Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SCAR releases "Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment"

Those working on issues relating to the Arctic know of the tremendous influence the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) has had far beyond the Arctic since its release in 2004 by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Arctic Council.  A southern hemisphere equivalent has now been published.

In a December 1, 2009, press release the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) publicizes one of its major contributions to the International Polar Year 2007-2008: Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment (ACCE).  Although the report was printed in October in order to be delivered to heads of delegation in advance of the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change, and parts have been published as scientific papers (in Reviews of Geophysics, January 2009), the electronic version is now being publicized broadly.

Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment was edited by Turner, J., Bindschadler, R.A., Convey, P., Di Prisco, G., Fahrbach, E., Gutt, J., Hodgson, D.A., Mayewski, P.A., and Summerhayes, C.P.

As publicity materials indicate, "the report is available from the ACCE page of the SCAR website at http://www.scar.org/publications/occasionals/acce.html, along with copies of the press release, and a document detailing the main 10 points from the report."

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.