located IN TALLAHASSEE, in the southern part of the state, Florida State University (FSU) has been involved in global warming and climate change research since the early 1960s. In conjunction with the geological sciences division of FSU, the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation established the Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility (AMGRF) to serve as a curatorial and research center. The AMGRF was originally planned as a resource for analyzing deposits from the Antarctic continental shelf that had been collected by U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers as part of early deep freeze expeditions under the auspices of the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office.
Today, the AMGRF is home to one of the largest collections of marine sediment cores in the entire world, and is the only American repository for Antarctic marine sediments, containing more than 12.4 mi. (20,000 m.) of deep-sea core sediment and more than 5,000 kg. of dredge, trawl, and grab samples.
Additionally, AMGRF provides access to approximately 1.7 mi. (3,000 m.) of rotary-cored geological material obtained by Antarctic drilling programs. Ongoing projects include the Cape Roberts Project, a cooperative study of paleoenvironmental changes in the Antarctic involving the United States, Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; Shaldril, a consortium of American scientists engaged in ship-based diamond coring along the continental margin of Antarctica; and Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL), a multi-national drilling project composed of scientists from the United States, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom that seeks to obtain stratigraphic records of historical paleoenvironmen-tal changes in Antarctica.
In spring 2007, scientists at AMGRF hosted a multinational workshop to tell key researchers about mounting evidence on the connection between changes to Antarctic ice and global warming. Attendees at the conference included scientists involved in ANDRILL who were responsible for removing the core, and scientists, students, drillers, and edu-catiors from the United States, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand. During the event, scientists were able to study a new core that had been obtained by drilling 4,214 ft. (1,284 m.) below the sea floor located beneath the Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, which is the largest floating ice body anywhere in the world. The new core contained sediments dating as far back as 10 million years, offering evidence that the shelf had been engaged in an advancing and retreating cycle for the past 5 million years in response to climate changes. The Ross Ice Shelf is believed to have broken off from the larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is predicted will collapse totally as a result of global warming. If such an event occurs, sea levels could rise as much as 20 ft. (6 m.), creating a worldwide catastrophe.
FSU is home to the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), which conducts research into agricultural forecasting, air-sea interaction, ocean and coupled air-sea modeling, climate change and prediction, climate variability, and statistical studies. COAPS is also involved in predicting the social and economic consequences that arise from variations in ocean-atmospheric conditions. Funding for the COAPS program comes from a number of national government agencies, and working grants, annually total approximately $3 million. COAPS researchers are engaged in cooperative efforts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Applied Research Center, the Research Vessel Data Center, the SAMOS Initiative, the Florida Climate Center, the Southeast Climate Consortium, and the HYCOM Consortium.
A number of studies that are underway at FSU have great potential for identifying the effects and consequences of global warming and climate change. Since 2006, researchers at Florida State University have been involved with the NOAA cooperative, created to study the dynamics of ecosystems within the Gulf of Mexico. Through the auspices of the newly-established Northern Gulf Institute, FSU scientists are working with those from Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and the Alabama Dauphin Island Sea Lab to conduct research on coastal hazards, climate change, water quality, ecosystem management, coastal wetlands, and pollution.
Also in 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded a five-year, $6.2 million grant to FSU scientists at COAPS to develop a hurricane-prediction model that has the potential to mitigate the effects of major storms on lives and property. This prediction tool may be critical in light of the mounting evidence that climate change has caused Atlantic tropical cyclones to gain in power in recent years.
Along with scientists from the University of Minnesota, Syracuse University, the University of Maine, and the U.S. Geologic Survey, FSU scientists are engaged in a National Science Foundation study of the carbon balance in the peat lands of Lake Agazzi, Minnesota to determine the effects of climate change precipitated by global warming. Because these peat lands, which are large wastelands composed of unde-composed organic matter, have remained largely untouched, the study is expected to render valuable information on the ways in which global warming impacts the environment.
Studies of the greenhouse gases that are being emitted from melting permafrost in North Siberia have led a FSU scientist working with researchers from several other universities to determine that climate change is occurring more rapidly than previ ously predicted. In the study, published in the September 7, 2006, issue of Nature, they assert that this methane, which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, is releasing carbon that has been buried for 4,000 years into the atmosphere as a result of global warming. This methane is further accelerating the pace of global warming.
SEE ALSo: Antarctic Ice Sheets; Florida; Florida International University; Hurricanes and Typhoons; Oceanic Changes.
BIBLIoGRAPHY. Florida State University, www.fsu.edu (cited November 2007); "Global Warming and Antarctic Ice Is Focus of Multinational Workshop," Space Daily (April 26, 2007; Paul McCaffrey, ed., Global Climate Change (H.W. Wilson, 2006); K.M. Walter, et al., "Methane Bubbling from Siberian Thaw Lakes as a Positive Feedback to Climate Warming," Nature (September 7, 2006).
Elizabeth R. Purdy Independent Scholar
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