ARCTIC: Government Shutdown’s Consequences

April 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

NASA Arctic Study Could Be Put on Ice

If the U.S. budget battle between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress results in a federal government shutdown this weekend a NASA study of polar ice will probably come to a premature end for the year.

Arctic ice in Greenland. NASA photo by xxxxxxxx

Frozen canyons and glaciers in Greenland. NASA photo by Michael Studinger

NASA says all its personnel and aircraft in Greenland would have to return home to Virginia if federal funding is halted by the battle in Washington, says a ClimateWire story via the New York Times.

Even if the shutdown is shor-lived, it is unlikely the personnel and equipment could return to the Arctic before the spring ice melt begins.

NASA’s Operation IceBridge has been surveying Arctic land and sea ice with specially equipped aircraft, including a P-3B research plane. Monitoring sea ice and the snow depth on top of it helps quantify sea ice thickness and predict the heat exchange between the rctic ocean and the atmosphere.

Knowing how fast Arctic ice is melting could give government planners a handle on the effects of climate chamnnge in the Arctic, it would also signal the potential opening of the Nothwest Passage from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans via Canadian Arctic waters. (See: 4GWAR, July 1, 2010 and April 28, 2010).

If the U.S. government shuts down, this P-3B scientific surveilance aircraft would have to return to Virginia from Greenland. NASA photo by Kathryn Hansen

For a video on NASA’s Operation IceBridge, click here.

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Entry filed under: Arctic, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Washington. Tags: , , , , .

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