt season in the Peninsula has increased by several days in the 1990s. They hypothesize that the heightened melting is working to destabilize the ice shelves. As the melt water forms ponds on the ice, it infiltrates into the shelf¹s naturally occurring cracks, in turn creating fractures. The presence of melt water ponds close to sites of shelf breakup and the scientific modelling of the Larsen A and B ice shelves supports the overall hypothesis.

Ice shelf breakup has been evident in recent years with both the Larsen B and Wilkins Ice shelf retreating alarmingly in 1998, while the Larsen A ice shelf began disintegrating quite suddenly in 1995. In April, the second largest iceberg ever broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf. Measuring 185 miles x 23 miles, it contains about 3.4 trillion gallons of fresh water. This can be compared to the 550 billion gallons in the New York City reservoir system.

Perhaps a more globally important question for climate change is related to the massive East and West Antarctic ice sheets. TheWest Antarctic ice sheet, measuring about 360,000 square miles, is the larger of the two. Both sheets are composed of many ice streams, responsible for moving ice from the interior of the continent toward the coastal sea. Recent data from a joint U.S.- Canadian Radarsat satellite project estimates that for the West Antarctic sheet, one system of ice streams alone can transport 19 cubic miles of ice to the sea each year.

Scientists have speculated for some time that global warming could induce the West Antarctic sheet to increase the rate of flow toward the Southern Ocean. It has been estimated that if the ice sheet were to slip into the sea, global sea levels would rise by roughly 17 feet, thus inundating coastal regions everywhere, with enormous consequences for the planet, including Antarctica. They surmise that the West Antarctic ice streams, which slide along the continent¹s bedrock on a layer of liquid water and mud, could speed up if temperatures increased.

The Radarsat data showed that the same kind of ice streams capable of transporting ice from inside the continent to its periphery also exist for the East Antarctic ice sheet. Before this time it was thought that the East Antarctic ice sheet was attached to the continent¹s bedrock and therefore such rapid conveyance was not possible. Scientists now believe that these streams are also capable of rapidly transporting large quantities of ice. However, since the physical dynamics of West and East Antarctic ice sheets are presumed to be different, the link as to whether global warming would speed up stream flow for the East Antarctic ice sheet is less clear.

There also is some data suggesting that the West Antarctic ice sheet has been receding because of natural processes presumed to have started thousands of years ago. Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Maine have used data collected from raised beaches and radar imaging to calculate the historic position of the West Antarctic sheet. Their findings indicate that it has both thinned and diminished since the last glacial apex 10,000 years ago. Roosevelt Island, situated in the Ross Sea, is now surrounded by floating ice while the evidence suggests that around the time of the ice age the ice was roughly 487 meters thick.

There are still many unknowns related to the topic of ice behavior in Antarctica. According to Dr. Kenneth Jezek, a glaciologist from the Byrd Polar Research Center, when referring to glaciers "there are mixed signals almost everywhere you turn, with little consistent pattern." But for now, says Dr. Ghassem Asrar, a scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the theme, "We¹ve made a start!"

Decreases in sea ice around the peninsula are most likely hurting Adelie penguin populations. Less than 30 years ago there were more than 15,000 Adelie penguin pairs in the proximity of the U.S. Palmer Station. Today there are approximately half that number ‹ 7,770 pairs.

The U.S. News and World Report recently ran an article linking changes on the continent to global warming. It discusses the work of Bill Frasier, chief scientist at Palmer Station, who believes the decrease in Adelie pairs is attributable to a reduction in the extent of sea ice and increases in amounts of precipitation, both as a result of warmer Peninsula temperatures. At mid-century four out of every five winters brought extensive sea ice; now only two in five bring the heavy ice. The Adelies count on this ice for their food, since young krill find shelter underneath the ice during their first winter. With less sea ice, this food source is decreased and could dramatically reduce the Adelie population. Chinstrap penguins also feed on krill, but since they seek krill in the open sea their populations are increasing probably due to the shorter distance to open sea. Researchers have noted that Adelie populations around Palmer have been falling since the mid-80s, while the Chinstraps are thriving. The Adelies also are not able to adapt to greater amounts of snow, which is now more common due to warmer temperatures bringing more moisture. This species has continued to lay their eggs in regions where the snow is the thickest, leading to the death of the chicks, once the extremely cold meltwater arrives in the spring.

According to the report other species such as Southern Elephant seals, are showing up in strange places. These seals typically raise their pups farther north in warmer climes such as the Falkland Islands. Nevertheless, this past season, 254 of them were spotted on two islands close to Palmer Station. Also, fur seals were not found on the Peninsula before mid-century; however, a few years ago research vessels discovered 2000 not too far from the Peninsula. Furthermore, there is evidence that lichen and mosses on the Peninsula are beginning to thicken in many places.

While there are clear indications that the workings of climate change are beginning to emerge on the continent, there exist many unanswered questions. Now it is of utmost importance that globally important science on the continent is amply supported. Evidence alone of disintegrated ice shelves, rising temperatures, and changes in flora and fauna warrants extensive examination of what effects humans have produced and what effects they will continue to produce on our planet, including Antarctica. There are currently great gaps in this research, not the least of which is the study of Antarctica¹s ice sheets, ice shelves and glaciers. Yet, with new scientific data, such as NASA and the Canadian Space Agency¹s recent high definition satellite images, a broader, more in-depth understanding of these changes will begin to emerge, which will allow decision makers ample information to help protect the Ice. Ultimately this requires action -- and tough decisions -- by governments. The next negotiation under the Kyoto Protocol, which will takes place in the Hague from November 13-24, is a good place to start.

Subj: ASOC Position on Vostok
Date: 3/2/01 7:04:02 AM Pacific Standard Time
To: (Kent Steadman)

Early ASOC position on drilling at Vostok. By this time, the Russians had already gotten to near 125m of the actual lake?
Lake Vostok Workshop: Drilling for Dear Life, England, September 1999

Lake Vostok is to Antarctica what Antarctica is to the rest of the planet:

remote, pristine, and unique.
Matters that should be considered before deciding whether or not to drill into Lake Vostok

*    Research on subglacial environments is a legitimate and important Antarctic scientific activity but it should not be the only basis for deciding if or when to drill at Lake Vostok (or elsewhere).
*    Late 20th century technology will arguably be obsolete within a generation. Serious consideration should be given to the likelihood that technological developments in, say 20-50 years, could significantly reduce or perhaps fully avoid the risk of harmful impacts.
*    The risks of intrusive research to the ultimate scientific and environmental values of Lake Vostok are not worth taking. Since there are 60-80 subglacial lakes in Antarctica, there are arguments that any scientific drilling should be attempted somewhere else first.
*    Lake Vostok is not suitable for use to further technological research and development. Testing new technology at Lake Vostok with ulterior purposes is unacceptable even if one of the results of this test would help further basic science.
*    A CEE should consider (1) the difference between pure science from technology research and development; (2) the alternatives of using other, smaller lakes; (3) a moratorium on any drilling into Lake Vostok and (4) the merits of the "full protection" option for Lake Vostok.

*    There is a case for designating Lake Vostok as a protected area with enhanced protection status under Annex 5 of the Protocol.


*    ASOC is concerned that it has been decided a priori that something must be "done" with Lake Vostok as soon as technically possible, seemingly foreclosing the option of not drilling at the Lake.
*    The most appropriate option to protect the ultimate scientific and environmental values of Lake Vostok, would appear to be to postpone drilling the lake for the indefinite future.
*    Scientists interested in subglacial research should consider a range of alternatives to drilling into Lake Vostok. This will require foresight and forbearance.

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Space Invaders

Recent interest in Antarctica as a model for space exploration has raised concern within the environmental and scientific communities that Antarctica's scientific values might be compromised. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA has been contracted by NASA to develop an "Antarctica as a Europa Analog" initiative. This proposed program will develop technologies to explore and look for possible life in Lake Vostok, Antarctica, as a model for exploring Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter. As a matter of both international and U.S. law, any possibility of using any part of Antarctica must be preceded by scrupulous adherence to strict environmental assessment procedures. The Antarctica Project believes that there are sound policy reasons for not using Lake Vostok for this project at this time.

Lake Vostok (see vol. 5 issue 3 of The Antarctica Project newsletter) was discovered under the ice sheet in central Antarctica. Because its waters have been sealed off from the outside world for tens of thousands of years, it is probable that they are among the most pristine on earth, probably harboring ancient life forms. Lake Vostok's value to science is too important to be compromised for the sake of finding a method for exploring other planets.

The discovery of Lake Vostok was first reported by Russian scientists at the 1994 meeting of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). At that time, the Russians were seeking advice about how best to ensure that foreign microbes, drilling fluids and other contaminants would not inadvertently be introduced into the lake. A subsequent expert workshop, held at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, England early in 1995, concluded that it would be imprudent to drill into the lake with existing equipment, and recommended that drilling stop at least 25 m above the lake to

prevent the permeation of drill fluids.

The Antarctica Project and ASOC are very concerned that Lake Vostok will be used as a "stepping stone" in the interests of developing this model, and that proper environmental safeguards will be overlooked. We are also concerned that in the rush to develop this model, the true scientific value of Lake Vostok will be trivialized and compromised. We share SCAR's concern, stated in their Recommendation XXIV-10 (1997), about using Lake Vostok for experimenting "with drilling and sampling techniques that are not proven to be contamination free," and agree that "any intrusive investigation of the lake shall not in any way compromise [its] value" [to science].

In response to the NASA initiative, ASOC has sent letters to both NASA and JPL urging them to consider alternate sites in their quest for discovering viable procedures to explore Europa. If the decision is ultimately made to proceed, we expect that all appropriate procedures, including full public review of the proposal and environmental assessment documents, will be followed.

If you would like to express your concern, write to: Dr. Frank Carsi, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Mail Stop 122-116, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA, and to Dr. Wes Huntress, NASA, 300 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20546. Please send copies of your letters to The Antarctica Project.

For additional information, see Lake Vostok.