CCNet 65/2002 - 31 May 2002

"A study of past climate changes in the South American tropics has
challenged traditional understanding of the mechanisms that triggered the
advance and retreat of glaciers  during the last ice age. "If the
tropics warmed earlier than the northern latitudes, as our study
demonstrates, that means there is  something else influencing climate change
that we don't yet understand."
--Geoffrey Seltzer, Syracuse University, 30 May 2002

    Julie Smith <>

    Cosmiverse, 29 May 2002

    Andrew Yee <>

    NEODyS <>

    UniSci, 30 May 2002

    BBC, 30 May 2002

    Bob Kobres <>

     Josep Maria Trigo i Rodríguez <>

      The Japan TImes, 29 May 2002


>From  Julie Smith <>

NSF PR 02-48

Media Contacts:
Cheryl Dybas, NSF
(703) 292-8070/
Judy Holmes, Syracuse University
(315) 443-5172/

Program Contact:
D Verardo, NSF
(703) 292-8527/


A study of past climate changes in the South American tropics has challenged
traditional understanding of the mechanisms that triggered the advance and
retreat of glaciers  during the last ice age. The National Science
Foundation (NSF) funded study was published in this week's issue of Science.

A research team found that glaciers in the tropical Andes Mountains
retreated several thousand years earlier than North American glaciers during
a period of wet climate conditions, and during a time when the sun's warming
radiation (solar insolation) was at a minimum.

The finding contradicts traditional thinking that climate conditions in the
northern latitudes generate the advance and retreat of global glaciation,
and that glaciers retreated during dry climate conditions and when solar
insolation was at its maximum, said lead researcher Geoffrey Seltzer of
Syracuse University. "If the tropics warmed earlier than the northern
latitudes, as our study demonstrates, that means there is  something else
influencing climate change that we don't yet understand."

David Verardo, director of the NSF's paleoclimate program, which funded the
project, said that Seltzer and his colleagues "offer remarkable insights
into the intricate movements of a climate tango of sorts between the low and
high latitudes as one hemisphere alternately leads or follows in influencing
long-term  weather.  Getting the moves of this tango down is important for
understanding climate."

Added Seltzer, "We know from our experiences with El Nino, that the tropics
are the focus of energy and water vapor that drives the global climate
system. Our research provides a hint that something important happened in
the tropics that could be an important trigger for the last retreat of the
global ice age."  The researchers compared climate data derived from
sediment cores they collected from Lake Titicaca, located on the border of
Peru and Bolivia, and Lake Junin, located in Peru, with published data from
ice cores collected in Greenland and Antarctica. A key component of the
research was an analysis of inorganic sediment accumulation in the lakes.
The researchers found that during periods of maximum glaciation, the
tropical lakes overflowed and the sediment that flowed into the lakes from
the surrounding  region contained a high concentration of fine-grained
magnetic minerals. During periods of glacial retreat, the sediment was
trapped behind moraines (mounds of rock and debris left by glaciers),
resulting in a lower concentration of magnetic minerals flowing into Lakes
Titicaca and Junin.

"From the analysis, it is clear that the tropical Andes deglaciated several
thousand years earlier than higher latitude warming," the authors wrote. "In
contrast, maximum glaciation in  the U.S. Sierra Nevada persisted several
thousand years after deglaciation had commenced in the tropical Andes."  If
early warming occurred throughout the tropics, this climate change could
have been transmitted both atmospherically and by ocean circulation
processes to produce deglaciation of alpine and continental ice sheets in
the Northern Hemisphere, the scientists believe.

The study is part of a larger, ongoing research project on climate change in
the tropics that includes a $2 million  expedition to Lake Titicaca, funded
through NSF's Earth System History (ESH) program.


>From Cosmiverse, 29 May 2002

A Columbia University scientist studying an active seafloor volcano in the
Pacific Ocean has determined that there is a correlation between the
hundreds of micro earthquakes she recorded and the ocean tides.

Dr. Maya Tolstoy, Associate Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory at Columbia University, is publishing in the June issue of the
journal Geology, research showing that earthquakes coming from the Axial
Volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, located off the coast of Washington and
Oregon, are occurring during tidal lows when the weight of the water is at a
minimum. Tolstoy and her colleagues also found a tidal correlation with
signals for harmonic tremors, which are thought to result from super heated
water moving in the cracks.

The research suggests that the seafloor crust is essentially breathing with
the ocean tides, allowing more movement of water through the crust and the
release of seismic energy on a regular tidal schedule.

"Scientists have long postulated that earthquakes and tidal movements are
somehow connected, but on land the link has been quite difficult to
identify. It makes sense that if this correlation were to be seen strongly
anywhere, the ocean floor would be the most likely site, since it will be
strongly influenced by the tides. However, it's only within the last decade
that the technology has been available to make the long-term seismic
recordings of the seafloor necessary to find this correlation. Our first
study on the Axial Volcano began in 1994. Today, we have an interesting and
important view into how its deformation, and perhaps the deformation of
other underwater volcanoes, works," said Tolstoy.

The Axial Volcano was chosen as a research site because it was thought to be
volcanically active. In 1994, Tolstoy and her team deployed equipment on the
ocean floor to record both seismic activity and tides. Over a period of two
months, 402 micro earthquakes were recorded and they showed both a
fortnightly and a diurnal pattern. It was also recorded that there was a two
hour lag between the movement of the tides and the deformation of the
Earth's crust, which is a process called an Earth tide. This indicates that
the movement of water appears to be a more important force in day-to-day
earthquake triggering than the movement of the earth.

In 1998, a major eruption on Axial Volcano occurred. The activity observed
in 1994 occurred largely at the site of the 1998 eruption and may have
indicated precursory volcanic activity at a site on the brink of an
eruption. The existence and timing of the earthquakes is also important in
understanding the nutrient supply to the biological communities living in
these extreme environments devoid of sunlight.

At the time of the experiment, this research constituted the longest period
of continuous recording of seismic activity in a single location. Since
then, other longer-term deployments have been made, and similar correlations
have been observed in additional locations on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. It is
therefore probable that ocean tidal influences are occurring elsewhere on
the seafloor and on other mid-ocean ridge chains.

Source: Geological Society of America; NSF

Copyright 2002, Cosmiverse


>From Andrew Yee <>

European Space Agency
Press Release No. 38-2002
Paris, France             28 May 2002

ESA selects new Earth-Observation missions

For its second cycle of the Earth Explorer Opportunity Missions, ESA has
recently selected three proposals to enter feasibility study: ACE+, an
Atmosphere and Climate-Explorer; EGPM, the European contribution to Global
Precipitation Mission, and SWARM, a constellation of small satellites to
study the dynamics of the Earth's magnetic field and its interactions with
the Earth system.

Following a call for proposals in June 2001, ESA received 27 responses,
which encompassed all science and application oriented disciplines of Earth
Observation remote sensing. In January 2002, 25 were submitted for
evaluation to scientific Peer Teams for an in-depth scientific and
engineering review. The review was then analysed by the Earth Science
Advisory Committee (ESAC) which established a shortlist of six missions.
Finally, on May 15-16, ESA's Programme Board for Earth-Observation selected
three missions to undergo feasibility study.

The first Earth Explorer Opportunity Mission selection took place in 1999
and resulted in the selection of Cryosat and SMOS. Cryosat, to be launched
in 2004, will study ice sheets and sea ice, while SMOS, scheduled for launch
in 2006, will measure soil moisture and ocean salinity. The first Earth
Explorer Core Mission selection of 1999, saw the birth of the Earth Gravity
field and Ocean Circulation (GOCE) mission and the Atmospheric Dynamics
Mission (ADM-Aeolus) to be launched in 2005 and 2007 respectively.

Unlike the larger Earth Explorer Core Missions, which are ESA-led research
missions, Opportunity Missions are smaller, have a larger degree of
industrial implication and are not necessarily ESA-led. Their
cost-to-completion ranges in the order of 110M euro.

The three candidate opportunity missions recently selected will complement
areas of research currently under development in the Earth Explorer
programme. Once the feasibility studies are complete, two of the three
missions will be retained for implementation, with the launch of the first
envisaged for 2008.


The principal goal of ACE+ is to measure variations and changes in global
atmospheric temperature and water vapour distribution and so provide
valuable data for monitoring climate change. ACE+ will also be used to
improve weather forecasting. The mission will use four satellites in orbits
between 650 and 850 km altitude. Each will carry an L band receiver for
GPS/Galileo sounding and a multi- frequency X-K band transmitter or receiver
for satellite-to-satellite cross-link measurements.

The areal coverage of the mission must be such that the profiles are
globally and homogeneously distributed. The proposed constellation of 4
satellites will produce around 7000 humidity and temperature soundings per
month, which will be appropriate for use in climate monitoring.
Approximately 5000 refractivity soundings per day from GPS/Galileo radio
occultations will also be produced and will be assimilated into weather
forecasting systems.


This mission is a major European contribution to the Global Precipitation
Mission (GPM), which is an international initiative to ensure the delivery
of global precipitation fields 8 times per day. GPM is based on a satellite
constellation and is the successor of the NASA/NASDA Tropical Rainfall
Measuring Mission (TRMM).

Since availability of fresh water is so vital for life on Earth and human
development, the scientific reasons and the justification for a
precipitation-measuring mission are self-evident. Almost all aspects of
meteorology, climate studies, hydrology, economy and society are directly
influenced by the presence or absence of precipitation.

EGPM is a mission consisting of a single satellite in a sun-synchronous low
Earth orbit and carries a precipitation microwave radiometer, which will
provide global rainfall observations. It is an element of the joint
NASA-NASDA GPM mission proposal, which comprises a 'core' satellite,
carrying a precipitation radar and a precipitation radiometer, and a number
of smaller satellites with only a precipitation radiometer on each.

EGPM extends the proposed GPM mission by providing data that are needed at
high latitudes (such as Europe and Canada).


The objective of the SWARM mission is to provide the best survey ever of the
geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution, and gain new insights into
improving our knowledge of the Earth's interior and climate.

The SWARM concept consists of a constellation of four satellites in two
different polar orbits between 400 and 550 km altitude. Each satellite will
provide high-precision and high-resolution measurements of the
magnetic field. Together they will provide the necessary
observations for the global high-precision survey of the geomagnetic field
that is needed to model its various sources.

Magnetic fields play an important role in physical processes throughout the
Universe. The magnetic field exerts a very direct control of the
electrodynamic environment, on thermospheric dynamics, and possibly even on
the evolution of the lower atmosphere.

SWARM will provide important new knowledge of the expanding and deepening
South Atlantic Anomaly, with its serious implications for low-Earth orbit
satellite operations. Geographically, the recent decay of the Earth's
magnetic dipole is largely due to changes in the field in that region. The
geomagnetic field models resulting from this mission will have practical
applications in many different areas, such as space weather and radiation
hazards as well as furthering our understanding of atmospheric processes
related to climate and weather.

For further information, please contact:

Einar-Arne Herland
Head, Earth Sciences Division
+ 31 71 565 5673.

ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)


>From NEODyS <>

The online information service NEODyS has significantly expanded its
services, both in qualitative terms, by introducing new algorithms, and in
terms of performance and guaranteed availability.

1) We have now implemented and extensively tested a new close approach
monitoring system, called CLOMON2, to replace the previous CLOMON which has
been in operational service since late 1999. Although this new system is
still being developed, and still has some points needing improvement, it has
already a better performance than the old system, in that it finds
significantly more Virtual Impactors, and avoids several dubious cases. The
theory behind CLOMON2 has been developed by Milani, Valsecchi, Sansaturio
and Tommei, also in continous discussion with the JPL team running the other
impact monitoring system Sentry. Unfortunately the papers documenting this
theory are being written, although some idea could be obtained from the
review paper of the Asteroids III book, preprint available at

2) A service such as NEODyS (and even more CLOMON2) needs to have guaranteed
availability. Since network failures are one possible source of down time,
this problem cannot be solved by duplication in the same physical site, the
University of Pisa. Recently, thanks to the support of the Spanish Ministery
of Science and Technology and of the Observatory of Mallorca, the group led
by Genny Sansaturio at the University of Valladolid has been able to setup a
full duplicate NEODyS/CLOMON2 system at the address The two systems are maintained and kept
aligned by Genny, but occasionally one of the two could be out of service,
or unreachable, thus the users are advised to have the address above, as
well as , in their bookmarks.

3) Although the internet address is not changed, the computer in Pisa with
the name which hosts NEODyS has in fact been upgraded to
new hardware, 2.6 times faster (in number crunching). The computer in
Valladolid has exactly the same processor. Some additional performance
improvements have been obtained by software optimization, and by the use of
additional computational servers for some heavy tasks (especially the
computation of proper elements).  The users should note a signifcantly
faster response, even for complicated tasks like predicting observations far
in time.

Andrea Milani Comparetti

Maria Eugenia Sansaturio

Pisa, 24 May 2002


>From UniSci, 30 May 2002

Is life a highly improbable event, or is it just the inevitable consequence
of a rich chemical soup available everywhere in the cosmos?

Scientists have recently found new evidence that amino acids, the
"building-blocks" of life, can form not only in comets and asteroids, but
also in the interstellar space.

This result is consistent with (although of course does not prove) the
theory that the main ingredients for life came from outer space, and
therefore that chemical processes leading to life are likely to have
occurred elsewhere.

This focuses attention on an already "hot" research field, astrochemistry.
The European Space Agency (ESA)'s forthcoming missions Rosetta and Herschel
will provide a wealth of new information for this topic.

Amino acids are the "bricks" of the proteins, and proteins are a type of
compound present in all living organisms. Amino acids have been found in
meteorites that have landed on Earth, but never in space.

In meteorites, amino acids are generally thought to have been produced soon
after the formation of the Solar System by the action of aqueous fluids on
comets and asteroids -- objects whose fragments became today's meteorites.
However, new results published recently in Nature by two independent groups
show evidence that amino acids can also form in space.

Between stars there are huge clouds of gas and dust, the dust consisting of
tiny grains typically smaller than a millionth of a millimeter. The teams
reporting the new results, led by a United States group and a European
group, reproduced the physical steps leading to the formation of these
grains in the interstellar clouds in their laboratories, and found that
amino acids formed spontaneously in the resulting artificial grains.

The researchers started with water and a variety of simple molecules that
are known to exist in the "real" clouds, such as carbon monoxide, carbon
dioxide, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide. Although these initial ingredients
were not exactly the same in each experiment, both groups "cooked" them in a
similar way.

In specific chambers in the laboratory, they reproduced the common
conditions of temperature and pressure known to exist in interstellar
clouds, which is, of course, quite different from our "normal" conditions.
Interstellar clouds have a temperature of 260°C below zero, and the pressure
is also very low (almost zero). Great care was taken to exclude
contamination. As a result, grains analogous to those in the clouds were

The researchers illuminated the artificial grains with ultraviolet
radiation, a process that typically triggers chemical reactions between
molecules and that also happens naturally in the real clouds.

When they analyzed the chemical composition of the grains, they found that
amino acids had formed. The United States team detected glycine, alanine and
serine, while the European team listed up to 16 amino acids. (The
differences are not considered relevant since they can be attributed to
differences in the initial ingredients.)

According to the authors, what is relevant is the demonstration that amino
acids can indeed form in space, as a by-product of chemical processes that
take place naturally in the interstellar clouds of gas and dust.

Max P. Bernstein from the United States team points out that the gas and
dust in the interstellar clouds serve as "raw material" to build stars and
planetary systems such as our own. These clouds "are thousands of light
years across; they are vast, ubiquitous, chemical reactors. As the materials
from which all stellar systems are made pass through such clouds, amino
acids should have been incorporated into all other planetary systems, and
thus been available for the origin of life."

The view of life as a common event would therefore be favored by these
results. However, many doubts remain. For example, can these results really
be a clue to what happened about four billion years ago on the early Earth?
Can researchers be truly confident that the conditions they recreate are
those in the interstellar space?

Guillermo M. Muñoz Caro from the European team writes, "several parameters
still need to be better constrained (...) before a reliable estimation on
the extraterrestrial delivery of amino acids to the early Earth can be made.
To this end, in situ analysis of cometary material will be performed in the
near future by space probes such as Rosetta ..."

The intention for ESA's spacecraft Rosetta is to provide key data for this
question. Rosetta, to be launched next year, will be the first mission ever
to orbit and land on a comet, namely Comet 46P/Wirtanen. Starting in 2011,
Rosetta will have two years to examine in deep detail the chemical
composition of the comet.

As Rosetta's project scientist Gerhard Schwehm has stated, "Rosetta will
carry sophisticated payloads that will study the composition of the dust and
gas released from the comet's nucleus and help to answer the question: did
comets bring water and organics to Earth?"

If amino acids can also form in the space amid the stars, as the new
evidence suggests, research should also focus on the chemistry in the
interstellar space. This is exactly one of the main goals of the astronomers
preparing for ESA's space telescope Herschel.

Herschel, with its impressive mirror 3.5 meters in diameter (the largest of
any imaging space telescope) is due to be launched in 2007. One of its
strengths is that it will "see" a kind of radiation that has never been
detected before. This radiation is far-infrared and submillimeter light,
precisely what you need to detect if you are searching for complex chemical
compounds such as the organic molecules.



>From the BBC, 30 May 2002

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Having sequenced the human genome, Craig Venter now has his sights set on
another great scientific task: tackling global warming.

One of his post-genome aims is to scour the deep-ocean trenches to look for
bacteria that could convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into useful
products like starches and sugars.

"We have explored less than 1% of the microbial universe," he told BBC News

Because of this, he believes that it is highly likely that such useful
micro-organisms can be found and is sponsoring deep-sea expeditions to look
for them.

Dr Venter quit as boss of his genome cracking company, Celera Genomics, in

Celera is producing the privately funded version of the human genome - the
biochemical instructions that cells use to build and maintain our bodies.

Somewhere out there

Speaking from new offices in Rockville, Maryland, Dr Craig Venter told BBC
News Online of the ways he hopes biology can mitigate the influence humans
appear to be having on the global climate.

The idea really hit home with him, he says, when he learnt that most of the
atmosphere came about as a result of biological processes.

"But the idea became more tangible when he began sequencing the genetic code
of micro-organisms," he quickly adds.

Could microbes like this combat climate change?

"I seriously started thinking about it when we first sequenced the genetic
code of the first Archea, Methanococcus. This was the third genome ever to
be sequenced and the first representative of the Archea family of life."

Archea seem to be an ancient form of life - as different from bacteria as
bacteria are from us. They inhabit the deepest parts of the Earth and ocean.
They do not infect humans, making them safer to manipulate.

Remarkably, when Methanococcus was analysed, it was discovered that 60% of
its genes were unknown to science.

"Methanococcus takes carbon dioxide from the environment and turns it into
proteins, sugars and methane," Dr Venter said.

Venter hopes that somewhere out there could be another microbe similar to
Metahnococcus that has just the right properties to remove carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere, thereby combating human-induced climate change.

The microbial universe

"We have explored less than 1% of the microbial universe. It is more than
likely that there are organisms that can do this. So we should be out
looking for them."

One expedition to look for these extremophiles, as they are termed, has just
left the Galapagos Islands. It will probe deep-sea vents in the Pacific that
are known to be home to hardy and unusual organisms.

"We hope to bring back some samples and hopefully culture new organisms,"
said Dr Venter.

"We are more than likely to find what we are looking for. This is basic
research trying to solve a growing problem for society," he added.

The famous code cracker is tapping into a $100m research endowment he is
creating from his stock holdings to fund his new projects.

Copyright 2002, BBC


>From Bob Kobres <>

Below are some links to pages within online books encoded with the layered
wavelet compression format, DjVu. You will need a free plugin to view these
titles and I recommend that you download the install file and run it
locally.  The books are searchable but the optical character recognition
(OCR) is not perfect so every instance of --dragon-- might not be found.  It
often helps to try variations and use a 'wildcard' option such as -- drag*
near red* -- from the
or specific to a title search tool:

The plugin can be linked to from here:

Also I've placed Bill Napier's 1998 Frontiers article on Comets and sky
dragons here:

Interesting pages:
note the drawing for a comet:

115. Lucifer. The planet Venus, the second in the solar system, is called
Lucifer when it precedes the sun in the morning, and Hesperus when it
follows the sun in the evening.

I further call the reader's very particular attention to the terra-cotta
ball, No. 1997, * on which we see in the middle an owl's face in monogram;
to its right a wheel, which may represent the sun; to its left, three
concentric circles, which may represent the moon, and below a small
circle, perhaps intended to represent the morning star. All these
representations can be best distinguished in the developed pattern (No.
1998). On the back the female hair is indicated by deep scratchings. As the
hair cannot be distinguished in the engraving, I strongly advise the
reader to see the ball itself in my collection in the South Kensington
Museum. This owl's face, between the sun and moon and morning star, proves
better, I think, than all the vases and idols, that the owl's head is the
symbol of the Ilian Athene.


Bob Kobres
Main Library
University of Georgia
Athens, GA  30602


>From Josep Maria Trigo i Rodríguez <>

Dear colleagues,

Only a short note to inform that the department of Experimental Sciences of
University Jaume I has decided promote a manifest to protect the night sky
in Castelló (Spain). Our initiative is only one in the important movement
born around spanish universities and amateur astronomical associations of
Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia f.e.

The full version of the document is today in the following address (at the
moment only in spanish):

In any case we can provide a english version for all interested  people
soon. We would be happy to promote similar social movements to save energy
and protect the dark sky around the world.
Perhaps our children also reach the stars...
Josep M. Trigo-Rodriguez
Prof. Assoc. Dept. Experimental Sciences
Campus del Riu Sec (E.S.T.C.E)
University Jaume I
12071 Castellon (SPAIN)
Phones: (964) 728057- 282968
FAX: (964)285161


>From The Japan TImes, 29 May 2002

The hole in the ozone layer will be mostly gone by around 2040 due to
restrictions placed on chlorofluorocarbons, a Japanese research team said

In the 1980s, the ozone layer, which protects animals and plants from
dangerous ultraviolet rays, started to deplete above the South Pole.

CFCs are efficient at eating away the ozone layer.

"What influences the South Pole is not global warming, but chlorine in the
atmosphere that mostly originates from CFCs," said Tatsuya Nagashima of the
National Institute for Environmental Studies.

The study was carried out by Nagashima and Masaaki Takahashi, a professor at
the Center for Climate System Research at the University of Tokyo. It will
soon be published in the academic journal American Geophysical Union.

The team's findings are different from those of the U.S. National
Aeronautics and Space Administration as well as other institutions, which
have predicted the hole will continue to grow until after 2050.

The team used a supercomputer to predict changes in the ozone layer above
the South Pole and the North Pole while the restrictions on CFCs are in

Based on detailed calculations on atmospheric movement and chemical
reactions that occur in the atmosphere, they concluded that the ozone layer
will mostly recover.

According to their findings, the amount of ozone over the South Pole will
not change over the next 15 years. However, it will suddenly rise in the
late 2030s before recovering around 2040.

Over the North Pole, where destruction of the ozone layer is not as serious,
the amount of ozone will decrease until 2010, after which it will mostly
remain unchanged, according to the researchers.

The Japan Times: May 29, 2002
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