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UNH Hosts International Group of Scientists in Preparation for Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Researchers from China, Russia and other countries will attend expedition planning session
DURHAM, N.H. -- The University of New Hampshire later this month hosts a weeklong meeting of international scientists taking part this fall in the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE).

Participants from France, China, Japan, Brazil, Germany, Australia, Russia and other nations will spend the week of April 18 at UNH to plan the expedition, which will result in a 200-year record of past Antarctic climate and environmental change.

Heading the expedition is Paul Mayewski, UNH professor of earth sciences and director of the UNH Climate Change Research Center. Mayewski has helped pioneer the use of ice cores in climate change research, led similar expeditions to the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Himalayas, and is the founder of ITASE.

The co-convener of the UNH conference is Ian Goodwin, Global Change Programme Coordinator of the Antarctic Climate Research Centre in Australia.

The ITASE will entail 14 international teams each following prescribed routes, stopping every 100 kilometers, drilling ice core samples, and continuing on. The result will be a comprehensive climate record of the Antarctic.

"Because of the remoteness of the continent, Antarctica is an ideal location to monitor biogeochemical cycles and local-to-global scale climate change," says Mayewski. "However, this remoteness also has prevented the collection of instrumental records, similar to those collected in the northern hemisphere that are required to assess Antarctica's role and response to environmental and climate change."

The expedition's scientific objectives include determining the variability of the Antarctic climate over the last 200 years and, where data are available, the last 1,000 years.

ITASE ice core collection is expected to begin in October, and continue through December. Teams will then return to the Antarctic in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002.

In connection with the project, Mayewski is working with officials at Boston's Museum of Science to provide educational outreach. Live updates of teams' progress across the ice might be made via satellite and phone transmissions. A web site also may provide updated info as ITASE work progresses.

EDITORS, NEWS DIRECTORS: Media opportunities to interview participants will be available. For info, contact Carmelle Druchniak, UNH News Bureau, 603-862-1462.

By Carmelle Druchniak
UNH News Bureau