PLEASE NOTE:


*

NEO News (11/3/00) Possible impact prediction
see addendum below. bobk

CCNet 113/2000 - 3 November 2000
--------------------------------

* please accept my apologies for the hiccups suffered by JMU's listserver
  yesterday. BJP


      "If we'd known about the Kuiper Belt when Pluto was discovered
      [in 1930], it would have been a giant Kuiper Belt Object."
             -- Michael A'Hearn, University of Maryland


     "Every five years, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on  
     Climate Change (IPCC) assesses the state of global warming science.
     And every five years, The New York Times publishes dramatic
     revelations from a draft copy of the report slipped to them before
     the peer review process is complete. This year's newspaper storyline
     says the United Nations has dramatically increased the upper limit
     of its forecast of this century's climate change from 4.5C to 6.0
     C. This largely is based on illogical scenarios generated by the
     Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)
     at Columbia University."
         -- Greening Earth Society, 26 October 2000


(1) 'PLANET' DEFINITION IS BEING CHANGED: WILL IAU OVERCOME AMERICAN
    OBJECTIONS REGARDING PLUTO?
    Space.com, 2 November 2000

(2) ASTEROIDS GALORE
    Space Weather News for Nov. 2, 2000

(3) UK UNIVERSITIES LAUNCH ASTROBIOLOGY CENTE
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(4) CLARIFICATIONS ON THE LEAKED IPCC REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING
    Greening Earth Society, 26 October 2000, Vol. 1, No. 37

(5) EVIDENCE FOR K/T BOUNDARY CATASTOPHE IN TUNESIA
    D. Zaghbib-Turki et al.,

(6) CATASTOPHIC MASS EXTINCTION IN THE TERMINAL CRETACEOUS
    I. Arenillas et al.,

(7) MORE ON THE K/T BOUNDARY MASS EXTINCTION
    J.A. Arz et al.,

(8) GRADUALISTS STILL DOUBTING CATASTOPHIC K/T BOUNDARY MASS EXTINCTION
    S. A. Jafar

(9) IMPACTS & OXYGEN DEPLETION
    Leigh Palmer <palmer@sfu.ca>

(10) GLOBAL WARMING: COULD MAJORITY OF SCIENTISTS GOT IT WRONG?
     Victor Noto <vnn2@kua.net>

(11) SEA-LEVEL RECORD
     Roberto Gorelli <md6648@mclink.it
 
(12) AND FINALLY: APOCALYPTIC ASTEROIDS & AMERICAN POLITICS
     Journal of Millennial Studies, winter 2000:1


=============
(1) 'PLANET' DEFINITION IS BEING CHANGED: WILL IAU OVERCOME AMERICAN
    OBJECTIONS REGARDING PLUTO?

From Space.com, 2 November 2000
http://www.msnbc.com/news/484511.asp

By Robert Roy Britt

Traditional views of what makes a celestial body a planet, in place for
centuries and defined almost entirely by the nine with which we're most
familiar, have become thoroughly antiquated in five short years as a
host of new objects have been discovered. And so the word "planet" will
be redefined by the world organization authorized to do so, Space.com
has learned. The change could come as early as mid-November.

IN FACT, the International Astronomical Union, charged with classifying
heavenly objects, has never had a definition on record for planets.
Never needed one. Everyone instinctively knew what a planet was.

But starting in 1995, discoveries of huge planets around other stars,
plus new objects that are neither planet nor star, have forced the IAU
to draw some distinctions. The movement gained momentum in recent weeks
with the announcement of free-floating objects in space that look like
planets.

DOZENS OF EXOPLANETS

Since the first planet was discovered orbiting another star in 1995,
more than 50 extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, have been found. These
planets are nothing like what we're used to. They are huge - often many
times the mass of Jupiter - and some are altogether more like another
class of object, the brown dwarf.

Suspected since 1963 and confirmed to exist in 1995, brown dwarfs are
failed stars. Though huge, they never grew massive enough to initiate
the thermonuclear fusion that drives a real star. Yet most brown dwarfs
are enormous compared to the planets in our solar system. They can be up
to 75 times as massive as Jupiter.

But like a planet, a brown dwarf emits no light of its own. Some appear
very planetlike. They can have a diameter closer to Jupiter's and,
frequently, orbit a star just as a planet would.

Adding to this confusion are the objects that freely drift though space.
A batch of 18, revealed in October, have been called planets. But this
designation is totally counter to the notion that a planet is something
that orbits a star.

Though the free-floaters might be brown dwarfs, they have the light
signatures of planets, and they are just five to 15 times as massive as
Jupiter, a size range typically thought to be planetary.

"We are beginning to see this whole series of objects that we were not
able to detect before, and it's completely changing our ideas of
planetary formation and the mass of the objects we find," said Morris
Aizenman, a senior science associate in the Mathematical and Physical
Science Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

Aizenman and others say planetary and stellar sciences are undergoing a
revolution. The definition of a planet, meanwhile, is crumbling under
the weight of discovery.

PROBLEMS BIG AND SMALL

At the other end of the size spectrum, tiny Pluto should never have been
called a planet in the first place, most mainstream scientists agree.

Pluto is less than half the size of any other planet, and its orbit is
at a distinct angle from the plane in which the other planets travel
around the Sun. Most significant, Pluto roams so far beyond the orbit of
Neptune that researchers say it is part of the Kuiper Belt, a region of
distant, frozen rocks only confirmed to exist in 1992.

"If we'd known about the Kuiper Belt when Pluto was discovered [in
1930], it would have been a giant Kuiper Belt Object," said Michael
A'Hearn, a University of Maryland astronomer and past president of the
IAU's Planetary Systems Sciences division.

In early 1999, the IAU wrangled over giving Pluto dual status - both as
a planet and as a Trans-Neptunian Object, reflecting its distant
location. The plan was dropped after a public outcry led to hundreds of
e-mails to the IAU.

Collectively, the smaller bodies in the solar system, including comets
and asteroids, have come to be called minor planets (a term that is also
being debated). A'Hearn said all the definitions are fluid for good
reason: Scientists are still figuring out what the objects are.

Even in our own backyard. A'Hearn and others say it's reasonably likely
that another object as big or larger than Pluto will be found orbiting
the Sun even farther out. What happens then?

"Start the fight over again," A'Hearn said.

TEXTBOOK DEFINITION? GOOD LUCK

There are many strategies in the search for extraterrestrial life. Which
do you think could be the most fruitful?

Finding a textbook definition for the word "planet" is tricky.
Amazingly, many science and astronomy books - just like the IAU - don't
define the word. You won't find a basic definition in the New York
Public Library's Science Desk Reference, for example. And in the 1999
edition of Universe, a comprehensive tome used widely in college
courses, "planet" is not even an entry in the 21-page glossary.

How could this be?

Just five years ago, before any brown dwarfs or exoplanets had been
confirmed, there was a wide gap between the largest planet we knew of -
Jupiter - and the smallest known stars, which were 75 times the mass of
Jupiter.

"That made things nice and simple. Textbook simple," said the Carnegie
Institution's Alan Boss, who heads the 13-member IAU group that's trying
to define "planet." "You could say, 'This is a star, and this is a
planet.'" So simple we didn't need a textbook definition.

"Now, we realize things are not so clear," Boss said in an interview.
With the recent discovery of free-floating planetlike objects, a
months-old definition hammered out by the IAU group after much debate is
already outdated, he added.

"We're kind of starting all over again," Boss said. A draft
recommendation might be ready for review in two weeks, he added. But
first, there are some thorny issues to sort out.

THREE AREAS OF DIFFERENCE

The gray areas between planets and brown dwarfs boil down to three
things: their genesis, their orbit and their size.

If there were a textbook definition of planet, it would likely describe
an object that forms out of the swirling disk of gas and dust left after
the formation of a star. This is how our nine planets formed. Jill
Tarter, director of the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, favors this
definition for a planet.

But Tarter, who coined the term "brown dwarf" back in 1975 when the
objects were only theoretical, explains that you can't always tell how
an object formed. So she would also include the requirement that the
object orbits a star.

While this seems like an instinctive definition for a planet, it doesn't
account for the recently discovered planetlike objects roaming freely in
space. (Perhaps the ancients saw this coming: The Greek root of the word
"planet" means "to wander.")

To further complicate matters, brown dwarfs can meet the above two
"planet" requirements. They frequently are found orbiting a star in what
scientists call a binary arrangement, implying that they formed out of
the original disk of gas and dust.

Much of the current debate, therefore, centers on size.

And when a brown dwarf is about 13 times the mass of Jupiter, it
generates enough pressure to force the burning of deuterium, an isotope
of hydrogen. Planets cannot burn deuterium.

"Most people, but not all, would make the dividing line at whether or
not deuterium burns," said A'Hearn, the University of Maryland
astronomer.

This still leaves areas of confusion, allowing the possibility of some
brown dwarfs that are less massive than other objects that would be
classified as planets.

DEFINING A STAR

Brown dwarfs are the ill-defined middle ground between planets and
stars. A star is a star because it shines on its own, generating light
through thermonuclear reactions in which hydrogen is converted to
helium. Brown dwarfs, though they can burn deuterium in another type of
reaction called "core fusion," fall short of full-blown stellar
thermonuclear fusion.

But brown dwarfs can, like stars, be born out of an
otherwise-unorganized cloud of gas and dust, when gravity forces a
direct collapse of the cloud. And even stars cross the blurry lines of
definition.

"The fact is that stars form in disks as inevitably as planets,"
explained astronomer Gibor Basri of the University of California at
Berkeley. This happens in binary-star systems, where one star forms
first and the other is created from the leftovers.

DRAFTING A DEFINITION

Basri, who has written about the difference between brown dwarfs and
planets for Scientific American, just this week completed the draft of a
paper titled "What Is a Planet?" that he plans to submit to colleagues
for review and comment before seeking publication. He shared the draft
with Space.com. In it, he discusses two ways free-floating planets might
have formed.

"One is that they formed in planetary systems around stars ... and were
subsequently ejected from the system," Basri wrote. "The other
possibility is that these objects formed in isolation, or at least were
not originally bound to a star."

Either way, Basri suggested that existing terms and definitions are no
longer sufficient. Some new terms and definitions are needed to cut
through the scientific and cultural roadblocks that prevent clear and
accurate distinctions between planets and other objects.

"A planet is a spherical object never capable of core fusion, which is
formed in orbit around an object in which core fusion occurs at some
time." Or, if that's too much of a mouthful, Basri has a shorter
version: "A planet is a spherical non-fusor born in orbit around a
fusor."

Gone, it seems, are the days when our idea of a planet was so simple it
didn't even need a definition.

2000 Space.com. All rights reserved.

=================
(2) ASTEROIDS GALORE

From Space Weather News for Nov. 2, 2000
http://www.spaceweather.com

While asteroid Toutatis garnered plenty of attention as it passed by
Earth on Halloween, a newly-discovered space rock named 2000 UK11 glided
by almost 10 times closer than Toutatis during the early morning hours
of Nov. 1st.

Asteroid 2000 UK11, which was briefly visible through amateur
telescopes, is rapidly fading. But if you missed it, don't worry.
There's an even brighter near-Earth object (NEO) on the way: 2000 UG11.
Like Toutatis and 2000 UK11, there is no danger of a collision with 2000
UG11, which will pass 6 times farther from Earth than the Moon. Amateur
astronomers with 8 inch or larger telescopes and CCD cameras can spot the
fast-moving NEO early next week as it grows brighter than 14th magnitude.

In other news for sky watchers, SOHO coronagraphs recorded a solar
coronal mass ejection yesterday that could strike Earth's magnetosphere
and trigger geomagnetic activity this weekend.

For images and animations of the asteroids and yesterday's CME, please
visit http://www.spaceweather.com.

=================
(3) UK UNIVERSITIES LAUNCH ASTROBIOLOGY CENTER

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

External Relations
Cardiff University
Cardiff, U.K.

Universities launch Astrobiology Centre

Cardiff is to become home to the UK's first Centre for Astrobiology --
providing the UK with a facility to contribute to space missions probing
for life on solar system bodies.

The Centre, a joint initiative between Cardiff University and the
University of Wales College of Medicine, forges a connection between
astronomy and biology. It is led by two UK leaders in these fields:
Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and Professor Anthony Campbell.

The Centre combines research interests in astronomy and molecular cell
biology to throw light on the emergence and development of life in the
cosmos and planetary bodies. The work of the Centre will also provide
information essential for the emergent discipline of space medicine.

Initial research will focus on seeking evidence of the existence of
biomolecules and cells in the upper atmosphere as well as in comets and
interstellar dust; evidence for the existence of life molecules and
processes in material recovered from space; and the effect of space
conditions of living systems.

"The unique combination of astronomy and molecular cell biology will
provide Cardiff will a centre of world excellence," said Professor
Wickramasinghe. "It will give us the facility to contribute to space
missions probing for life on solar system bodies."

To mark the opening of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, an inaugural
lecture will take place at 7.00pm on Monday, 6 November 2000 at Cardiff
University. The lecture, entitled "The search for extraterrestrial
intelligence in the optical spectrum" will be delivered by Dr Stuart A
Kingsley, Director of the Columbus Optical SETI (Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Observatory in the USA.

Born and educated in the UK, Dr Kingsley moved to the United States in
1981. He has gained an international reputation for his pioneering work
on fibre-optic systems which, since 1990, he has applied to the Search
for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Notes to editors

Admission to the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology inaugural lecture "The
search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the optical spectrum" is
free. For further information contact Cardiff University's External
Relations Division on 029 20 874499.

Further information

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, School of Mathematics Cardiff
University
Tel: 029 2087 4201
Out-of-hours: 029 2075 2146
Email: Wickramasinghe@cf.ac.uk

Professor Anthony Chapman, Department of Medical Biochemistry
University of Wales College of Medicine
Tel: 029 2074 2805
Email: CampbellAK@cf.ac.uk

Debra Lewis, Public Relations Officer
Cardiff University
Tel: 029 2087 4499
Mob: 07970 963633
Email: LewisD4@cf.ac.uk

=================
(4) CLARIFICATIONS ON THE LEAKED IPCC REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING

From Greening Earth Society, 26 October 2000, Vol. 1, No. 37
http://www.greeningearthsociety.org/Articles/2000/vca37.htm

Every five years, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) assesses the state of global warming science. And every
five years, The New York Times publishes dramatic revelations from a
draft copy of the report slipped to them *before* the peer review
process is complete. This year's newspaper storyline says the United
Nations has dramatically increased the upper limit of its forecast of
this century's climate change from 4.5C to 6.0C. This largely is based
on illogical scenarios generated by the Center for International Earth
Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University.

The CIESIN also calls their scenarios storylines. Got that? What we have
here is a storyline based on storylines. In any case CIESIN storylines
assume certain social scenarios. They then generate profiles for
emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that will warm the
atmosphere and emissions of purported cooling agents called sulfate
aerosols.

CIESIN's Storyline A1 describes "a future world of very rapid economic
growth ... in this world people pursue personal wealth rather than
environmental quality". The real world storyline, as the United States'
experience demonstrates, is the existence of a logical and strong
correlation between personal wealth and environmental quality. This is
because "excess" capital is required for investment in an increasingly
clean infrastructure.

This and other storylines first were published in a non-peer-reviewed
report by Tom Wigley, a government climatologist at the National Center
for Atmospheric Research. His report was produced by the Pew Foundation
Center on Global Climatic Change, which advocates passage of the Kyoto
Protocol on climate change.

In his article for the Times, Andrew Revkin notes how his leaked copy of
the IPCC document was supplied by "someone who was eager to have the
findings disseminated before the meetings in The Hague." Those meetings
are supposed to seek means to overcome industrial nations' resistance
and implement the Kyoto Protocol. We will note that the Pew Climate
Change Center is headed by Eileen Claussen, a former State Department
official instrumental in formulating the U.S. negotiation posture that
resulted in the United States agreeing to dramatic, expensive, and
unreachable reductions in greenhouse emissions.

When the Pew Center published Wigley's pamphlet, they stated that his
scenarios (those original storylines) would be incorporated into the
IPCC's new assessment of climate change. In other words, an illogical
series of assumptions that received no peer review became the basis for
the self-appointed "consensus of scientists" who comprise the IPCC. And
even if one argues the IPCC process is a peer-review process, we're now
learning of conclusions based on those storylines before that
peer-review process is complete. As Revkin notes, "Given the
significance of the issue and the disagreements over how to deal with
it, there are likely to be changes before the summary and the 14
chapters of research underlying it go to print sometime next year,
several scientists involved in the process said."

Importance of Sulfate Cooling

This entire, much-dreaded edifice of enhanced warming hangs upon the
slender thread of cooling by sulfates, which are supposed to be
dramatically cleansed from the atmosphere within the next few decades.
At the time the IPCC report was being written, a yet-to-be-published
paper, which subsequently appeared in the September 15th edition of
Geophysical Research Letters demonstrates that climate models using
sulfate cooling and greenhouse warming simply cannot explain why
integrated warming of the troposphere (the bottom layer of the
atmosphere) is ten times less than what was forecast for the last
quarter-century.

After allowing for volcanic and El Nio/Southern Oscilliation (ENSO)
activity in the last quarter-century, there simply is no warming in the
upper 80 percent of the lower atmosphere. What warming is there is
confined to the bottom 20 percent. And over two thirds of that warming
is in the winter, as shown in the journal Climate Research. Further,
over three-quarters of that warming is confined to the coldest and most
deadly air masses originating in Siberia and northwestern North America.

A simpler, and obvious test of the sulfate hypothesis can be gained by
looking at Northern vs. Southern Hemisphere temperatures in the lower
troposphere. As shown in a landmark paper by Santer et al. in 1996,
sulfate cooling should dominate in the Northern Hemisphere so that the
difference between the hemispheres (Northern minus Southern) should be
decreasing significantly. As shown below, the change is in the opposite
direction (see graph on website)!

As a result of this and other research, many atmospheric scientists
(including the esteemed Gerry North of Texas A&M University) now believe
that effect of sulfate cooling has been drastically overestimated.

Predicting 100 Years of Technological Change

The climate warming consequence of what we will dub the
CIESIN/Wigley/Pew storyline is "high" because it assumes not only that
sulfates are important, but because it assumes that they will be rapidly
removed from the atmosphere in coming decades at the same time as they
are replaced by dramatically increasing greenhouse emissions. In fact,
no one knows how our energy structure will evolve in the next hundred
years. Consider the transition over the last hundred - from horses to
jet planes, from wood heating to nuclear power. None of that could have
been nor was it predicted. It is fair to say that what was not predicted
has had a much greater impact on society than what was. This also was
true for the century before that. Yet we are to believe there is a
scientific consensus about what to anticipate during the next hundred
years of technological evolution?

Internal Inconsistency of UN Estimates

The same draft version of the not yet fully peer-reviewed IPCC report
contains a summary of the dozens of computer models for climate change.
We include it as Figure 2, below.

Note how the average magnitude of projected change is not even close to
the 6C touted in press coverage of the leaked summary. Furthermore, the
central tendency of all of the models is around 2C - or very near the
bottom limit of warming (1.5C) given by the IPCC. Admittedly, these
results are not exactly comparable because they incorporate slightly
different in time scales. Nevertheless, suddenly the IPCC - in theory
largely basing its projections on these types of climate models - now
chooses an extreme value, one not even indicated by these calculations.

Warming Linearity

The Times cites a broad consensus of scientists who believe that human
warming has been going on for some time now. This is very likely to be
correct because of the propensity for recent warming to be in the winter
and in frigid air. This is where greenhouse theory predicts the largest
changes to take place. But also note from Figure 2, how once human
warming starts almost all models, including the average of all models,
predicts a straight-line (constant) warming, rather than an exponential
increase.

This is important, because if the warming of recent decades largely is a
human product, then we in effect already know the rate of warming for
this century (barring any major decreases in greenhouse emissions). It
works out to something just under 1.5C, which is the figure one must
arrive at if one believes the vast majority of climate models that state
human warming takes place at a constant rate. Further, the winter/summer
differential among models also remains quite constant. This means that
this century is likely to experience a considerable warming of the
coldest winter temperatures and relatively little change in summer
temperature.

In summary, in order to reach the inflammatory and alarming projections
described in the document leaked to The New York Times and other media
outlets, one has to assume illogical social behavior, an ability to
forecast technology a hundred years from now better than anyone in human
history has been able to before now, and an argument about sulfate
cooling unable stand a reality test.

References:

Michaels, P.J., and P.C. Knappenberger, 2000. Natural Signals in the MSU
Lower Tropospheric Temperature Record. Geophysical Research Letters 27,
2905-2908.

Michaels, P.J., Knappenberger, P.C., Balling, R.C., and R. E. Davis,
2000. Observed Warming in Cold Anticyclones. Climate Research 14, 1-6.

Santer, B.D., et al., 1996. A Search for Human Influenced on the Thermal
Structure of the Atmosphere. Nature, 382, 36-45.

Copyright 2000, Greening Earth Society

=============
(5) EVIDENCE FOR K/T BOUNDARY CATASTOPHE IN TUNESIA

D. Zaghbib-Turki, N. Karoui-Yaakoub, R. Rocchia, E. Robin, H. Belayouni:
Characteristic events record of the K/T boundary in the Elles section
(Tunisia). COMPTES RENDUS DE L ACADEMIE DES SCIENCES SERIE II FASCICULE
A-SCIENCES DE LA TERRE ET DES PLANETES 331: (2) 141-149, 2000

The review of the Cretaceous-Paleogene interval deposits of the Elles
section based on a detailed sampling gives a good characterization of
the K/T boundary and reconstitution of the geological events underlining
this boundary. Thus, the discovery of a thin Ir-rich layer, with Ni and
Cr-rich spinel and shocked quartz is a well preserved record of the
known cosmic event that occurred at that time. This sudden event is also
corroborated by the quantitative and qualitative organic components
distribution along the K/T interval. Added to some other long-term
events (e.g. climatic, eustatic), it generated a mass extinction, at the
K/T boundary, of specialists among the Globotruncanids and
Heterohelicids planktic foraminifera species. Following this biological
crisis, the biotic turnover into the Danian is slow. The underlining of
all the Cretaceous-Tertiary interval biozones attests that the Ellis
section is complete. If compared to the K/T stratotype and Fl Kef II
sections, the Elles section is found to display a better exposure of the
K/T interval and shows more expanded zones and subzones. Such
characteristics promote the Elles section to be considered as a
parastratotype. (C) 2000 Academie des sciences/Editions scientifiques et
medicales Elsevier SAS.

Addresses:
Rocchia R, CEA, CNRS, Lab Sci Clim & Environm, La Terrasse, F-91198 Gif
Sur Yvette, France.; CEA, CNRS, Lab Sci Clim & Environm, F-91198 Gif Sur
Yvette, France. Fac Sci Tunis, Dept Geol, Tunis 1060, Tunisia.

============
(6) CATASTOPHIC MASS EXTINCTION IN THE TERMINAL CRETACEOUS

I. Arenillas, J.A. Arz, E. Molina, C. Dupuis: The Cretaceous/Paleogene
(K/P) boundary at Ain Settara, Tunisia: Sudden catastrophic mass
extinction in planktic foraminifera. JOURNAL OF FORAMINIFERAL RESEARCH
30: (3) 202-218 JUL 2000

The quantitative study and high resolution sampling of an essentially
continuous and expanded Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/P) boundary section in
Tunisia allow us to test the model of extinction in planktic
foraminifera. The extinction at the Ain Settara section occurred over a
short period of time similar to the Tunisian sections at El Kef and
Elles and the Spanish sections at Agost, Caravaca and Zumaya, At Ain
Settara only 3 species disappeared in the latest Maastrichtian, 45
became extinct precisely at the K/M boundary and 18 disappeared in the
earliest Danian. The species that became extinct at the K/P boundary
constitute about 20% of the individuals in the population larger than 63
microns and 68% of the species, which suddenly became extinct in a
catastrophic event precisely coinciding with the layer containing
evidence for an asteroid impact. Most of these species are large,
complex and low latitude deeper to intermediate dwelling forms. This
extinction event is clearly the most important catastrophic mass
extinction recorded in the history of planktic foraminifera. This
pattern of extinction is superimposed on a controversial gradual pattern
of extinction of 21 species that apparently began in the latest
Maastrichtian and ended in the early Danian, The Maastrichtian species
that seem to become extinct gradually are generally small, cosmopolitan
and simple surface dwellers. The catastrophic mass extinction of the 45
species coincident with the K/P boundary is compatible with the effect
of the impact of a large asteroid, whereas the gradual extinction of 18
species in the basal Danian could also be attributed to the long term
disruptive effect of the impact. Copyright 2000 Institute for
Scientific Information


Addresses:
Arenillas I, Univ Zaragoza, Dept Ciencias Tierra, Area Paleontol,
E-50009 Zaragoza, Spain.; Univ Zaragoza, Dept Ciencias Tierra, Area
Paleontol, E-50009 Zaragoza, Spain.; Univ Autonoma Nuevo Leon, Fac
Ciencias Tierra, Linares 67700, Mexico. Fac Polytech Mons, Lab Geol
Fondamentale & Appl, B-7000 Mons, Belgium.

================
(7) MORE ON THE K/T BOUNDARY MASS EXTINCTION

J.A. Arz, I. Arenillas, E. Molina, R. Sepulveda: Planktonic
foraminiferal stability in the Upper Maastrichtian and the catastrophic
mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) boundary at Caravaca
(Spain). REVISTA GEOLOGICA DE CHILE 27: (1) 27-47, 2000

The planktic foraminiferal quantitative and biostratigraphic study
across the K/T boundary at the Caravaca section provides proof of the
stratigraphical range continuity and the evolutive stability of species
in the Upper Maastrichtian. In Caravaca, the planktic foraminiferal
extinction pattern is a catastrophic mass extinction since 74% of the
species went extinct in coincidence with the K/T boundary and with the
evidence of impact. This pattern can be similarly identified in other
Tethyan sections and, for this reason, the authors consider that the
supposed extinctions suggested by other authors in Caravaca could be
caused by the Signor-Lipps effect. In this study, it was found that
possibly 17 Cretaceous species survived the K/T event and their relative
abundance suddenly drops above the K/T boundary (ARECS curve). This
decrease can be a consequence of the progressive decline in abundance of
the Cretaceous species that survived due to biological competition with
the new Tertiary species or, simply, the decrease in the relative
proportion of reworked specimens. Nevertheless, independently of the
fact that some species survived the K/T event, the existence of a
gradual extinction pattern in the lowermost part of the Danian does not
refute the hypothesis of a catastrophic event in coincidence with the
K/T boundary. The K/T planktic foraminiferal catastrophic mass
extinction of more than 70% is very compatible with the hypothesis of
the impact of a large asteroid and its effects in the short, middle and
long term. Copyright 2000 Institute for Scientific Information

Addresses:
Arz JA, Univ Autonoma Nuevo Leon, Fac Ciencias Tierra, MEX-67700
Linares, Mexico.; Univ Autonoma Nuevo Leon, Fac Ciencias Tierra,
MEX-67700 Linares, Mexico.

=================
(8) GRADUALISTS STILL DOUBTING CATASTOPHIC K/T BOUNDARY MASS EXTINCTION

S. A. Jafar: A magnitude induced model for mass extinctions in the
geologic record: Evidence from Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary. NEUES
JAHRBUCH FUR GEOLOGIE UND PALAONTOLOGIE-ABHANDLUNGEN
217: (2) 161-197, 2000

Relatively small magnitude combined with great numbers and high
diversity of calcareous walled fossil plankton provide false impression
of "massive", "mass" or "catastrophic" extinction at the
Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary, as revealed by detailed and critical
evaluation of coccoliths and foraminifera. Each "mass extinction" in the
geologic record is considered as a unique megaevolutionary event,
comprising of different set of fossils acid signifies accidental
clustering of normal "background extinction". In the "Magnitude Fatigue
Factor Model" proposed herein, which is independent of any
spatiotemporal and taxonomic constraints, the interplay of mutation and
natural selection, invariably results in offspring population consisting
of relatively small, medium and large or giant Forms, which may become
extinct before or near the mass extinction boundary, leading to complete
extermination of a group viz. dinosaurs, ammonites etc. Large or giant
forms represent evolutionary dead ends and invariably fail to produce
offspring, and prior to extinction may or may not produce numerous
neotenic forms immediately below and above the boundary (=
disappearing). Medium and small magnitude forms also So extinct, but a
few manage to cross over the boundary without much change (= "crossing
over"), while medium forms display normal rate of evolution and produce
offspring including "living fossil", the small forms remarkably show
most rapid rate of evolution leading to innovations (= "appearing") and
restoration of biodiversity. Copyright 2000 Institute for Scientific
Information

Addresses:
Jafar SA, Univ Tubingen, Inst Geol Palaontol, Sigwartstr 10, D-72076
Tubingen, Germany.; Univ Tubingen, Inst Geol Palaontol, D-72076
Tubingen, Germany. Birbal Sahni Inst Paleobot, Lucknow 226007, Uttar
Pradesh, India.

=============================
* LETTERS TO THE MODERATOR *
=============================

(9) IMPACTS & OXYGEN DEPLETION

From Leigh Palmer <palmer@sfu.ca>

Dear Benny,

Andy Smith <astrosafe@yahoo.com> has expressed his concern regarding
oxygen depletion in Earth's atmosphere attendant to fires which may be
burning after an asteroidal impact. I think this is unnecessarily
alarmist. There's a lot of oxygen in the atmosphere, 60,000 moles above
each square meter of Earth's surface, plus a bit more (250 moles)
dissolved in the oceans.

For a scientific appraisal of the potential depletion which could be
expected one might usefully consult the article "Man's Oxygen Reserves"
by Wallace S. Broecker in Science, vol. 168, pp. 1537-1538. The article
appears in the same issue of Science as an article which reports the
measurement of atmospheric oxygen content: L. Machta and E. Hughes,
"Atmospheric Oxygen in 1967 to 1970", Science, vol. 168, pp. 1582-1584.
These articles appeared in direct response to another
alarmist idea, the worry that Man's activities might deplete the oxygen
in the atmosphere.

Leigh Palmer
--
Leigh Hunt Palmer                                  Phone: 604 291 4844
Department of Physics                                FAX: 604 291 3592
Simon Fraser University                             Home: 604 299 3731
Burnaby, BC  V5A 1S6                              email: palmer@sfu.ca
CANADA                                              122d58m W 49d17m N

=================
(10) GLOBAL WARMING: COULD MAJORITY OF SCIENTISTS GOT IT WRONG?

From Victor Noto <vnn2@kua.net>

Benny

I have been noticing your concentration of anti-environmentalist
articles concerning global warming. Are you trying to send a message
that the majority of the world scientists who study the environment are
all wrong about the warming of the planet? I want some balance here and
some articles on the other side of the issue so I can make a more
informed decision.

Thanks

Victor Noto


MODERATOR'S NOTE:

Victor has raised an interesting question: could the majority of the
world's scientists be wrong about global warming? In all fairness, this
is not the real issue here. The real questions are: i) whether the
current warming trend is man-made or rather a natural process and, ii)
whether this warming will have catastrophic or rather benefitial effects
on societies troughout the world. Since we are in no position to answer
these questions with any degree of confidence, I do believe that there
is a pretty good chance that the majority of scientists (and science
journalists) may got it wrong. After all, most scientists are always
wrong, because if they were right, we would no longer need peer-reviews,
methodological criticism or falsification attempts, let alone scientific
paradigm shifts in the future.

Regarding the global warming debates, even the current warming trend
isn't that clear-cut. In the U.S., for instance, a cooling trend in
recent decades has been observed in the fall across much of the central
and eastern U.S. Tree rings, sediment samples, and ice cores show that
human cultures have seen much more severe temperature swings than we
have wittnessed in modern times. "We have satellite records that fly in
polar orbits, measuring the entire earth. They don't show any warming
over the last two decades. We have balloons that go up around the world
twice every day. The balloon records of temperatures are in perfect
agreement with the satellite record," says Dr. Robert Balling, director
of the Office of Climatology and professor in the department of
geography at Arizona State University. In short, there is no scientific
consensus whatsoever about the issue global warming.

People interested in the history of science should also be aware that
the global warming scare needs to be understood in the context of a
religious and secularised apocalyptic culture that has always perceived
change as a downward process of cultural and natural regression. As far
as CCNet is concerned, I will continue to present *scientific* data that
is all too often ignored by the both researchers and media outlets.
Given the dominance of the global warming scare in the popular media,
this skeptical philosophy should serve as a sober counter-blance for
those readers interested in the empirical evidence of a public
controversy that affects not only the world of science but also politics
and culture.

BJP

=============
(11) SEA-LEVEL RECORD

From: Roberto Gorelli <md6648@mclink.it
 
Re: THE WORLD'S LONGEST OBSERVATIONAL SEA-LEVEL RECORD

Ekman, M. 1999. Climate changes detected through the world's longest sea
level series. Global and Planetary Change 21: 215-224.

I'm not a specialist of the field, but I would want to point out that
Stockholm, perhaps also the Maine, is not the ideal point in order to
measure the variation of height of the oceans, in fact Stockholm is
situated in the Scandinavian hoof that is still raising  for to reach at
the isostatic equilibrium after the fusion of the  ice of the last
glaciation, for which would have to introduce a  corrective factor.
Perhaps more it would be corrected to use the series of measurements of
other European countries that did not have glacial caps and have long
series of measurements of the sea level.

Best greetings.
Roberto Gorelli
 
MODERATOR'S NOTE: As pointed out in the CCNet issue of 20 October, the
evidence for natural variation in sea-level changes also occurred in
those parts of the non-glaciated, tectonically-stable regions of the
Southern Hemisphere.

Baker, R.G.V. and Haworth, R.J.  2000.  Smooth or oscillating late
Holocene sea-level curve?  Evidence from cross-regional statistical
regressions of fixed biological indicators.  Marine Geology 163:
353-365.

Baker, R.G.V. and Haworth, R.J.  2000.  Smooth or oscillating late
Holocene sea-level curve?  Evidence from the palaeo-zoology of fixed
biological indicators in east Australia and beyond.  Marine Geology 163:
367-386.

The authors present substantial evidence that sea-level, as measured
over large portions of the Southern Hemisphere, has declined
significantly since approximately 6,000 years ago. But has the journey
been smooth or oscillatory? In attempting to answer this question, they
review data, including much of their own, obtained from a number of
different places in the non-glaciated, tectonically-stable regions of
the Southern Hemisphere.

For the period from 6,000 to 600 years before present, the authors
demonstrate that an oscillatory mode of sea-level decline is just as
likely to have occurred, in terms of "statistical justification" based
on the available data, as a smooth decline.

In the words of the authors, "whether or not sea level has been subject
to low-amplitude fluctuations during the late Holocene (the last ~ 6000
years) is a subject that has taken on increased importance in view of
claims of possible sea-level rise associated with human-induced global
warming." If, for example, sea-level has oscillated somewhat over this
period (the authors say it could have had an oscillatory amplitude of
one meter or more!), it is possible the sea-level's current rising mode
may be nothing more than a small portion of a natural oscillation having
nothing to do with the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content. The
authors' finding that this type of sea-level behavior is just as likely
to be true as not thus casts a pall of suspicion over climate alarmist
claims that the continued burning of fossil fuels will lead to the
inundation of low-lying coastal areas and islands.

Copyright 2000. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global
Change

==============
(12) AND FINALLY: APOCALYPTIC ASTEROIDS & AMERICAN POLITICS

From the Journal of Millennial Studies, winter 2000:1
http://www.mille.org/publications/winter2000/Watson.PDF

How Pat Finally Gets Even: Apocalyptic Asteroids and American Politics
In Pat Robertson's The End of the Age

By Justin Watson, Department of Religion, Florida State University

[...] The End of the Age begins in the year 2000--no specific day is
given--when a kilometer-wide asteroid hits the Pacific Ocean near Los
Angeles. The impact not only destroys that city but sets off a chain
reaction of natural disasters: tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic
eruptions. With hundreds of millions dead, and billions endangered, the
entire world tumbles into political, social, and economic chaos--the
biblically prophesied Great Tribulation.

How does humanity deal with this crisis? In a word, badly. The President
of the United States, for example, commits suicide. The Vice President
gets drunk. There is widespread panic and looting. Those selling food
and fuel greedily raise their prices to make a quick profit from the
misfortune of others. In the ensuing chaos, Revelation's prophecy of the
Beast, the Antichrist, is fulfilled. A New York City Congressman, with
powers and charisma granted by the Hindu god Shiva, becomes President.
He eventually establishes a totalitarian global government, the Union
for Peace, with its new capital built on the site of ancient Babylon.
Shot in the head by an assassin, he comes back to life and is worshiped
by everyone as god incarnate. Everyone except, as Robertson writes, "a
few dedicated followers of Jesus Christ and a small handful of Orthodox
Jews." Christians, persecuted by the Antichrist's brutal regime, create
an underground resistance movement. They are aided by a righteous
Secretary of Defense and elements of the U.S. military........

FULL ARTICLE at http://www.mille.org/publications/winter2000/Watson.PDF

----------------------------------------
THE CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE NETWORK (CCNet)
----------------------------------------
The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe,
please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and
educational use only. The attached information may not be copied or
reproduced for any other purposes without prior permission of the
copyright holders. The fully indexed archive of the CCNet, from
February 1997 on, can be found at
http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/cccmenu.html
DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the
articles and texts and in other CCNet contributions do not
necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of
the moderator of this network.


*

[addendum]:

SMALL UNIDENTIFIED SPACE OBJECT TRIGGERS ANOTHER ASTEROID SCARE

From Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>

A tiny space object measuring between 30 to 70 metres in size and which may
turn out to be nothing more than a stage of an old Apollo rocket has stirred
yet another public impact warning. The "possible impact prediction" for the
year 2030 was made public because, as the announcement below suggests, it
may eventually turn out to be an asteroid, rather than part of a rocket. If
this were the case, it would have an impact probability of 1 on the
so-called Torino Scale.

However, given that the object will be observable with large telescopes
for many months to come, and given that there is absolutely no urgency
for any protective meassures whatsoever, it is unclear why such a high-level
announcement was made at this particular time. After all, the most likely
outcome of further observational data will be that this latest impact
prediction too will have to be retracted again, just as all
previous asteroid scares turned out to be unnecessary and premature.

Apart from the uncertainty whether or not we are actually dealing with
an asteroid at all, it should also be stressed that the observational data
produced by LINEAR in May of 1999 is not entirely reliable since it is
based on observations taken during a one-night stand. It is common knowledge
that such limited data cannot be completely relied upon.

Given all of these significant uncertainties, it seems rather odd why this
public impact warning was made in the first place. As in all  previous cases
of unnecessary asteroid scares, what is really needed in the months to come
are further observations (or pre-covery data) of the object in order to
refine its orbit. Since this will be possible for almost another year,
wouldn't it have been wiser to wait with yet another
asteroid impact prediction until we have obtained more reliable and more
trustworthy information?

Benny J Peiser


-------

NEO News (11/3/00) Possible impact prediction

Dear Friends and Students of NEOs:

Information is being released this morning from NASA and the
International Astronomical Union (IAU) concerning a possible impact
in 2030 by asteroid 2000 SG344.  This is the first verified impact
prediction at a level of probability (1 in 500) to put it above
hazard level 0 on the Torino hazard scale.  While this prediction is
no cause for alarm, it certainly focuses attention on the long-term
impact hazard.  Since the asteroid has a very small space velocity
with respect to the Earth, it would be rather likely to survive down
to the surface in the unlikely event of an impact in 2030.  The
energy is such a case would be about 1/10 of the Tunguska impact and
about 100 times the Hiroshima bomb.  Additional observations this
winter may significantly improve the orbit, but unfortunately it
already seems to be out of the range of even the powerful Arecibo
radar.  Definitive information on the orbit might therefore not be
obtained until 2028, as it again approaches the Earth.

David Morrison

Following is a statement prepared by Don Yeomans of JPL:

Recent computations by a group of international experts suggest a
very small asteroid-like object, designated 2000 SG344, has a remote
1 in 500 chance of impacting the Earth in 2030.  These results have
been verified by a Technical Review Team of the International
Astronomical Union.  The greatest likelihood is that future
observations of the object will yield higher precision orbit
computations that will show with certainty that it will miss the
Earth entirely.  The unusual nature of the orbit of 2000 SG344
suggests the possibility that it is simply a man-made rocket booster
from the Apollo era.

Object 2000 SG344 was discovered on September 29, 2000 by David J.
Tholen and Robert J. Whiteley using the Canada-France-Hawaii
3.6-meter aperture telescope on the island of Hawaii.  Shortly
thereafter, pre-discovery observations taken in May 1999 by MIT's
LINEAR observatory team were also identified. Given the observed
brightness of the object and its assumed reflectivity, an estimate
can be made for its diameter.  While the reflectivity of this object
is not known, values typical for near-Earth asteroids imply this
object's extent is about  30-70 meters.  Paul Chodas of the
Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory estimates a one in 500 chance of it hitting
the Earth on September 21, 2030.  The possibility of an Earth
impacting orbit was confirmed by Steven Chesley (NASA/JPL), Giovanni
Valsecchi (Italian National Research Center in Rome Italy), Andrea
Milani (University of Pisa, Italy) and Karri Muinonen (University of
Helsinki).  If the object is near the large end of the estimated size
range for an asteroid, it would be classified as category 1 within
the 10 point Torino Scale,meaning the object is one that merits
careful monitoring.  If the object's size is closer to the lower
limit of 30 meters, it would be classified as Torino Scale 0 and
hence not of immediate concern.

Because the orbital period of this object about the sun is 354 days,
it moves a bit faster than the Earth about the Sun so it is drifting
slowly away and will not return to the Earth's neighborhood until
nearly three decades.  It was last in the Earth's neighborhood in
1971.  As yet undiscovered pre-discovery observations made in 1971
and additional observations made in the coming months would provide
the data for further refining this object's orbit and the
circumstances of its close Earth approach in 2030.  During the 2030
close approach, the perturbative effects of the Earth upon the object
could change its orbital period so that numerous encounters might be
possible after 2030.  The likelihood of this situation is also under
study.

Because of its Earth-like orbit, this object is an obvious candidate
for being a left-over space probe or rocket stage.  For example, the
S-IVB stages of the five Apollo rockets (Apollo 8-12) entered into
heliocentric orbits that are similar to the orbit of object 2000
SG344.  If this objectis a man-made rocket booster, it would have a
higher reflectivity than a natural asteroid and hence it would have
to be smaller (about 15 meters)to reflect as much light as a much
darker asteroid.  While object 2000SG344 seems too bright to be an
Apollo rocket booster, the possibility of its being man-made has not
been ruled out.

While object 2000 SG344 will likely pass close to the Earth in 2030,
it should be made clear that the probability of the object missing
the Earth is at least 500 to 1.  If the ongoing studies determine
that this object is likely to be a relatively small man-made booster
then such a lightweight object would pose no hazard.  It is
interesting to note the chance of object 2000 SG344 striking the
Earth in 2030 is actually less than the chance of an undiscovered
object of the same size striking the Earth in any given year.  Thus
object 2000 SG344 is more interesting than threatening but the
international efforts to characterize the nature and future motion of
this object will continue.

Added note:  The International Astronomical Union (IAU)was closely
involved in the verification of the orbit predictions.  The IAU has
noted that this is the first time the new IAU procedures for
technical review have resulted in the verification of a significant
impact risk (Torino scale hazard index 1).  The IAU system worked
very well an stands as an example of international collaboration.
The IAU statement concerning the technical review of the orbital
calculations is posted on the IAU webpage
(http://www.iau.org/sg344.html).

Web page addresses for:

Torino Scale:     http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/torino/index.html

NASA Near-Earth Object web site at JPL:     http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov

NEODyS web site at University of Pisa:
        http://newton.dm.unipi.it/cgi-bin/neodys/neoibo?objects:2000SG344;main

NASA/Ames NEO Impact Hazard page:  http://impact.arc.nasa.gov


Contacts:
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
       Steve Chesley
       Paul Chodas
       Don Yeomans, Manager

Chair, International Astronomical Union Working Group for Near-Earth Objects
       David Morrison, NASA/Ames

University of Pisa, Italy
      Andrea Milani

University of Helsinki
      Karri Muinonen

Italian Space Research Center
      Giovanni Valsecchi

Torino Scale
       Richard Binzel, MIT

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NEO News is an informal compilation of news and opinion dealing with
Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and their impacts with the Earth.  These
opinions are the responsibility of the individual authors and do not
represent the positions of NASA, the International Astronomical
Union, or any other organization.  If you wish to subscribe (or
unsubscribe) contact dmorrison@arc.nasa.gov.  For additional
information, please see the website: http://impact.arc.nasa.gov.  If
anyone wishes to copy or redistribute these notes fully or in part,
please include this disclaimer.

 



CCCMENU CCC for 2000

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