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In this Issue



Issue no. 33, September 2000


New Canadian Precipitation Product

Adjusted Monthly Precipitation, Snowfall and Rainfall for Canada (1874-1990), contains mean monthly rainfall, snowfall and precipitation (the sum of rainfall and snowfall) values from 6,692 stations in Canada. The NOAA National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) bought the original data from the Canadian Atmospheric Environment Service (AES) in the early 1990s and adjusted the measurements to account for inconsistencies and changes in instrumentation over the period of record. NCDC distributes the data set TD-9816, Canadian Monthly Precipitation, which contains both the original and adjusted data. NSIDC has been authorized to release the adjusted data only.

The earliest records are from 1874, and the latest records are from 1990. Stations may have different starting and ending dates. The data are in ASCII fixed format text and are available via ftp. See the data catalog summary for more information and to access the data.

Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project Digital Elevation Model

NSIDC recently released a data set which provides digital elevation model (DEM) data for Antarctica as part of the Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP). The RAMP DEM represents a substantial improvement in horizontal resolution and vertical accuracy over previous digital elevation models, particularly in mountainous and coastal regions.

A primary data source was ERS-1 satellite radar altimeter data from April 1994 to March 1995. Other data include airborne radar data, detailed cartographic data from the Antarctic Digital Database, and large-scale topographic maps from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Australian Antarctic Division. These data were collected from the 1940s to present, with most collected during the 1980s and 1990s. Data for the 1 km and 400 m DEMs are provided in ARC/INFO, binary, and ASCII formats. Data for the 200 m DEM are in ARC/INFO and binary format only.

Data access is unrestricted, but we recommend that users register with us. Registered users of the RAMP DEM data automatically receive e-mail notification of product updates and changes to processing. Data are available by ftp, and are accessible from data catalog summary. Visit the NSIDC RAMP site for more information. Please contact NSIDC User Services if you have any questions.

Bootstrap Sea Ice Algorithm Update

The Bootstrap Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I data set has been updated so that it now contains data through December 1999. This data set is derived from the Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's (DMSP) DMSP-F8, -F11 and -F13, Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) and has been generated using the Bootstrap Algorithm with revised sets of tie-points.

For more information and ftp access to this data, please visit the data catalog summary.

AMSR-E Web Site Available

The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer - EOS (AMSR-E) is one of NASA'S Earth Observing System (EOS) facility instruments and is planned to launch in May of 2001 aboard the Aqua satellite. The AMSR-E is a 12-channel, passive microwave instrument that will view the entire Earth's surface every three to four days, acquiring data in six frequencies. These data will improve our understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the surface of the Earth, in the oceans, and in the lower atmosphere. AMSR-E will play a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment.

AMSR-E was modeled after the AMSR, a 14-channel, 8-frequency passive microwave radiometer. AMSR is a passive microwave instrument that will fly aboard the Advanced Earth Observing Satellite-II (ADEOS-II), scheduled to be launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in November 2001.

AMSR and AMSR-E improve on previous passive microwave radiometers. First, AMSR and AMSR-E have greatly improved spatial resolutions, compared to previous passive microwave radiometers: approximately double the spatial resolution of the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) (1978-1987) and the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) (1987-present). Second, AMSR and AMSR-E each combine in one sensor all the channels that SMMR and SSM/I had individually. Each of the AMSR instruments has the lower channels which were only on SMMR, as well as the higher frequency channel which was only on SSM/I. SMMR had the following channel frequencies (in GHz): 6.6, 10.7, 18, 21, and 37. SSM/I has the following channel frequencies (in GHz): 19.3, 22.3, 37, and 85.5. In comparison, each of the AMSR instruments has the following frequencies (in GHz): 6.9, 10.7, 18.7, 23.8, 36.5, and 89.

The spatial resolution of the AMSR and AMSR-E data varies by product, ranging from 5.5 to 56 km. NSIDC Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) will ingest AMSR-E Level 0 Science and Ground Based Attitude Determination (GBAD) products, Level 1A (raw observation counts), Level 2 (processed and resampled) and Level 3 (gridded) products. NSIDC will also ingest Level 1A data from the ADEOS-II AMSR. The NSIDC DAAC will archive these products in the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Core System (ECS) and distribute them at a cost not to exceed the marginal cost of reproduction and shipping. For more information on AMSR-E products, visit NSIDC's AMSR-E site.


Warming Underscores Imperative for Monitoring of Arctic Climate Systems

Scientists have accumulated a strong body of evidence that the Arctic is warming appreciably. Even after accounting for naturally occurring factors, the researchers say that human activities appear to be responsible for observed climate changes. The results of the study, funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and the Division of Atmospheric Sciences, validate model results that also predict that the Arctic will be among the first regions on Earth to respond to a global warming trend.

Led by Mark Serreze, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, with co-authors J. E. Walsh, F. S. Chapin III, T. Osterkamp, M. Dyurgerov, V. Romanovsky, W. C. Oechel, J. Morison, T. Zhang and R. G. Barry, the research team compared air temperature measurements, atmospheric circulation observations, precipitation data, snow cover and snow depth records, sea ice extent measurements, ocean structure data, permafrost temperature observations, glacier mass balances, plant growth observations, and carbon flux measurements taken over varying periods ranging from centuries to decades, to determine that the 20th century Arctic is the warmest of the past 400 years.

"Results paint a reasonably coherent picture of change," the researchers write in the journal Climate Change. Yet, citing short environmental records of varying quality and limited spatial coverage, the scientists say the study indicates a requirement for improved Arctic monitoring.

"Unfortunately, this requirement is contrary to the closures of various hydrometeorological stations and reductions of other networks in Canada and Russia," they write. For example, the North Pole drifting program was terminated in 1991. Beginning in 1950, The USSR had continuously maintained two and sometimes three drifting ice stations on ice floes for the program. These camps operated as meteorological stations reporting position, surface weather, atmospheric soundings, solar radiation, and snow condition.

"Observational Evidence of Recent Change in the Northern High-Latitude Environment," published in the July 2000 issue of the journal Climatic Change excited national media attention this past week.

Articles covering the research, appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, The Chronicle for Higher Education, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The London Guardian, The L.A. Times, The Dallas Morning News, and on the Associated Press and Scripps Howard Newswires where it was picked up by such regional papers as the Albany Times and others. NSIDC Research Scientist Mark Serreze gave an interview to CNN on the World Today national news T.V. program on August 23, 2000.

For an overview of the status of cold region climate change indicators, see NSIDC's State of the Cryosphere Web site.


Cryospheric Research in China

Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC) The PRIC is the center of China's polar research. Its main tasks are to: carry out research on polar resources and energy resources which highlight polar features (with emphasis on the Antarctic region), draw up long term plans for scientific research, manage polar specimens and samples, compile and publish collected works and periodicals, carry out international polar academic exchange and cooperative expeditions, and take charge of developing, storing and transporting equipment for polar research.

Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAAA) CAAA was formerly the Chinese Antarctic Administration of the State Antarctic Research Committee. Its fundamental task is to organize coordination and management of China's polar expeditions and research.

Chinese Advisory Committee for Polar Research (CACPR) CACPR is an advisory committee whose main responsibilities are to provide advice on polar research to the government, organize academic exchanges, give scientific and technical advice on polar research, evaluate scientific and technological achievements, and direct scientific research activities.

Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology (LIGG) LIGG has been combined with two other institutes. The new name is the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, 260 West Donggang Road, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000, China. The Director is Professor Cheng Guodeng.


NSIDC's State of the Cryosphere Web site was featured in Science Magazine's NetWatch, 23 June 2000.

MODIS: NASA featured MODIS imagery in a recent press release concerning northern hemisphere snow cover. Visit Science@NASA for a related article and images.

Michon Scott (NSIDC science writer) and Ted Scambos (NSIDC glaciologist) contributed to Rocky Mountain PBS's Web site on science and technology in Colorado. Ms. Scott contributed an article on research in Antarctica, and Dr. Scambos was interviewed for a section on "Cool Careers."


NSIDC welcomes two new employees this summer:
Nancy Auerbach, (GIS Development Assistant for the ARCSS program) and Michael Primett (Senior Software Engineer for Raytheon).

Melinda Marquis, GLAS Team Lead, has also assumed the position of AMSR Team Lead.

NSIDC bids farewell to Spencer Shiotani (Software Engineer) and we wish him farewell in his future endeavors.

NSIDC also welcomes two visiting scientists. Dr. Jonathan Bamber is visiting on sabbatical from the School of Geophysical Sciences at Bristol University, and will be at NSIDC until the end of September. Dr Olga Solomina, from the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow, will begin an 8 month, Fullbright-sponsored visit to NSIDC on August 15.


NSIDC has a few extra copies of the following publications that we are making available, free of charge, to our readers. If you would like any of them, please contact NSIDC User Services.

Paterson, W. S. B. 1985. A Numerical Model for Estimating the Response of an Ice Shelf to CO2-Induced Climatic Warming. Boulder, Colorado: CIRES/NOAA.

McInnes, B. J., Budd, W. F., Smith, I. N., Radok, U. 1986. On the Surging Potential of Polar Ice Streams. Part III: Sliding and Surging Analyses for Two West Antarctic Ice Streams. Boulder: CIRES/Meteorology Department, University of Melbourne.

Radok, U., Brown, T. J., Jenssen, D., Smith, I. N., and Budd, W. F. 1986. On the Surging Potential of Polar Ice Streams. Part IV: Antarctic Ice Accumulation Basins and Their Main Discharge Regions. Boulder: CIRES/Meteorology Department, University of Melbourne.

Radok, U., Barry, R. G., Jenssen, D., Keen, R. A., Kiladis, G. N., and McInnes, B. 1982. Climatic and Physical Characteristics of the Greenland Ice Sheet, Parts I and II. Boulder: CIRES.

McInnes, B. 1982. Climatic and Physical Characteristics of the Greenland Ice Sheet, Part III: Maps and Cross Section Diagrams. Boulder: CIRES.