Category Archives: Science
Latest in Science
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback says he stands up for what he believes. Even so, the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad against abortion threatens to politicize ‘Super Sunday’ and turn some fans and NFL coaches against him.
By Patrik Jonsson
In a historic career at the University of Florida, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow has kept his faith and his convictions confined mostly to a few square inches beneath his eyes: Every Saturday, he would write a Biblical citation on his eye black.
Now, at the very moment when his hope of becoming a pro football quarterback hangs in the balance, Tim Tebow is taking on perhaps the single most divisive topic in America – abortion – in an advertisement set to air during the single most-watched television program of the year: the Super Bowl.
For a handsome and humble young man, who has become revered throughout much of the South for his devoutness as well as his on-field skill, it is an astonishingly bold decision. In the 30-second ad against abortion, he will speak from his own experience of how his mother did not abort him despite medical advice to do so.
Abortion-rights groups are already calling for the ad’s removal, saying that the group behind the ad is “anti-woman” and “anti-equality.” Online chatter is expressing an unease about Tebow’s willingness to infuse Super Bowl Sunday – an apolitical American rite – with politics. And, perhaps most concerning for Tebow himself, pro football teams already skeptical of his ability to transition to the National Football League might see this as further reason to avoid him on draft day.
“I do stand up for what I believe,” Tebow told Sports Illustrated last summer. “And at least you can respect that.”
Raised on a farm outside Jacksonville, Fla., by the son of an evangelist preacher and a mom who home-schooled him, Tebow is an amalgam of charismatic leader, world-class athlete, and devout Christian Southern boy. His faith resonates among fans in the Deep South.
But by targeting the Super Bowl, his “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life” ad ranges far beyond the familiar confines of the conservative South. Fans and coaches in the NFL might resent him for pushing a cultural message on a day usually reserved for quarterback matchups and halftime extravaganzas.
“We’re going down a road here that is filled with potholes, moral and otherwise,” writes Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz, suggesting that the ad could lead to more advocacy ads, which Super Bowl broadcaster CBS has said it will consider.
The ad, funded by the Focus on the Family organization, is expected to tell the story of Tebow and his mother, Pam. Ill while pregnant with Tim, Pam refused suggestions to abort her son. Those who have seen the ad describe it as “uplifting.”
“I asked God for a preacher, and he gave me a quarterback,” Tebow’s dad, Bob, has famously said about the trying pregnancy.
The appropriate venue?
But various groups, including the National Organization for Women, have called for CBS to withdraw the ad. They say that both the ad’s advocacy content, as well as the group behind it are unacceptable. So far, CBS has said it intends to run the ad.
“This un-American hate doesn’t have a place in this all-American pastime,” Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, told Fox News.
Tebow has for years had to walk the line between the conviction of his faith and open proselytizing. But the ad comes at a crossroads for Tebow. Professional scouts have said Tebow’s throwing motion and skill-set are poorly suited for the NFL, and his preparations for the upcoming Senior Bowl, which offers coaches a first up-close look at college prospects, haven’t gone well so far this week.
“The anti-abortion ad that he’s in that will possibly run during the Super Bowl will likely create an uproar for him as well that some teams might not want to get involved in,” writes Mark Miller on Yahoo! Sports.
Yet it is the timing of his ad – and not necessarily the content – that could knock Tebow down a few notches among NFL fans. Indeed, a May 2009 Gallup poll found that, for the first time since the poll began in 1995, more Americans are anti-abortion than pro-abortion rights. But timing is everything.
“There are going to be about 100 million of us who won’t be happy for 30 seconds of the Super Bowl,” writes CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel. “I’m not complaining about the ad because it’s anti-abortion and I’m not. I’m complaining about the ad because it’s pro-politics. And I’m not. Not on Super Sunday.”
Riyadh ‘confident’ it has an atomic option
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project was partially financed by Saudi Arabia, with the two countries sharing nuclear technology, a senior Egyptian security official told WND.
“The Saudis are confident they have a nuclear option via Pakistan,” said the security official. “The Pakistani nukes are also Saudi nukes.”
The official said an agreement between the two countries was secretly inked seven years ago, although at the time such a pact was strongly denied by both Saudi and Pakistani officials.
Pakistan in the late 1990s became the seventh country to successfully develop and test nuclear weapons. The Pakistani arsenal is estimated at between 35 and 95 warheads, according to the U.S. Navy Center for Contemporary Conflict.
Analysts have been keeping a close eye on the rise of Islamic militants in provinces close to Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.
Saudi-Pakistan cooperation has been extensive for decades. The two are both leading Islamic countries with close military alliances. As early as 1969, the Pakistan Air Force flew the aircraft of the Royal Saudi Air Force to help fend off an invasion from South Yemen. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 15,000 Pakistani soldiers were stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the country’s oil fields.
According to recent media reports, Saudi Arabia negotiated the purchase of Pakistani ballistic missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Iraqi militants who are Iranian government slaves are intercepting sensitive video feeds from US predator drones using $26 off-the-shelf software, and the same technique leaves feeds from most military aircraft vulnerable to snooping, according to published reports.
To access the feeds, the militants have been using SkyGrabber, a publicly available program that pulls movies and music off satellites and sells for $26.
That’s one of the lessons that might be drawn from revelations that Iraqi insurgents have intercepted video feeds transmitted by US drone aircraft, using software and hardware available to virtually any technically-adept teenager in the world.
Today, general military cyber war is in its infancy, noted General C. Robert Kehler, commander of US Air Force Space Command, in an address on the subject in September.
It is about where military air power was at the beginning of the last century, said Gen. Kehler – the biplane level of development.
“So we know that this will evolve,” said Kehler, referring to the offensive and defensive sides of confrontation with bits and bytes.
By itself, the breach of the drone video stream does not appear to have been particularly threatening. Insurgents merely tapped into an unencrypted data transmission that provided them with pictures of what the drone was looking at. It was not information detailed enough to provide the insurgents with tactical intelligence. It was not something that would have allowed them to take control of the aircraft, any more than intercepting a police call on a radio scanner allows the listener to drive a police car.
The transmission was open because the Pentagon in essence has not yet bothered to encrypt it.
“This is a vulnerability that they’ve known about for decades,” says John Pike, a security analyst and president of GlobalSecurity.org.
In some ways, another type of cyber attack that occurred this week might be more threatening to US national security. The Twitter outage caused by a group calling itself the “Iranian Cyber Army” may, or may not, have been directed by the Iranian government.
But whoever was behind it, is just the sort of denial of service blow that could wreak havoc with military systems, or government services, or sectors of the economy, if properly carried out.
“Dealing with a deliberate denial of service attack designed to disrupt the on-line economy – I don’t think we’re set to deal with that,” says Pike.
This is as much a concern for the Pentagon as is the operational cyber security of weapons. It is a technique adversary nations have already used against each other, said Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy Air Force chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance earlier this year.
“This denial of service strategy was recently applied by North Korea, and Russia used it in the cyber isolation of Georgia,” said Gen. Deptula in an address to the Air Force Association.
Meanwhile, one of the lessons of the stolen drone video feed is that different systems have different vulnerabilities, and all need to be addressed to secure US military operations, according to US officials.
“Every airman is a defender. That’s the mindset you have to have,” said Gen. Kehler in his address to AFA. “When you log onto your computer, when you pick up your handheld device, when you get on your cell phone, et cetera, you are entering a combat zone and you need to behave accordingly.”
Key pieces of equipment purchased from Europe, shipped to Tehran
Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.
LONDON – British MI6 intelligence agency investigators have discovered Iran has set up a new smuggling network in Taiwan to obtain specialized equipment used for the production of nuclear weapons, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Insiders report Iran has established companies to buy the equipment on the world markets and then smuggle it into Tehran.
The purchases have involved pressure transducers, which are used to produce weapons-grade uranium, and Secret Intelligence Service officers have established that nuclear scientists from Tehran have held meetings in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to buy the units.
The equipment is stored by the companies in a high-security area on the island.
The companies are fronted by local Chinese businessmen, and MI6 officers believe some of them have worked in China‘s own nuclear industry before moving to Taiwan. The intelligence officers have also traced bank accounts held by the businessmen to banks in the Cayman Islands.
Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments around the globe with Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.
“It suggests that they are almost certainly well paid for the work on behalf of Iran,” said a senior intelligence source in London.
Iran has been trying to acquire the equipment for more than a year. But Russia and European companies refused to sell Tehran the transducers.
Now China has joined in refusing to sell such specialized technology after Beijing supported a censure motion passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last month following the revelation that Tehran was building a second uranium enrichment facility at Qom.
At the end of this month, the U.N. will be asked to impose a new round of sanctions against Iran unless it agrees to abandon its nuclear program.
A report passed on by MI6 to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna last week revealed Iran had already acquired 100 transducers from Taiwan.
Dubai Tower opens next month. But will this crowning jewel also be the city’s high watermark?
By Chris Gaylord
Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest tower, is a spire of superlatives.
Under the Sheikh, Dubai has seen a boom in record breakers, impressive firsts, and baffling spectacles. For example, the city is or will be home to the world’s first refrigerated beach, a twirling tower, the world’s largest arch-supported bridge, and artificial islands in the shape of the world map.
And Burj Dubai boasts more surprising bullet points than simply being the world’s tallest tower:
• At 2,700 feet tall, the skyscraper can be seen from 10 miles away.
• The building will sport the fastest elevators in the world, traveling at 10 meters per second (22 miles per hour). They will also be double-decker elevators, with each deck supporting up to 21 people.
• To keep out the desert heat, 10,000 tons of coolant with flow through the tower every hour.
• 230,000 cubic meters of concrete form the building’s core, enough to pave 1,180 miles of sidewalk.
• Dubai Tower will be the highlight of the worlds’ largest indoor shopping center, with space for 1,200 shops nestled among 30,000 apartments.
Plunging property prices and weak demand had already put a dampener on new schemes even before last week’s shock announcement by state-owned giant Dubai World that it wants to halt debt payments for six months.
“It’s not exactly going to improve investor confidence,” said Matthew Green, associate director at property agency CB Richard Ellis, which has reported a 55 percent year-on-year drop in downtown Dubai commercial rental rates and a 67 percent fall outside the centre.
Oil, nuclear power remain abundantly available
Editor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert, the premium online newsletter published by the current No. 1 best-selling author, WND staff writer and columnist. This week, he is including a Chapter Three excerpt from his book, “America for Sale.” Red Alert subscriptions are $99 a year or $9.95 per month for credit card users. Annual subscribers will receive a free autographed copy of “The Late Great USA,” a book about the careful deceptions of a powerful elite who want to undermine our nation’s sovereignty.
Oil remains so abundant that it is unlikely the world will ever run out, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports.
Economist Julian Simon, former professor of business administration at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, was famous for taking a contrarian position on energy resources, arguing that our perception of scarcity was not validated by the current or historical factual record of energy abundance.
In an essay titled “When Will We Run Out of Oil? Never!” Simon argued against Malthusian fears that peak oil theorists were right and sooner or later the pumps would run dry, as environmental alarmist Paul Ehrlich frequently argued.
Simon traced fears of energy resource exhaustion back to an 1865 book published in London by W. Stanley Jevons, one of the 19th century’s greatest social scientists, titled “The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal-mines.” Jevons argued that Great Britain’s industrial progress would grind to a halt because industry would soon use all available coal. Jevons further concluded that there was no chance oil would be an alternative resource able to solve the problem.
“What happened?” Simon asked.
His answer: “Because of the perceived future need for coal and because of the potential profit in meeting that need, prospectors searched out new deposits of coal, investors discovered better ways to get coal out of the earth, and transportation engineers developed cheaper ways to move the coal.”
Similarly, Simon traced the fears in the United States back to an 1885 U.S. geological survey that declared there was “little or no chance” oil would ever be found in California. In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior argued U.S. oil resources would be exhausted in 13 years. Then, when that prediction proved a false alarm, the Department of the Interior revised its estimate and declared that it was from 1951 that U.S. oil would be exhausted in 13 years.
Simon argued gloomy predictions about running out of oil, coal or any other energy resource including natural gas, were typically wrong for several reasons, including the following:
- Typically the energy resources exist on earth in quantities much larger than initially estimated;
- Advances in technology make exploration and recovery of previously difficult to develop energy resources more efficient and economically affordable;
- Improvements in productivity lead to more efficient use of energy resources over time;
- Alternative sources of energy are found, even while predominately used energy resources remain abundant.
- Previously dominant energy resources, such as coal, become less dominant as more efficient energy resources, such as oil, become more understood and utilized – a process Simon believed would continue as liquefied natural gas replaces oil applications, culminating in nuclear energy replacing many current applications of oil and natural gas.
“Simon’s energy resource analysis essentially maintains that we will be running automobiles with nuclear batteries long before we run out of oil,” Corsi wrote. “Another point consistent with Simon’s analysis is that technologies have been developed permitting the clean burning of coal, while coal resources in the United States yet remain among the most abundant on the earth. In the final analysis, nuclear power is the final inexhaustible energy resource.
“Moreover, the development of nuclear power plants to provide electricity to U.S. cities on a scale developed in nations such as France would serve the dual purpose of providing infrastructure jobs that conceivably could match the jobs created by President Eisenhower’s decision to build the interstate highway system, while providing cheap, safe and efficient energy to satisfy our municipal needs indefinitely.”
Today, the U.S. Navy runs ships around the world predominately on nuclear power, without a history of life- or environmental-threatening accidents.
Simon wrote: “Of course nuclear power can replace coal and oil entirely, which constitutes an increase in efficiency so great that it is beyond my powers to portray the entire process on a single graph based on physical units.”
Corsi noted that the one energy resource that is truly renewable and sufficiently robust to produce the energy required in the 21st century is nuclear power.
He said the example environmentalists and radical global warming alarmists typically neglect is France, a country that since the 1980s has built a network of modern nuclear power plants needed to power France’s major cities for the foreseeable future. Today, approximately 80 percent of France’s electricity is generated by 59 nuclear plants across the country that are at least a generation more advanced that the nuclear power plants operating today in the United States.
“As with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the nightmare scenarios with nuclear power are now decades old,” Corsi wrote. “The Three Mile Island accident occurred in Pennsylvania in 1979, and the Chernobyl reactor meltdown occurred in the Soviet Union in 1986. The world has experienced no similar incidents with nuclear energy since then.”
Red Alert’s author, whose books “The Obama Nation” and “Unfit for Command” have topped the New York Times best-sellers list, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972. For nearly 25 years, beginning in 1981, he worked with banks throughout the U.S. and around the world to develop financial services marketing companies to assist banks in establishing broker/dealers and insurance subsidiaries to provide financial planning products and services to their retail customers. In this career, Corsi developed three different third-party financial services marketing firms that reached gross sales levels of $1 billion in annuities and equal volume in mutual funds. In 1999, he began developing Internet-based financial marketing firms, also adapted to work in conjunction with banks.
In his 25-year financial services career, Corsi has been a noted financial services speaker and writer, publishing three books and numerous articles in professional financial services journals and magazines.
For financial guidance during difficult times, read Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert, the premium, online intelligence news source by the WND staff writer, columnist and author of the New York Times No. 1 best-seller, “The Obama Nation.“
The report comes from Judicial Watch, the Washington public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption.
The organization says it filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Justice Department records concerning incidents of theft of sensitive U.S. military equipment and technology.
The documents from the Justice Department’s National Security Division included a report titled “Significant Export Control Cases Since September 2001″ which was written by the Counter Espionage Section and lists a series of cases.
Judicial Watch said the report, labeled “For Official Use Only,” reported Iran was cited for 31 cases between Sept. 29, 2001, just after the 9/11 terror attacks, and May 16, 2008.
China was cited for 20 cases.
Among the situations that were documented:
- “U.S. v. Eugene Hsu, et al.” (9/21/01): Eugene Hsu, David Chang and Wing Chang were charged with “Conspiracy and an attempt to export military encryption units to China through Singapore.” All received guilty verdicts however Wing Chang is still listed as a fugitive.
- “U.S. v. Avassapian” (12/03): Sherzhik Avassapian was a Tehran-based broker working for the Iranian Ministry of Defense when he attempted to “solicit and inspect F-14 fighter components, military helicopters and C-130 aircraft which he intended to ship to Iran via Italy.” Avassapian pleaded guilty to issuing false statements.
- “U.S. v. Kwonhwan Park” (11/04): Kwonhwan Park was charged with “Exporting Black Hawk engine parts and other military items to China.” Pleaded guilty and sentenced to 32 months in prison.
- “U.S. v. Ghassemi, et al.” (10/06): Iranian national Jamshid Ghassemi and Aurel Fratila were charged with “Conspiracy to export munition list items &emdash; including accelerometers and gyroscopes for missiles and spacecraft &emdash; to Iran without a license.” Ghassemi and Fratila are at large in Thailand and Romania respectively. Justice is currently seeking their deportation.
Judicial Watch said last October, the Department of Justice announced that criminal charges had been issued against more than 145 defendants in the previous fiscal year.
More than 40 percent of the cases involved weaponry, ammunition or other restricted technology intended for China or Iran, Judicial Watch said.
“These documents show that Iran and China have concerted efforts to obtain U.S. military technology in violation of our laws,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“The Obama administration needs to maintain vigilance against the illegal efforts of enemies such as Iran to obtain our sensitive technologies,” he said.
His organization said items sought by Iran include missile guidance systems, Improvised Explosive Device components, military airplane parts, night vision systems and products desired by China have included rocket launch data, Space Shuttle technology, missile information, naval warship specifications and drone technology.
New York Sun
The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein‘s air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.
“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” Mr. Sada said. “I am confident they were taken over.”
Mr. Sada’s comments come just more than a month after Israel’s top general during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Moshe Yaalon, told the Sun that Saddam “transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria.”
Democrats have made the absence of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq a theme in their criticism of the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in 2003. And President Bush himself has conceded much of the point; in a televised prime-time address to Americans last month, he said, “It is true that many nations believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. But much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.”
Said Mr. Bush, “We did not find those weapons.”
The discovery of the weapons in Syria could alter the American political debate on the Iraq war. And even the accusations that they are there could step up international pressure on the government in Damascus. That government, led by Bashar Assad, is already facing a U.N. investigation over its alleged role in the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon. The Bush administration has criticized Syria for its support of terrorism and its failure to cooperate with the U.N. investigation.
The State Department recently granted visas for self-proclaimed opponents of Mr. Assad to attend a “Syrian National Council” meeting in Washington scheduled for this weekend, even though the attendees include communists, Baathists, and members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group to the exclusion of other, more mainstream groups.
Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.
“I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots,” Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.
The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including “yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel.” The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.
The flights – 56 in total, Mr. Sada said – attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.
“Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming,” Mr. Sada said. “They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.”
Mr. Sada said that the Iraqi official responsible for transferring the weapons was a cousin of Saddam Hussein named Ali Hussein al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali.” The Syrian official responsible for receiving them was a cousin of Bashar Assad who is known variously as General Abu Ali, Abu Himma, or Zulhimawe.
Short of discovering the weapons in Syria, those seeking to validate Mr. Sada’s claim independently will face difficulty. His book contains a foreword by a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, David Eberly, who was a prisoner of war in Iraq during the first Gulf War and who vouches for Mr. Sada, who once held him captive, as “an honest and honorable man.”
In his visit to the Sun yesterday, Mr. Sada was accompanied by Terry Law, the president of a Tulsa, Oklahoma based Christian humanitarian organization called World Compassion. Mr. Law said he has known Mr. Sada since 2002, lived in his house in Iraq and had Mr. Sada as a guest in his home in America. “Do I believe this man? Yes,” Mr. Law said. “It’s been solid down the line and everything checked out.”
Said Mr. Law, “This is not a publicity hound. This is a man who wants peace putting his family on the line.”
Mr. Sada acknowledged that the disclosures about transfers of weapons of mass destruction are “a very delicate issue.” He said he was afraid for his family. “I am sure the terrorists will not like it. The Saddamists will not like it,” he said.
He thanked the American troops. “They liberated the country and the nation. It is a liberation force. They did a great job,” he said. “We have been freed.”
He said he had not shared his story until now with any American officials. “I kept everything secret in my heart,” he said. But he is scheduled to meet next week in Washington with Senators Sessions and Inhofe, Republicans of, respectively, Alabama and Oklahoma. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The book also says that on the eve of the first Gulf War, Saddam was planning to use his air force to launch a chemical weapons attack on Israel.
When, during an interview with the Sun in April 2004, Vice President Cheney was asked whether he thought that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had been moved to Syria, Mr. Cheney replied only that he had seen such reports.
An article in the Fall 2005 Middle East Quarterly reports that in an appearance on Israel’s Channel 2 on December 23, 2002, Israel’s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, stated, “Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria.” The allegation was denied by the Syrian government at the time as “completely untrue,” and it attracted scant American press attention, coming as it did on the eve of the Christmas holiday.
The Syrian ruling party and Saddam Hussein had in common the ideology of Baathism, a mixture of Nazism and Marxism.
Syria is one of only eight countries that has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that obligates nations not to stockpile or use chemical weapons. Syria’s chemical warfare program, apart from any weapons that may have been received from Iraq, has long been the source of concern to America, Israel, and Lebanon. In March 2004, the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying, “Damascus has an active CW development and testing program that relies on foreign suppliers for key controlled chemicals suitable for producing CW.”
The CIA’s Iraq Survey Group acknowledged in its September 30, 2004, “Comprehensive Report,” “we cannot express a firm view on the possibility that WMD elements were relocated out of Iraq prior to the war. Reports of such actions exist, but we have not yet been able to investigate this possibility thoroughly.”
Mr. Sada is an unusual figure for an Iraqi general as he is a Christian and was not a member of the Baath Party. He now directs the Iraq operations of the Christian humanitarian organization, World Compassion.
Note: This article was originally published in 2006.
NASA downplays Antarctic snow record, blames ozone depletion, ocean dynamics
By Chelsea Schilling
Ice melt on the world’s coldest continent was the lowest in 30 years during the 2008-2009 melt season, according to new research.
The finding was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last month by Marco Tedesco, a research scientist at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, cooperatively managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; and Andrew Monaghan, National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist.
“A 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record occurred during austral summer 2008–2009 according to spaceborne microwave observations for 1980-2009,” their abstract states. “Strong positive phases of both the El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) were recorded during the months leading up to and including the 2008–2009 melt season.”
World Climate Report posted the following line graph to illustrate the Antarctic snow melt index (October-January) from 1980-2009:
The report included a list of NASA stories that highlight record high amounts of ice melting across Greenland. In recent years, NASA has written extensively on increasing snow melt and published findings by scientist Marco Tedesco.
A May 2007 NASA report declared, “In 2006, Greenland experienced more days of melting snow and at higher altitudes than average over the past 18 years, according to a new NASA-funded project using satellite observations.”
On Sept. 25, 2007, NASA reported once again that Greenland snow melt hit record highs.
NASA also reported extensive snowmelt in Antarctica in 2007 and 2008.
“On the world’s coldest continent of Antarctica, the landscape is so vast and varied that only satellites can fully capture the extent of changes in the snow melting across its valleys, mountains, glaciers and ice shelves,” NASA reported. “In a new NASA study, researchers using 20 years of data from space-based sensors have confirmed that Antarctic snow is melting farther inland from the coast over time, melting at higher altitudes than ever and increasingly melting on Antarctica’s largest ice shelf.”
NASA warns that “Antarctica contains 90 percent of Earth’s fresh water, making it the largest potential source of sea level rise.”
In March 2008, NASA reported the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula disintegrated, something it said was “an indication of warming temperatures in the region.”
But now that Tadesco and Monaghan confirm a 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record, NASA has published research from scientists who claim increasing sea ice could be due to ozone depletion, changing ocean dynamics or the flooding of sea ice.
“Since the ozone hole began developing, researchers believe the Antarctic stratosphere has cooled between 2°C and 6°C (3.6°F and 10.8°F),” NASA reports. “Such cooling changes the dynamics between the stratosphere and lower layers of the atmosphere and strengthens Antarctica’s already fierce winds.”
The fierce winds are said to produce sustained periods of freezing temperatures unlike any other place in the world.
“The new model suggests that colder, stormier, and faster winds are rushing over the waters encircling Antarctic – especially the Ross Sea, where ice growth has been the most rapid,” NASA wrote in a September report. “The winds create areas of open water near the coast – known as polynyas – that promote sea ice production.”
According to the NASA report, changes in ocean circulation may also play a role.
“If global air temperatures warm, the model indicates that the amount of rain and snowfall could increase, and surface waters could freshen,” it states. “Since fresh water is less dense and less apt to mix with the heavier, saltier, and warmer water below, the layer at the ocean’s surface could become more stratified and mix less. This, in turn, would reduce the amount of heat flowing upward, allowing surface ice to expand.”
Another possibility, according to NASA, could be that accumulating snow is pressing down on the sea ice until it’s nearly submerged.
“When that happens, waves cause ocean water to spill on top of the ice and into the snow, forming a layer that eventually freezes and becomes ‘snow ice,’” NASA reported.
World Climate Report questioned why NASA wouldn’t report specifically on Tedesco and Monaghan’s findings concerning a 30-year record low for ice melt.
“[T]his time around, nothing, nada, zippo from NASA when their ice melt go-to guy Marco Tedesco reports that Antarctica has set a record for the lack of surface ice melt (even more interestingly coming on the heels of a near-record low ice-melt year last summer),” World Climate Report states. “So, seriously, NASA, what gives? If ice melt is an important enough topic to warrant annual updates of the goings-on across Greenland, it is not important enough to elucidate the history and recent behavior across Antarctica?”