Media Advisory
1 December 2009

AGU 2009

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) scientists will present new research at the 2009 American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, California, from December 14 to 18. Below, find highlights of potential interest to journalists. For updates from the meeting, follow NSIDC on Twitter. For a full list of presentations by NSIDC scientists and staff, see the NSIDC Events Web page.

When you are not attending sessions, we hope you visit NSIDC at booth number 325. We offer information on new and updated data sets and tools, data resources for cryospheric and Earth science researchers, and information for journalists, educators, and the general public.

The Arctic's Uncertain Future

Mark Serreze, NSIDC Director
Oral presentation GC33B-01

Global climate models suggest that the Arctic Ocean could become ice free in summer between 2030 and 2100. The loss of ice cover will have significant impacts far beyond the Arctic, including changes in atmospheric circulation, release of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost, and the opening of the Arctic to shipping and oil extraction. However, the nature and extent of these impacts are still far from certain. Serreze will discuss projections of Arctic conditions through the 21st century, and their potential consequences.

1:40 p.m. December 16
Moscone West 3001

Multi-sensor Assessment of Crane Glacier Drawdown 2002-2009, Larsen B Embayment, Antarctica

Ted Scambos, NSIDC Lead Scientist (Chris Schumann, NASA/GSFC presenting)
Oral presentation C34A-07

Before its dramatic collapse in March 2002, the Larsen B Ice Shelf served as a buttress for Crane Glacier, moderating its flow into the ocean. When the ice shelf collapsed, Crane Glacier sped up, more than doubling its speed in just a few months. With the speed-up came intense cracking and fracturing, and the glacier rapidly shrunk in size. NSIDC and NASA researchers are studying the elevation and flow changes that Crane Glacier is undergoing, using satellites and GPS. Understanding the effects of an ice shelf breakup on Crane Glacier could help researchers better predict how other glaciers will respond to similar events as temperatures warm in the region.

4:00 p.m. December 16
Moscone West 3014

Precipitation Impacts of a Shrinking Arctic Sea Ice Cover

Julienne Stroeve, NSIDC Research Scientist
Poster presentation C41A-0425

New research suggests that the decline of Arctic sea ice may be having impacts on weather and snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere. Stroeve and colleagues compared Arctic atmospheric conditions and precipitation patterns in years with low and high summer sea ice extent. Global climate models predict that Northern Hemisphere snow cover will decrease as climate warms, but this study suggests that larger expanses of open water in autumn may cause snow cover to increase in some areas.

8:00 a.m. to Noon December 17
Moscone South Poster Hall

Fundamental Dynamics of the Permafrost Carbon Feedback

Kevin Schaefer, NSIDC Research Scientist
Poster Presentation B41C-0333

As the Arctic grows warmer, thawing permafrost will release greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane from organic matter frozen since the last ice age. At the same time, warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons will increase plant uptake of carbon dioxide from the air. Currently, carbon uptake by increased plant growth outweighs the release of carbon from permafrost, but at some point the balance will reverse and the Arctic will become a net source of carbon to the atmosphere. If we reach this “tipping point,” the release of carbon from thawing permafrost will amplify warming due to fossil fuel emissions, complicating global efforts to combat climate change. In this poster presentation, Schaefer discusses the dynamics of the carbon feedback cycle.

8:00 a.m. to Noon December 17
Moscone South Poster Hall

Townhall Meeting: Peer-Reviewed Data Publication and Other Strategies to Sustain Verifiable Science

Mark Parsons and Ruth Duerr, NSIDC Data Scientists
Townhall Meeting C53B-01

The peer-review process provides essential objectivity and verifiability to scientific publications. But while traditional experimental results have a clear process for publication, complex digital data sets lack a formal publication process. NSIDC data scientists Mark Parsons and Ruth Duerr co-convene a town hall meeting with Jean-Bernard Minster of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the AGU committee on data, and the ESIP Federation Cluster on Stewardship and Preservation to discuss the future of peer review in data publication.

7:30 p.m. December 17
Moscone West 2008

Multi-decadal surface temperature trends in the East Antarctic using borehole firn temperature measurements and geophysical inverse method

Atsuhiro Muto, NSIDC PhD Candidate
Oral presentation C52A-04

East Antarctica is one of the least explored areas on Earth, and little is known about its past climate. According to preliminary research by NSIDC graduate student Atsuhiro Muto, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet has warmed 0.5 to 0.8 degrees Celsius (0.9 to 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the last 100 years. Over two field seasons from 2007 to 2009, Muto and his co-advisor Ted Scambos set up thermal sensors at five locations on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, as part of the Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica. The sensors consist of a chain of thermometers lowered into a 90-meter (295-foot) deep borehole in the ice sheet, which transmit temperature data hourly via satellite. Muto and colleagues used a year of temperature measurements, along with information about the accumulation rate and other physical characteristics of the ice sheet to infer the temperature of the surface of the ice sheet in the past.

11:05 a.m. December 18
Moscone West 3003

The Future of Polar Information Systems

Mark Parsons, NSIDC Data Scientist
Oral presentation C53B-01

Scientists from around the world came together during the International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007 to 2009, in hopes that intense collaborative study of the poles would catapult our understanding of the poles and changes taking place there. They collected a huge volume of data in a variety of fields, but social and technical barriers stand in the way of archiving and preserving the data for public use. Mark Parsons, manager of the IPY Data and Information Service (IPYDIS), a global partnership of data centers, archives, and networks, will discuss the barriers and successes of polar data management around the world.

1:40 p.m. December 18
Moscone West 3003

For further inquiries, please contact the NSIDC press office at or +1 303.492.1497.

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