$350-million study of North, South polar changes set

Mon, 2007-02-26 12:06Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

$350-million study of North, South polar changes set

Scientists will undertake more than 120 projects using gliding underwater robots , giant icebreaking ships, satellites and other technologies to explore polar climate, biology, geology and ocean chemistry, and they will conduct physics and astronomy studies that can be done only at the poles.

In the Arctic, sea ice in summer has been in an accelerating retreat. In parts of Antarctica, coastal ice shelves and inland ice sheets have been disintegrating and surging seaward in ways that suggest a faster rise in global sea levels in coming decades.

The project will formally begin Thursday. Opening ceremonies will be held today in Washington, London and Strasbourg, France.

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Two oil companies planning to drill in remote Arctic waters, Shell and ConocoPhillips, are pleading with U.S. regulators not to make them follow new guidelines proposed by the Interior Department that would require the companies to keep emergency spill response equipment close at hand and prohibit the use of chemical dispersants.

The precise details of the new rules for Arctic drilling operations have not been made public as an inter-agency review of the Interior Department's proposal is still being carried out.

But records of meetings...

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