PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 124/2002 - 29 October 2002
-------------------------------

"Scientists from Irkutsk (Siberia) have located the site in the
Irkutsk Region's north where a meteorite fell on September 25 at night.
According to Sergey Yazev, director of the Irkutsk State University's
observatory, who returned last Sunday from an expedition, trees
broken or chopped by the meteorite's fragments were found 37 km from the
Mama settlement. No fragments of the sky body which exploded in the
atmosphere have been found, as the area in the forest is covered
with deep snow now."
--Novosti News Agency, 28 October 2002


(1) SCIENTISTS LOCATE SIBERIAN IMPACT SITE: TREES BROKEN AND CHOPPED
    Novosti News Agency, 28 October 2002

(2) COMET CHASER SETS SIGHTS ON ASTEROID ANNEFRANK
    UPI, 28 October 2002

(3) FLYBY OF ANNEFRANK ASTEROID TO HELP STARDUST PREPARE FOR PRIMARY MISSION
    University of Washington, 28 October 2002

(4) STUDYING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COMETARY AND ASTEROIDAL IMPACT CRATERS
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(5) BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN IMPACT CRATERS
    Charles Cockell <csco@bas.ac.uk>

(6) TOWARDS OTHER EARTHS: DARWIN/TPF CONFERENCE 2003
    Alan Penny <alan.penny@rl.ac.uk>

(7) LIFE AMONG THE STARS
    Sky and Space, Oct/Nov 2002 


========
(1) SCIENTISTS LOCATE SIBERIAN IMPACT SITE: TREES BROKEN AND CHOPPED

>From Novosti News Agency, 28 October 2002
http://en.rian.ru/rian/index.cfm?prd_id=160&msg_id=2818387&startrow=1&date=2002-10-28&do_alert=0

Scientists from Irkutsk (Siberia) have located the site in the Irkutsk
Region's north where a meteorite fell on September 25 at night.

According to Sergey Yazev, director of the Irkutsk State University's
observatory, who returned last Sunday from an expedition, trees broken or
chopped by the meteorite's fragments were found 37 km from the Mama
settlement. No fragments of the sky body which exploded in the atmosphere
have been found, as the area in the forest is covered with deep snow now.

In spring, scientists from Irkutsk and their colleagues of the Russian
Academy of Sciences Meteorite Committee are going to organise a more
large-scale expedition. According to Yazev, the meteorite's stone must
contain a substance having more than four billion years of age, which has a
great value for studying the history of the solar system's formation.

The meteorite's location was found due to the research of Irkutsk
seismologists and an American satellite which fixed the flash of the sky
body exploding in the air. Originally the meteorite was thought to have
fallen in the Bodaibo district.

===========
(2) COMET CHASER SETS SIGHTS ON ASTEROID ANNEFRANK

>From UPI, 28 October 2002
http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20021025-115950-4574r

PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A NASA probe launched in 1999 to fetch
samples from a comet will be put through a full dress rehearsal this week in
preparation for the one-shot flyby of Comet Wild-2 in January 2004, mission
officials told United Press International.

The spacecraft, called Stardust, is being prepared for a flyby of asteroid
Annefrank, a 2.5-mile wide rock named for the famed Holocaust victim. No
science is expected from the pass -- at best, the probe might be able to
capture low-resolution, black-and-white pictures of the asteroid as it whips
by it at 4 miles per second. Stardust will be nearly 2,000 miles away from
the asteroid at its closest approach.

Stardust will keep its distance to assure it is not damaged by an
undiscovered Annefrank companion asteroid or any nearby dust or debris. The
point of the exercise is to uncover any problems with Stardust's target
acquisition, autonomous navigation and science instrument operations before
the critical comet flyby.

"This is a great opportunity for us," Stardust principal investigator Donald
Brownlee said in an interview. "It's like dress rehearsal for a wedding. You
expect everything to go as planned, but just in case you'd like to know
ahead of time," said Brownlee, an astronomy professor at the University of
Washington in Seattle.

Stardust is an ambitious but low-cost mission to capture the first samples
from a comet, as well as grains of interstellar dust, and return them to
Earth. If successful, the probe will pass by the planet and parachute its
collection back to the surface in January 2006.

The Stardust team had to scrimp and save to come up with the hundreds of
thousands of dollars needed to plan, test and support the asteroid Annefrank
flyby. With mission costs capped at $200 million, project managers limited
communication sessions to just a few hours per week to cut the number of
people and costs needed to support the mission during its cruise phases.

"We probably track our spacecraft less than anyone," project manager Thomas
Duxbury told UPI. "In the last year, we've talked to it maybe two-to-four
hours per week. If you do that you don't need a lot of flight team on duty.
We worked very hard to juggle our resources to fit the test into our budget.
We then had to convince our management that even though we are doing this on
a shoestring budget, we weren't putting the spacecraft at risk."

The scrutiny intensified after the loss earlier this year of Stardust's
sister comet probe, Contour, now thought to have been destroyed after a
failed engine burn.

Still, Duxbury, who is with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
said he would have considered it a personal failing of his management if
Stardust had missed the opportunity to test its systems on a celestial
practice target. The probe's launch was timed so that if money were
available, the asteroid encounter could serve as an inflight engineering
test.

"It was my absolute goal to not let this opportunity go by without as
thorough a testing as possible," said Duxbury. "What we've found on just
about every spacecraft we've ever flown is that the first time you try
anything major, you run into a problem. We don't want to try its exotic
imaging system and letting the spacecraft control itself when we're inside
the coma of a comet because if it does even the slightest thing wrong, the
spacecraft could be destroyed."

During the test, Stardust will run through the exact sequence planned for
the comet encounter, with science instruments all running and relaying data
at high speeds for the first time since before the satellite's launch.

"Ideally, everything will work, but my guess is we'll have some lessons
learned and then we'll have over a year to fix it before we get to Comet
Wild-2," said Duxbury.

Stardust will begin receiving its operating instructions Monday. The probe
will be instructed to take pictures of the asteroid as it approaches on
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The images will not make front page news,
however, Duxbury warned. At best, they will be only a pixel, or single
digital image unit, in size. Even at its closest approach, the asteroid
images will be just 10 to 20 pixels, he said.

"This is where I think we're going to disappoint a lot of people," said
Duxbury. "We plan to take 60 or more images during the flyby, but we'll be
very far out. It will look like nothing more than a sliver of new moon. But
we'll be jumping up and down and patting each other on the back and doing
high-fives if we get those images because it would mean that all of our hard
work and testing were successful. Even a crummy image, and we'll be
thrilled."

(Reported by Irene Brown, UPI Science News, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.)

Copyright 2002 United Press International
 
===========
(3) FLYBY OF ANNEFRANK ASTEROID TO HELP STARDUST PREPARE FOR PRIMARY MISSION

>From University of Washington, 28 October 2002
http://www.washington.edu/newsroom/news/2002archive/10-02archive/k102802.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FROM: Vince Stricherz
206-543-2580
vinces@u.washington.edu
DATE: Oct. 28, 2002

Flyby of Annefrank asteroid to help Stardust prepare for primary mission
It will be a moment tinged with history when the Stardust spacecraft makes
an encounter with Asteroid 5535 Annefrank this weekend. The flyby will test
many of the systems and procedures to be used when Stardust makes its
encounter with comet Wild 2 in little more than a year.

"It turns out to be a tremendous plus because you end up having a full dress
rehearsal more than a year ahead of the encounter," said Donald Brownlee, a
University of Washington astronomy professor who is the mission's chief
scientist. "It's a little like a dress rehearsal for a wedding - you expect
things to be fine, but you practice just to make sure. If the unexpected
does happen at the rehearsal, it's not a problem at the real ceremony."

Stardust, launched in February 1999, is designed to capture particles from
Wild 2 and return them to Earth for analysis. The spacecraft already has
collected grains of interstellar dust. It is the first U.S. sample-return
mission since the last moon landing in 1972.

Brownlee described Annefrank as typical for asteroids found in the inner
asteroid belt, just beyond the orbit of Mars. Stardust's main camera will
capture images, but the asteroid's relatively small size (2 miles across)
and the spacecraft's distance (about 1,900 miles) mean the images won't be
very detailed, he said. The closest approach to the asteroid will be at 8:50
p.m. PST (11:50 p.m. EST) on Friday.

"We're just fortunate to have a target there that we can approach at this
time," he said.

Asteroid 5535 was discovered by prolific German asteroid hunter Karl
Reinmuth in March 1942 but was not named Annefrank until long after World
War II.

The discovery came barely three months before Frank, a Jewish teenager,
joined her parents, her sister and four others hiding from the Nazis in
Amsterdam, Holland. For two years the group remained in their hideaway,
subsisting with help from a small circle of outsiders. Anne recorded their
life and her thoughts in a diary that was to become one of the world's most
famous books. The group was discovered in 1944 and sent to Nazi
concentration camps. All except Anne's father perished. Otto Frank survived
the war and returned to Amsterdam, where he published his daughter's diary.

Now Annefrank happens to be the asteroid that lies on the right course to
help Stardust and its controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., prepare for the tasks they face come Jan. 2, 2004.

On that day, Stardust will fly within 75 miles of Wild 2's main body, close
enough to trap small particles from the coma, the gas-and-dust envelope
surrounding the comet's nucleus. Stardust will be traveling at about 13,400
miles per hour and will capture comet particles traveling at the speed of a
bullet fired from a rifle. The main camera, built for NASA's Voyager
program, will transmit the closest-ever comet pictures back to Earth.

There are differences, however, between how the spacecraft will function
during the Annefrank flyby and the comet encounter. For one thing, if it
runs into serious problems during the asteroid encounter it will be able to
go into "safe mode," where the spacecraft turns its solar power collectors
toward the sun and essentially protects itself. But when it approaches Wild
2 (pronounced Vilt two), Stardust will be working without a net - the "safe
mode" function will be turned off.

Brownlee said the Annefrank flyby is "a very good test," the kind that
ideally every mission should have. Such tests are particularly important, he
said, for low-cost missions such as those in the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration's Discovery program, of which Stardust is a part.

"When we have the comet encounter, we want as few first-time events as
possible," Brownlee said. "This fortunate opportunity at the asteroid
increases our probability of success next year at the comet."

Besides the UW and JPL, the Stardust collaboration includes Lockheed Martin
Astronautics.

###

For more information, contact Brownlee at
brownlee@bluemoon.astro.washington.edu or (206) 543-8575.

=============
(4) STUDYING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COMETARY AND ASTEROIDAL IMPACT CRATERS

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

News Bureau
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, Illinois

Contact:
Jim Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
(217) 244-1073; kloeppel@uiuc.edu

10/25/02

Scientists studying two big craters on earth find two causes

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Two of the three largest impact craters on Earth have
nearly the same size and structure, researchers say, but one was caused by a
comet while the other was caused by an asteroid. These surprising results
could have implications for where scientists might look for evidence of
primitive life on Mars.

Susan Kieffer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kevin Pope
of Geo Eco Arc Research and Doreen Ames of Natural Resources Canada analyzed
the structure and stratigraphy of the 65 million-year-old Chicxulub crater
in Mexico and the 1.8 billion-year-old Sudbury crater in Canada.

Chicxulub is well preserved, but buried, and can be studied only by
geophysical means, remote sensing and at a few distant sites on land where
some ejecta is preserved. In contrast, Sudbury has experienced up to 4-6
kilometers of erosion, and is well exposed and highly studied by mining
exploration companies because of its rich mineral resources.

By working back and forth with data from the two craters, the researchers
were able to re-create the structures and then estimate the amount of melt
in each structure. The amount of melt is critical for determining if
long-lived hot-water circulation systems that might host life forms
could have been formed after the impacts.

In their field studies, the researchers found that both craters were about
200 kilometers in diameter. In addition, they identified five ring-shaped
structures with similar character and dimensions. A sixth ring -- the peak
ring in the central basin -- was present at Chicxulub, but had been eroded
away at Sudbury.

"While the size and structure of the two craters were similar, they differed
greatly in the amount of impact melt that was produced," said Kieffer, who
presented the team's findings at the annual meeting of the Geological
Society of America, held Oct. 27-30 in Denver.

"Through field studies, we determined that Chicxulub has about 18,000 cubic
kilometers of impact melt, approximately four times the volume of water in
Lake Michigan," Pope said. "Sudbury has about 31,000 cubic kilometers of
impact melt, approximately six times the volume of lakes Huron and Ontario
combined, and nearly 70 percent more than the melt at Chicxulub. These differences
in volume have significant implications about the amount of heat available to drive
hot-water circulation systems."

The researchers then used an analytical cratering model to examine possible
causes for the huge difference in melt. According to the simulation results,
the difference in melt volume could be readily explained if Chicxulub -- the
impact crater that doomed the dinosaurs -- was formed by an asteroid and
Sudbury was formed by a comet.

"Our calculation of 18,000 cubic kilometers of impact melt at Chicxulub
agreed well with model estimates for an asteroid striking at a 45 degree
angle," said Kieffer, the Walgreen Professor of Geology at Illinois. "None
of the comet impact examples came close to agreeing."

In contrast, the Sudbury impact melt volume of 31,000 cubic kilometers fell
between model estimates for a comet striking at an angle of 30-45 degrees,
Kieffer said. "Similarly, none of the asteroid impact examples came close to
agreeing with the Sudbury melt volume."

Another clue to the craters' origins lies in the impact melts themselves.
The majority of the excess melt at Sudbury is in the form of a melt-rich
breccia -- called suevite -- inside the crater. This material tends to form
in impacts where the crustal target rock contains a lot of water. Sudbury has
much more suevite in the preserved crater than Chicxulub.

"The mystery was that there probably wasn't a lot of water in the original
rocks at Sudbury to account for the excess suevite," Kieffer said. "But in a
comet impact of this size, somewhere around 1,400-2,000 cubic kilometers of
water from the comet gets mixed into the impact melt, and
that could play a major role in disrupting the melt and creating the excess
suevite."

There is other independent evidence for an asteroid impact at Chicxulub, the
team said, including the purported find of an asteroid fragment in an
oceanic drill core, the amount of iridium spread around the world at the
time of impact, and a telltale chromium 53 isotopic signature.

By studying the origin and structure of large impact craters on Earth,
scientists might narrow the search for life on Mars. At Sudbury, for
example, "there is evidence of a huge hydrothermal system that was driven by
the heat of the impact melt," Ames said. "As a result, there was
widespread hot spring activity on the crater floor possibly capable of
supporting life."

The researchers are interested in "extrapolating these conclusions about
comet and asteroid impacts to Martian conditions and asking where we might
go to look for similar hydrothermal systems that could have hosted primitive
life forms on Mars," Kieffer said. "Our next step is to model these hot-water
circulation systems that were set up by the impact melts with fluid flow controlled
by structures (fractures) inside the crater, and then extrapolate the results to Martian
conditions."

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Natural History
Museum of Los Angeles County funded this work.

[NOTE: A geological map and RADARSAT-1 image of the Sudbury impact crater is
available at
http://www.ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca/ccrs/rd/apps/geo/sudbury/sudbury_e.html ]

=============
(5) BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN IMPACT CRATERS

>From Charles Cockell <csco@bas.ac.uk>

BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN IMPACT CRATERS
March 29-April 1, 2003, Cambridge, UK

The second announcement and registration materials are now available on the
ESF website : http://pssri.open.ac.uk/ESF/Main.htm

The workshop, to be held in Cambridge, UK from March 29 to April 1 next year
will examine the ecological characteristics of impact craters and the
biological processes that occur within them.  The conference should be of
interest to astrobiologists, impact scientists, geologists and others. As
well as examining patterns of recovery in impact structures, the workshop
will also explore themes such as the formation of hydrothermal vents within
impact structures and the biological consequences.
__________________________
Dr. Charles Cockell,
British Antarctic Survey,
High Cross,
Madingley Road,
Cambridge.
CB3 0ET. UK

Tel : + 44 1223 221560
e-mail : csco@bas.ac.uk

==============
(6) TOWARDS OTHER EARTHS: DARWIN/TPF CONFERENCE 2003

>From Alan Penny <alan.penny@rl.ac.uk>

Dear Benny,

[This is a circular letter to people who signed a round-robin last year to
ESA supporting Exoplanets and Astrobiology.]

Toward Other Earths

Darwin / TPF and the search for extra-solar terrestrial planets

Heidelberg, Germany          22-25 April 2003
http://www.mpia-hd.mpg.de/DARWIN/

The conference "Toward Other Earths" is the first in a series of
multi-disciplinary international meetings designed to provide a forum for
scientists and engineers active in many different areas as well as managers,
representatives of the space agencies and industry working on the Darwin/TPF
mission. The aim of the conference is to exchange information, formulate new
ideas and propose new approaches towards the implementation of a
multi-agency mission with the goal of detecting Earth-like planets orbiting
stars other than our Sun. The primary goal of the Darwin mission (and its
NASA counterpart TPF) is to detect and characterize extrasolar Earth-like
planets orbiting other stars, and to search for signs of life on these
planets. This conference will focus almost exclusively on this goal.

A secondary goal of Darwin is to provide imaging of astrophysical objects in
the mid-infrared at unprecedented angular scales.

Regards, Alan Penny

===========
(7) LIFE AMONG THE STARS

>From Sky and Space, Oct/Nov 2002 
www.skyandspace.com.au

More than two hundred scientists converged on Hamilton Island,
Queensland, recently for a conference that was out of this world.

Michael Paine reports...

Every few years the International Astronomy Union holds a symposium on
astrobiology - the study of life in outer space. This year the conference,
called Bioastronomy 2002: Life Among the Stars, was held on Hamilton Island,
adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Not surprisingly many scientists made an
extra effort to attend a conference at such a glorious location. There were
70 speakers from 16 countries and well over two hundred participants.

The wide range of topics covered included:
space chemistry,
the formation of planets,
planetary atmospheres and surfaces,
the search for planets around other stars,
origins of life on Earth,
the search for primitive life elsewhere in the solar system,
obstacles to the evolution of intelligent life; and
the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

To non-scientists (like myself) some of the titles appeared a little
daunting but it was pleasing to see that most speakers addressed the wider
audience. Australian astronomer Chris Tinney set the standard by asking
participants to hold up a yellow card if he lapsed into gobbledegook. Those
who dared to do this were rewarded with a chocolate frog. Later in the
conference it was intriguing to see a few yellow cards raised but the
speakers were oblivious to their purpose.

Here is a taster for the smorgasbord of topics covered by the
conference.

Harrison (Jack) Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and the only scientist to walk
on the Moon, opened the conference with a talk called "Life among the
craters". He showed how the rocks returned from the Apollo 17 landing site
confirmed cataclysmic impacts on Earth nearly four billions years ago. Later
he expressed scepticism about the giant impact hypothesis for formation of
the Moon - that is, that a Mars-size planet collided with the Earth and the
debris from the impact formed our Moon. Also comparing the surface of the
Moon with Mars and Earth, he suggested there was strong evidence for a major
ocean on Mars about three billion years ago.

Barry Blumberg from the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) described how
educational outreach is a major aim of NAI. Astrobiology covers many
disciplines of science and humanities and there are great opportunities for
incorporating it into educational programs. The Australian Centre for
Astrobiology at Macquarie University is an affiliate of NAI. Blumberg had a
refreshing approach to the funding of scientific research. He said that NAI
funding allows for changes in direction of projects because 'scientists
never do what they said they were going to do' when applying for funds.

Planets

Australian Chris Tinney gave a lively introduction to the search for
extra-solar planets. He described the very poor odds of detecting an
Earth-like planet with current techniques but was optimistic that the
necessary technology would soon be developed - particularly with proposed
space-based missions. He described the Kepler space mission that will look
for Earth-like planets at 'crazy precisions'. The proposed European Space
Agency Darwin mission will use infrared interferometry but has some technical
challenges. Similarly the NASA Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission is seen
as ambitious. He cautions that TPF will target 150 nearby stars but if only 1 in 100
stars has an Earth-like planet then it is possible there is nothing for TPF to find.

One technique that holds promise is 'gravitational microlensing', where a
star with a planet passes in front of another star and the bending of light
rays by gravity causes a brief  brightening of the background star. This is
a very infrequent event and it requires exceptional luck. Several groups are
carrying out highly automated search for these events by piggy-backing on
other (Earth-based) telescope projects. In some ways, the automated
techniques are similar to those being used to search for Near Earth
Asteroids. Later Penny Sackett from Mt Stromolo Observatory described
Australian involvement in microlensing observations.

SETI

Jill Tarter from the SETI Institute pointed out that SETI is looking for
extraterrestrial technology - particularly information technology. There may
be signals that are intended to be intercepted by emerging civilisations or
unintended noise like the radio waves that are now radiating in a sphere
away from the Earth - ''I Love Lucy' is broadcasting our intelligence!'
SETI, she says, is founded on the scientific principle of repeatability.
Other researchers must be able to independently confirm any discoveries.

She also suggested that if ET wants to be discovered then it would make
sense to send a signal that was similar to a natural process and so it would
be found during the normal course of science. This view may have been partly
swayed by bitter experience in the USA, where in the early 1990s Congress
short-sightedly banned NASA from spending any funds on SETI. SETI is now
privately funded in the US and piggybacks on other radio-telescope projects.
The enormous success of the SETI@home computing project has proved that
Congress was dead wrong about public support for SETI.

Tarter said that the prospects for 'optical SETI' had recently been boosted
by developments with Stars Wars Technology (US missile defence). Very short
intense bursts of light could now be emitted and methods of detecting these
bursts (possibly from ET) are being developed. In the long term she sees
omni-directional detectors as the way to go - a radio 'fly's eye'. This
would create a massive computational task but may be possible in about 15
years. She mentioned Project Argus, a proposal to build 5000 backyard
receivers around the world to create a 'poor man's fly's eye'. Finally, the
Allen Telescope Array is under construction in northern California. 'This
will speed up the search by a factor of 100' she said.

Mars and Europa

Malcolm Walter, the head of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, outlined
the methods of searching for evidence of microbes on Mars, based on his
research in Central Australia. He has studied ancient hydrothermal systems
that are similar to Yellowstone National Park in the USA. He explained that,
on Earth, these systems are 'full of life' and that the chemicals in the
water make fossilisation extremely efficient. In studying these ancient
Earth systems he is developing techniques that could be used to examine
similar systems on Mars. He said he would like to go the Daar Vallis area of
Mars because there are indications of hydrothermal deposits.

Chris Chyba from the SETI Institute in California described the search for
life in the Solar System. He was excited about the recent evidence of 'a
great deal of water on Mars' - frozen just under the harsh surface - and the
hundreds of ancient features that appear to show erosion by flowing water.
He is looking forward to the landing of the Beagle 2 spacecraft on Mars
because that could resolve many of the tantalising unanswered questions
resulting from the Viking Landers in the mid 1970s. He also pointed out that
scientists were still debating a definition of life.

Chyba then turned to Europa. By precisely tracking spacecraft such as
Galileo and Voyager, scientists have determined that the outer 100km of the
surface of Europa has the density of water and the simplest explanation is
that it is salty water. He explained that tidal forces from the giant planet
Jupiter should be sufficient to maintain liquid water below Europa's ice
crust, which is thought to be several kilometres thick. Based on the count
of impact craters the average age of this crust is no more than 50 million
years... so there must be some unknown processes that are refreshing the
surface. There are signs of recent solidification of water and these might
be the best places to look for life. He said we can learn about the buried
ocean and possibility of life by studying such sites rather than 'boring through the
ice' (a current NASA proposal).

If there is (or was) life on Europa there are two possible origins. Firstly
it may have arisen independently, say in deep ocean vents. Alternatively it
may have been transferred from Earth, or perhaps Mars, via meteoroids
blasted off the planet by large asteroid impacts (known as 'panspermia' or,
more precisely 'transpermia'). Chyba explained that the icy crust and lack
of atmosphere hindered both mechanisms on Europa - an asteroid or comet
striking the solid ice surface at 20km/s or more would be instantly
vaporised. However, some organic material such as
non-biological amino acids could be expected to reach the surface intact and
find its way to the oceans. Over billions of years this may have provided
sufficient raw material to support the development of life.

During question time it was suggested that Jupiter might have been hotter
billions of years ago (it still radiates more energy than it receives from
the Sun). Chyba said he was not aware of any studies of this mechanism.
Later, over coffee, I discussed this possibility with him. He agreed that a
hotter Jupiter may have resulted in liquid water on the surface of Europa.
This would have generated an atmosphere which, in turn, would have slowed
down fragments of asteroids and comets sufficiently to greatly increase the
chances of intact material reaching the ocean. There is therefore the
exciting possibility that three billion years ago the Earth, Mars and Europa
exchanged life-bearing rocks.

Everett Gibson from NASA was one of the original authors to the
controversial paper that claimed evidence of life in Martian meteorite
ALH84001. Gibson went over the claims and counter-claims, focusing on the
tiny magnetite crystals found deep inside the meteorite. He said that within
the scientific community, six properties of magnetite had been identified in
order to establish that a crystal of magnetite was 'biogenic' (i.e. formed
by a living organism). He claimed that some of the crystals in ALH84001 met
all six properties. In other words, the debate about ALH84001 is far from over.

Betty Pierazzo from Arizona University has been developing computer models
to simulate the climatic effects of asteroid and comet impacts. She
described her successful modelling of the Chicxulub impact in Mexico 65
million years ago. This is a well studied event associated with the
extinction of the dinosaurs.

Pierazzo then discussed mechanisms for delivery of organic material to the
surface of planets and moons. She said that the smaller slower impacts
delivered the most intact organic material and this 'was not good news for
Europa' with its current surface of ice. Later I discussed
the environmental effects of impacts with her, since I had prepared a poster
paper [co-authored with Benny Peiser] on this topic
[ http://www4.tpg.com.au/users/tps-seti/bioastr2002.pdf ] and had referred to
her work. To my surprise she said that her work was partially hampered by a
lack of access to the most advanced computing available in the USA...
apparently because she was not born in the USA.

Cosmologist Paul Davies from Macquarie University discussed the possible
role of quantum mechanics in the origin of life. He explained that there was
nothing in classical physics that might 'fast track' the formation of life.
Making the building blocks of life, like amino acids, was straightforward
and widespread in nature. He pointed out, however, that this was a long way
from a self-replicating molecules.

Davies said that when the theory of quantum mechanics was first developed it
was thought that it would eventually explain the origin of life. Fifty years
on and quantum mechanics 'has no direct relevance' to the origin of life.
But there are signs that information theory and quantum computing may
provide some answers. Quantum computing
[ http://www4.tpgi.com.au/users/aoaug/qtm_comp.html ] harnesses the quirks of
quantum mechanics to provide an exponential improvement in computing power.
He said there was circumstantial evidence that nature uses quantum
computations. There is therefore the possibility that the extraordinary
power of quantum computing resulted in the first self-replicating molecule.

He cautioned, however, that the RNA/DNA on which life is based is a long way
from such a molecule. There is also the major problem of "decoherance",
where the atomic environment interferes with the quantum processes and
destroys the computation. Davies suggested that the
developing fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology might provide some
answers.

There were many other fascinating talks during the week. It was remarkable
to hear from top scientists who tailored their talks to a general science
audience and were evidently delighted to share their exciting discoveries.

c2002 Sky and Space

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*

CCNet TERRA 8/2002 - 29 October 2002
------------------------------------

"Contrary to an opinion held by some researchers, a new analysis of
more than 20 years of historical data has found no evidence that the
increasing number of large icebergs off Antarctica's coasts is a
result of global warming trends. "The dramatic increase in the number of
large icebergs as recorded by the National Ice Center database does not
represent a climatic change. Our reanalysis suggests that the number
of icebergs remained roughly constant from 1978 to the late 1990s."
--David Long, Brigham Young University, 24 October 2002


"By the year 2080, Manhattan and Shanghai could be underwater,
droughts and floods could become more extreme and hundreds of millions
of people will be at risk from disease, starvation and water
shortages. That is the picture that a Greenpeace senior official
painted of the future if the world failed to take urgent steps to curb
greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. "We're talking of about
the submergence of islands, submergence of Shanghai, the submergence of
Bombay, the submergence of New York City," Greenpeace climate policy
director Steve Sawyer told Reuters late last week."
--Planet Ark, 28 October 2002


(1) BETTER DETECTION, NOT GLOBAL WARMING, BEHIND INCREASE IN LARGE ICEBERGS
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(2) GREENLAND MELTING?
    John-Daly.com, 27 October 2002

(3) TRENDS IN SOUTHERN OCEAN SEA-ICE SEASON
    CO2 Science Magazine, 23 October 2002

(4) GROWING SEASON: IS IT INCREASING AS A RESULT OF GLOBAL WARMING?
    CO2 Science Magazine, 23 October 2002

(5) THE CO2 PUZZLE: WHAT'S MAN-MADE AND WHAT'S NOT?
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(6) THE PRICE OF UK CLIMATE CHANGE LEVY: WINTER DEATHS AMONG THE ELDERLY RISE
    BBC News Online, 24 October 2002

(7) DISASTER AREA: BLAMING CO2 FOR NATURAL CATASTROPHES
    Tech Central Station, 18 October 2002

(8) AND FINALLY: STOP GLOBAL WARMING OR NEW YORK SUBMERGES, PROPHETS OF DOOM PREDICT
    Planet Ark, 28 October 2002

===============
(1) BETTER DETECTION, NOT GLOBAL WARMING, BEHIND INCREASE IN LARGE ICEBERGS

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

Brigham Young University

Contact:
Michael Smart, (801) 422-7320, michael_smart@byu.edu

OCT 24, 2002

Better detection, not global warming, behind increase in large Antarctic
icebergs, new BYU study shows

PROVO, Utah -- Contrary to an opinion held by some researchers, a new
analysis of more than 20 years of historical data has found no evidence that
the increasing number of large icebergs off Antarctica's coasts is a result
of global warming trends.

"The dramatic increase in the number of large icebergs as recorded by the
National Ice Center database does not represent a climatic change," said
Brigham Young University electrical engineering professor David Long, who,
with Cheryl Bertoia of the U. S. National Ice Center, reports these findings
in the new issue of EOS Transactions, a publication of the American
Geophysics Union. "Our reanalysis suggests that the number of icebergs
remained roughly constant from 1978 to the late 1990s."

Using BYU's supercomputers, Long enhanced images of the waters around
Antarctica transmitted by satellite. Comparing this data to records from the
federal government's National Ice Center, which tracks icebergs larger than
ten miles on one side, he determined that previous tracking measures were
inadequate, resulting in a gross undercounting. An additional recent spike
in large icebergs can be explained by periodic growth and retraction of the
large glaciers that yield icebergs every 40 to 50 years, he said, noting
previous research done by other scientists.

"Dr. Long's analysis shows that the increase is only an 'apparent increase,'
and that it is premature to think of any connection between this kind of
iceberg (growth) and global warming," said Douglas MacAyeal, a University of
Chicago glaciologist who tracks icebergs. "His research, particularly that
with his amazing ability to detect and track icebergs, is really the best
method" for determining the actual rate of the creation of icebergs.

Long is careful to distinguish between the birth of large icebergs and the
widely publicized collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf last year, which
yielded many smaller icebergs. Other scientists have clearly shown, Long
said, that event was the result of localized warming.

Referring to his current study, he said, "This data set is not evidence of
global warming. Nor does it refute global warming."

Long and his student assistants have pioneered the use of images generated
from the SeaWinds-on-QuikSCAT satellite for tracking icebergs. The NASA
satellite carries a device called a scatterometer, which measures the wind
speed and direction by recording the reflection of radar beams as they
bounce off ocean waves. Until recently, the resolution of the images
generated by the scatterometer was too low to distinguish icebergs. Long's
team developed a computer processing technique that produces images sharp
enough to reliably track icebergs.

The BYU group has been working with the National Ice Center since 1999, when
Long rediscovered a massive iceberg, the size of Rhode Island, threatening
Argentine shipping lanes. The Ice Center had lost track of it because of
cloudy skies.

Both Long and MacAyeal said this study does not rule out the possibility
that global warming is occurring, or that it could have a future effect on
the creation of large icebergs.

"Global warming is real," Long said. "The issues are -- is this strictly
man-made or is it part of normal cycles? There is evidence to support both
sides on that one."

============
(2) GREENLAND MELTING?

>From John-Daly.com, 27 October 2002
http://www.john-daly.com/#greenland

On October 24, 2002, the National Geographic Channel and the National
Geographic News, ran a story titled "Greenland Melting? Satellite to Help
Find Answer"
(http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/10/1024_021024_TVGreenland.htm
l). After an overview of a new NASA satellite named ICESat to be launched in
December 2002 and tasked to the study of ice and how it moves, the report
goes on to examine the impact of `global warming' on the Greenland ice cap.
The focus of the story was the Greenland fishing village of Ilulissat, on
the west coast of Greenland at (69.23N, 51.07W), The National Geographic
reports that 10% of all Greenland's icebergs come from Ilulissat (which
means "place by the icebergs") and that the residents of the town say the
ice is changing and not for the better, or so says the National Geographic.

An obvious question is: has the temperature in and about Ilulissat changed
as would be expected under conditions of global warming? While there is no
temperature history for Ilulissat available, there are two nearby GISS
Stations which can be used as a proxy for the temperature conditions in the
vicinity of Ilulissat.  The two stations are Jakobshavn (69.25N, 51.07W)
which is a mere 2km (1.24 miles) north of Ilulissat and Egedesminde
(68.70N, 52.75W) 89km (55.30 miles) south-west.

The histories for the two stations overlap for the period from 1950 to 1980
and show surprisingly good correlation, with Egedesminde being 0.41C
(0.74F) cooler on average than Jakobshavn, which is in a more sheltered
location. Current temperature conditions in the vicinity of Ilulissat are
cooler than they were during the period from the 1930's to the 1940's. Lest
climate alarmists gain false hopes from the increasing temperatures for
Egedesminde since 1993, it should be pointed out that if current trends
continue for 2002, Egedesminde will be a bit colder when the seasonal year
ends in November 2002, as GISS data for Egedesminde is already showing.
Given a 136 year temperature history for the area about Ilulissat Greenland,
three observations can be made:

1. The area about Ilulissat Greenland is subject to frequent and extreme
temperature changes.
2. From the 1860's to the 1930's the temperature in the vicinity of
Ilulissat was increasing,
3. Since the 1940's the temperature in the vicinity of Ilulissat has been
decreasing.

Other then the National Geographic, one has to wonder where all the hot air
is.  It is certainly not in Ilulissat Greenland.

(Item contributed by Miceal O'Ronain)

=================
(3) TRENDS IN SOUTHERN OCEAN SEA-ICE SEASON

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 23 October 2002
http://www.co2science.org/journal/2002/v5n43c1.htm

Reference
Parkinson, C.L.  2002.  Trends in the length of the southern Ocean sea-ice
season, 1979-99.  Annals of Glaciology 34: 435-440.

What was done
Satellite passive-microwave data were used to calculate and map the length
of the sea-ice season throughout the Southern Ocean for each year of the
period 1979-99.

What was learned
Over the 21 years of the study, most of the Ross Sea has, in the words of
the author, "undergone a lengthening of the sea-ice season, whereas most of
the Amundsen Sea ice cover and almost the entire Bellingshausen Sea ice
cover have undergone a shortening of the sea-ice season," while "results for
the Weddell Sea are mixed."  Overall, Parkinson reports that "the area of
the Southern Ocean experiencing a lengthening of the sea-ice season by at
least 1 day per year over the period 1979-99 is 5.6 x 106 km2, whereas the
area experiencing a shortening of the sea-ice season by at least 1 day per
year is 46% less than that, at 3.0 x 106 km2."

What it means
Although different sea-ice trends are clearly occurring in different sectors
of the Southern Ocean, there is no question that "a much larger area of the
Southern Ocean experienced an overall lengthening of the sea-ice season over
the 21 years 1979-99 than experienced a shortening," according to the
author, which, according to simple logic, is absolutely contrary to what
would be expected in a world that climate alarmists claim was concurrently
experiencing a warming they describe as unprecedented over the past thousand
years.
 
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


===========
(4) GROWING SEASON: IS IT INCREASING AS A RESULT OF GLOBAL WARMING?

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 23 October 2002
http://www.co2science.org/subject/g/summaries/growingseason.htm

Climate model predictions of global warming suggest that a number of
climate, weather and biological phenomena will be affected by the
atmosphere's increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. One such phenomenon
is the length of the growing season, which is projected by the models to
increase in direct response to a rise in global temperature. In this
summary, we review several studies that have examined growing season trends
and whether they can properly be attributed to CO2-induced global warming.

For the period 1930 to 1998, Kozlov and Berlina (2002) examined several
phenological variables to look for possible changes in the length of the
growing season in the taiga forests of northern Russia.  No trend in the
date of first snow was detected, but the date of permanent snow cover in the
forests began 13 days earlier at the end of the study period than at its
beginning. In addition, snow around tree-trunks was found to melt 16 days
later in the spring at the end of the record.  The duration of the snow-free
period in the forests also decreased by 20 days over the 68-year period,
while the ice-free period of lakes decreased by 15 days. Comparison of the
above trends with seasonal precipitation data failed to provide an
explanation for the observations.

Kozlov and Berlina note that the results of their study "clearly contradict
the expected regional warming" that is championed by believers in
CO2-induced global warming. In fact, the data represent such a dramatic
contradiction of the climate-alarmist thesis that the authors openly
questioned whether something was wrong with their data. However, as they
report, "close scrutiny of the original records, protocols, and other
relevant information did not reveal any possible source of error." Thus,
they confidently concluded that the length of the growing season on the Kola
Peninsula "really declined during the past 60 years due to both delayed
spring and advanced autumn/winter."

Elsewhere, Menzel and Fabian (1999) report different results for the growing
season in Europe, although their findings apply to a much shorter period of
time.  In a study of 30 years of phenological data derived from observations
of identical clones of trees and shrubs maintained by the European network
of the International Phenological Gardens - which network is located within
the area bounded by latitudes 42 and 69 N and by longitudes 10 W and 27 E
- they determined that the mean date of spring bud-break had advanced by
fully six days since the early 1960s, while leaf senescence in the fall had
been delayed by an average of 4.8 days over the same period.  Thus, for this
much shorter interval of time, Menzel and Fabian reported an approximate
eleven-day increase in the growing season.

What is the source of the apparent discrepancy between the results of the
two papers noted above?  The answer may lie in the degree to which the North
Atlantic Oscillation influences climate at the two locations.  According to
D'Odorico et al. (2002) - who investigated the possibility that earlier
onsets of the growing season in Europe are due to warmer winters that are
associated with a change in the phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation
(NAO) - "spring phenology in Europe is found to be significantly affected by
the North Atlantic Oscillation," with high-NAO (warm) winters hastening the
occurrence of spring phenophases (budburst and bloom), as well as the
production, release, dispersal and transport of pollen.  In fact, they
describe the relationship between the dependence of the onset of the pollen
season on the phases of the NAO as nothing short of remarkable.  They also
identified "a significant degree of dependence between NAO and spring
cryophenology in northern-central Europe," with high-NAO phases being
characterized by warmer winters leading to earlier dates of ice breakup.  In
accomplishing this task, D'Odorico et al. determined the NAO index
dependency of the dates of first leafing and blooming in a number of
different plants, the time of pollen season initiation, and the beginning
dates of ice breakup on several lakes.  Hence, if changes in the NAO largely
explain "both the high- and the low-frequency variability of plant
phenology," as these authors have shown, there's not much need to invoke
anything else as their cause, including global warming.

Moving to the United States, Robeson (2002) used daily minimum air
temperature data for the period 1906-1997 obtained from 36 U.S. Historical
Climatology Network stations in the state of Illinois to calculate the date
of last spring freeze, the date of first fall freeze, and the resulting
length of the freeze-free growing season.  They report that, "(1) the date
of the last spring freeze is nearly one week earlier now than it was 100
years ago, (2) fall freeze dates have not changed in a systematic fashion,
and (3) the growing season is nearly one week longer now," which directly
follows from observations 1 and 2.

With respect to the first of these observations, Robeson notes that it is
driven by the century-long amelioration of the very coldest spring minimum
temperatures and not by a uniform upward shift (warming) of the entire
distribution of all minimum temperatures for the month in which they
normally occur, i.e., April.  Likewise, he notes that the second phenomenon
is a result of the fact that the very coldest autumn minimum temperatures
have not changed all that much over the century of record, in spite of the
fact that the entire distribution of all minimum temperatures for the month
in which they normally occur, i.e., October, actually cooled at a very
significant rate.  The complexity of the results makes it difficult to point
to a particular forcing mechanism that could be responsible for the observed
trends.

Lastly, White et al. (1999) investigated growing season length over an
88-year period (1900-1987) for twelve sites in the eastern deciduous
broadleaf forest of the United States, noting that ten-day growing season
length decreases were characteristically observed over periods of one to two
decades throughout the 88-year study period, while increases of the same
magnitude occurred in as little as four to six years.  Thus, recent
observations of seven- to eight-day increases in growing season length in
high northern latitudes over the past decade or so (Myneni et al., 1997;
Zhou et al., 2001), which have been suggested by some to be evidence of
CO2-induced global warming, are, according to White et al., "neither unusual
nor necessarily a sign of permanent climate change."

In conclusion, it does not appear that changes in the length of the growing
season can be construed as evidence of CO2-induced global warming.

References
D'Odorico, P., Yoo, J-C. and Jaeger, S.  2002.  Changing seasons: An effect
of the North Atlantic Oscillation?  Journal of Climate 15: 435-445.

Kozlov, M.V. and Berlina, N.G.  2002.  Decline in length of the summer
season on the Kola Peninsula, Russia.  Climatic Change 54: 387-398.

Menzel, A. and Fabian, P.  1999.  Growing season extended in Europe.  Nature
397: 659.

Myneni, R.C., Keeling, C.D., Tucker, C.J., Asrar, G. and Nemani, R.R.  1997.
Increased plant growth in the northern high latitudes from 1981 to 1991.
Nature 386: 698-702.

Robeson, S.M.  2002.  Increasing growing-season length in Illinois during
the 20th century.  Climatic Change 52: 219-238.

White, M.A., Running, S.W. and Thornton, P.E.  1999.  The impact of
growing-season length variability on carbon assimilation and
evapotranspiration over 88 years in the eastern US deciduous forest.
International Journal of Biometeorology 42: 139-145.

Zhou, L., Tucker, C.J., Kaufmann, R.K., Slayback, D., Shabanov, N.V. and
Myneni, R.B.  2001.  Variations in northern vegetation activity inferred
from satellite data of vegetation index during 1981 to 1999.  Journal of
Geophysical Research 106: 20,069-20,083.
 
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


============
(5) THE CO2 PUZZLE: WHAT'S MAN-MADE AND WHAT'S NOT?

>From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

Carnegie Institution of Washington

Contact:
Erik Hauri, 202-478-8471, Hauri@dtm.ciw.edu

News Release: October 21, 2002

A new technique advances the CO2 puzzle -- what's man-made and what's not?

Washington, D.C. -- Until now, scientists have been unable to measure how
much of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) escapes from
the Earth's interior through lava -- an important piece of information for
determining how much atmospheric CO2 comes from man-made
sources instead of natural ones. Using a new technique that is able to
measure the concentration of different elements in incredibly tiny samples
of rock, researchers determined for the first time how much CO2 the molten
material contains. "Among other things," says study researcher Erik Hauri of
the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Terrestrial
Magnetism, "it's now possible to estimate precisely the sources of carbon in
the volcanic part of the planet's carbon cycle." Hauri and colleagues
published their results in the October 3 Nature.

The researchers analyzed bits of magma entrapped in crystals called olivine
from samples collected from the mid-ocean Siqueiros transform fault, which
is offset from the East Pacific Rise off of the coast of Mexico. Some 85% of
the world's volcanoes are located on such mid-ocean rises. Typically CO2 and
other volatiles bubble away into the atmosphere as they reach the
surface during eruptions and thus elude measurement. The trapped particles
of magma that the scientists collected, however, contained the original
amount of volatiles because the surrounding crystal prevented volatile loss.
Using a device called an ion microprobe, the researchers determined the
abundance of different isotopes, or atomic species, and measured the
volatiles present. They found that other non-volatile elements, notably
potassium and niobium, were correlated with the CO2, providing added
evidence that the CO2 concentrations are original.

"It's always eye opening," says Hauri, "to find quantitative connections
between the deep interior of the Earth and the chemistry of the oceans and
atmosphere. I believe that this new technique, applied to other volcanic
areas, will help scientists better define how much volcanoes are
contributing to the greenhouse effect." In addition to helping scientists
learn more about the planet's carbon cycle, the study is also important for advancing
our understanding of the convection process of the Earth's deep mantle, its
chemical composition, and the behavior of the overlying crust.

Researchers for this study include Alberto Saal and Charles Langmuir of the
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University; Michael Perfit of
the University of Florida's Department of Geological Sciences; and Erik
Hauri of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of
Washington.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington (www.CarnegieInstitution.org) has
been a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902. It is a private, nonprofit
organization with six research departments in the U.S.: Plant Biology,
Global Ecology, The Observatories, Embryology, Geophysical Laboratory, and
the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.

===========
(6) THE PRICE OF UK CLIMATE CHANGE LEVY: WINTER DEATHS AMONG THE ELDERLY RISE

>From BBC News Online, 24 October 2002
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2357237.stm
 
More and more elderly people are dying unnecessarily during winter cold
snaps, a charity has claimed.

Official figures released on Thursday show that excess winter deaths
increased by 10% last year.

In total, 27,300 more people than expected died last winter - and of these
25,100 were aged 65 or over.

The charity Age Concern says the number of excess deaths grew because more
and more pensioners are unable to heat their homes effectively over winter.

Director General of Age Concern England, Gordon Lishman, criticised the
government for leaving the elderly with too little cash to keep warm.

Disgrace

He said: "It is a national disgrace. A large proportion of these (deaths)
will be vulnerable older people who die in England and Wales in the winter
because of the cold.

"While we welcome the government's initiatives to fight fuel poverty among
older people, many of them still cannot afford sufficient heating or they
live in housing with inadequate insulation."

Excess winter deaths are the total number of deaths recorded between
December and March minus the average mortality rate for the four-month
periods preceding and following winter.

Mr Lishman said the government must now increase the level of state pension
and pledged that Age Concern would continue to offer vital winter services.

They include benefits advice, luncheon and day club services, emergency
heater loans, insulation grants and advice on repairs.

Ministers lambasted

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat spokesman on older people, said: "Ministers
should hang their heads in shame at these figures and explain why there has
been an increase on last year.

"The government cannot pretend that its winter fuel payments scheme is the
answer to this problem because these deaths occurred at a time when
pensioners have been receiving winter payments of 200 for two years.

"The oldest, frailest and most vulnerable old people are particularly at
risk in the winter.

"The government has consistently refused a substantial increase in pensions.


"Pensioner poverty and living conditions must be addressed as a matter of
urgency."

The ONS report said although the excess winter deaths figure was up, it was
still low when compared with previous years.

It said the winters of 1998.99 and 1999/2000 recorded excess deaths of
46,840 and 48,440 respectively.

Copyright 2002, BBC

=============
(7) DISASTER AREA: BLAMING CO2 FOR NATURAL CATASTROPHES

>From Tech Central Station, 18 October 2002
http://www.techcentralstation.be/2051/wrapper.jsp?PID=2051-100&CID=2051-101802A

by Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) just released a document
that calls for reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas
emissions. No surprise there. But this time UNEP is saying such reductions
are needed so that climate-disaster economic losses can be curtailed.

The UNEP Finance Initiatives Climate Change Working Group report (October 8,
2002) tries to pin economic losses from natural disasters like storms and
floods to the air's increase in human-made greenhouse gases which supposedly
has caused a globally-averaged warming. This warming, the report alleges,
should have spawned more - or more powerful - climate-related disasters like
storms.

Thus, UNEP asks developed economies like the United States to ration energy:
"...[P]olicymakers should commit to clear GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions
reduction targets via policies and measures consistent with the Kyoto
Protocol that establish a clear value on carbon ..." (p. 5, Module 1).

How credible is UNEP's speculation on increased storm or other weather
damage? Not very, since it includes several errors of fact and logic.

The UNEP report says, "Worldwide economic losses due to natural disasters
appear to be doubling every ten years, and have reached almost $1 trillion
[in U.S. 2001 dollars] over the past 15 years... If the current trends
persist, the annual loss amounts will, within the next decade, come close to
US$150 billion ..." (p. 6, Module 1).

UNEP shows a chart representing losses owing to "Great natural catastrophes"
over the last 50 years. It is complete with a red line curving quickly
upward demonstrating rapidly increasing losses (Figure 1, p. 6, Module 1).
UNEP extends that red line into the future in order to reach its projection
of US $150 billion annual losses within the next decade.

But to have minimal credibility, a forecast trend needs to start by fitting
the extant data. Mathematically, the UNEP fast-rising red line fails to fit
the data. For example, 1994 and 1995 had the highest loss costs of any years
in the 50-year record. Since then, losses have dropped. The rapidly-rising
red line fails to reflect the post-1995 data, and that failure means the
forecast trend for future high losses rests on all the confidence of
quicksand.

Next consider the relevance of the record of natural disasters to the air's
increased carbon dioxide content. The extraordinary losses in 1994 (over $80
billion) and 1995 (over $167 billion) are dominated by the costs of the
Northridge and Kobe earthquakes. Natural disasters like earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions cannot be linked in any believable way to the air's
increased concentration of greenhouse gases. Once non-weather events are
discarded from the analysis, the upswept curve is even less justifiable.

The possibility of grave economic losses in the future must be based on
credible predictions of weather disasters, a task not considered in the UNEP
report, since no one - including the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change - knows just how to do so.

To examine the believability of the UNEP claim of increasing
carbon-emission-related weather disasters, let's concentrate on the U.S.
record of economic losses due to hurricanes, which are America's costliest
weather disasters. The record accounting for these losses is thorough and
reaches back 100 years. That's a period that can be split into two parts,
before and after 1950 - that is, before and after the air's dramatic rise in
carbon dioxide content.

To make a fair comparison, the history of U.S. economic losses for
hurricanes must be adjusted for socio-economic factors. To compare losses
across decades, the values must be adjusted for increased population density
in areas harmed by hurricanes, increased property values and wealth, and
inflation. Once that's done, the normalized losses would have to show a rise
related to the air's increased content in carbon dioxide, in parallel with a
rise in storm severity or number of intense storms, as rated by measured
meteorological parameters.

Colorado and Florida researchers have provided the normalized losses for
U.S. hurricane damage over the last 100 years. In terms of normalized
losses, the most destructive year was 1926 with the Great Miami Hurricane.
That hurricane would have caused $80-90 billion in losses had it occurred in
the year 2000. The largest annual loss since 1926 occurred in 1992 with $40
billion in losses attributable primarily to Hurricane Andrew.

Of the years with normalized losses totaling $20 billion or more, five of
them occurred prior to 1950 (1900 - including the unnamed Galveston
Hurricane which killed over 6,000 people, the largest hurricane death toll
in U.S. history - then 1915, 1926, 1938 and 1944).

But after 1950 there are only two such years: 1954 (Hurricanes Carol and
Hazel) and 1992 (Hurricane Andrew).

Thus, the single largest normalized loss year for hurricanes, and five out
of seven of the years in which losses exceed $20 billion, occurred before
1950 - before the major increase in the air's concentration of
human-produced greenhouse gases. A linear trend of the normalized losses
from most-costly hurricanes through the 20th century would slope downward,
not upward, as UNEP contends.

As for measured hurricane parameters, consider maximum intensity or maximum
wind speed. If those parameters increase, it would likely yield greater
economic losses. But the maximum wind speed of the strongest Atlantic
hurricanes decreased from 1944 to 2000, the period studied by Florida and
Colorado hurricane experts.

Moreover, the most intense hurricanes come in three categories: Categories
3, 4 and 5 with a value of 5 indicating the most intense on the
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale. But the annual total number of the most
intense hurricanes over the Atlantic decreased since 1944. More precisely,
U.S. hurricane experts concluded that "[b]y far the biggest decade during
the last active era was the 1940s, where five major hurricanes made landfall
in Florida. This contrasts dramatically with the very low activity of the
1970s, 1980s and 1990s."

Thus, there is no evidence that a greenhouse-gas enhanced atmosphere has
produced either more intense or a greater number of severe hurricanes for
the U.S or evidence of greater economic losses, in terms of normalized
losses that fairly account for socio-economic changes.

The UNEP report goes so far as to acknowledge that any recent upsurge in
devastation is due not to climate-related factors, but to socio-economic
factors: "Although the steady increase in economic and insured losses is
more a function of the concentration of economic development in vulnerable
regions than climate change per se, it is clear that climate change will
exacerbate these loss trends" (p. 7, Module 1).

Nonetheless, against the views of normative science, the UNEP report claims
that, "Scientific and technical reports present compelling evidence that
human-induced climate change is upon us, and that its consequences could be
devastating..." (p. 8, Module 2).

And then the report frankly reveals its anxiety about being sidetracked by
recent "U.S. corporate governance and accounting scandals" or "increasing
concerns over the ability to fund burgeoning health and retirement
programs." UNEP frets: "...there is clearly a risk that the climate change
issue will not garner the level of attention necessary for any serious
action to take place" (p. 15, Module 2).

The UNEP disaster claim may be expected but is scientifically unsupported.

Copyright 2002, Tech Central Station

==============
(8) AND FINALLY: STOP GLOBAL WARMING OR NEW YORK SUBMERGES, PROPHETS OF DOOM
PREDICT

>From Planet Ark, 28 October 2002
http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/18347/story.htm
 
NEW DELHI - By the year 2080, Manhattan and Shanghai could be underwater,
droughts and floods could become more extreme and hundreds of millions of
people will be at risk from disease, starvation and water shortages.

That is the picture that a Greenpeace senior official painted of the future
if the world failed to take urgent steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions
and limit global warming.

"We're talking of about the submergence of islands, submergence of Shanghai,
the submergence of Bombay, the submergence of New York City," Greenpeace
climate policy director Steve Sawyer told Reuters late last week.

"Manhattan would be under water."

Sawyer, who is in New Delhi for a 10-day annual U.N. climate change
conference, said global warming would lead to the melting of the Greenland
ice sheet, which in turn would cause a five to seven metre (16 to 23 ft)
sea-level rise and the inundation of coastal regions.

"Most coastal cities would be uninhabitable in their present forms...and
that's a catastrophic change of the shape of continents."

Some environmentalists have said that recent climate disasters around the
world - from droughts in India, Australia and the United States to floods in
Europe - have been graphic harbingers of some of the expected consequences
of global warming.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that by
2100 global average surface temperature will be 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius
higher than it was in 1990.

Sawyer said an increase in temperatures would lead to more extreme droughts
and a rise in frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones.

"What these temperature changes are going to do to the hydrological cycle,
particularly in the tropics, is not a very pretty picture," he said.

Between 2050 and 2080, tens of millions of people would be more at risk of
malaria, coastal flooding and starvation and hundreds of millions of people
would be at risk from water shortages, he said.

Delegates from 185 countries are attending the climate conference, which is
likely to be the last major climate meeting before the 1997 Kyoto Protocol
is expected to come into force early next year.

The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the
developed world by 2012 to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.

But the United States, the world's biggest air polluter, has refused to
ratify the treaty, which it sees as flawed because it does not bind
developing countries. It also says it would hurt the U.S. economy.

The Earth Summit in Johannesburg earlier this year was widely criticised by
environmentalists and vulnerable Pacific nations for barely touching on the
problem of global warming. The United States was singled out for criticism.

Story by Sugita Katyal
 
Copyright 2002, Reuters

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