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Network tracks climate change

Ref. No. 20

DATE:     Oct. 12, 2001
SUBJECT:     Network tracks climate change

Since it is bounded by three oceans, Canada has a vital interest in the impact of changing ocean processes on weather patterns, resources, and transportation. Memorial University investigators are playing key roles in the development and implementation of a new international climate-change initiative aimed at understanding the interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere, and the implications of those interactions for global climatic change. Memorial's Dr. Richard Rivkin, Ocean Sciences Centre and Dr. Moire Wadleigh, Department of Earth Sciences, are two of the Canadian scientists working on the Canadian Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) Research Network. SOLAS is a new program within the International Geosphere- Biosphere Program (IGBP) and Canadian SOLAS is the first national program to be funded. The SOLAS Network involves 43 Canadian researchers in oceanographic and atmospheric science from nine universities and government institutions, as well as international industry partners

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) will contribute almost $9 million directly to the new research network, with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (and other federal government and private sector partners) contributing over $1.5 million in ship time and other in-kind and cash support. Memorial researchers will receive about $1.2 million over five years for their role in the network.

"This is the first time there has been such a close collaboration and cooperation between those studying the surface layer of the ocean and the lower atmosphere," said Dr. Wadleigh. The network will be asking questions about how the production and cycling of climatically-active gases, primarily carbon and sulphur containing compounds, and volatile halogenated compounds, influence various aspects of atmospheric processes and contribute to global warming and climate change.

Dr. Rivkin's group will be examining the cycling of carbon in the upper ocean, while Dr. Wadleigh's team will be examining sulphur containing compounds in the lower atmosphere. "This network is not simply a collection of investigators doing their 'own thing' side by side on a ship rather, the research which will be carried out represents a high degree of interaction in both planning as well as implementation stages. It is the only way we can hope to answer some of these complex questions," said Dr. Rivkin.

Dr. William Miller, professor of Oceanography at Dalhousie University, is the project leader for SOLAS, and a member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the IGBPs SOLAS initiative, described the research group's basic premise: "We think that quantitative knowledge of the ecological, chemical and physical processes involved in the feedback between the ocean and the atmosphere is essential for understanding and predicting the global impact of future climate change." Dr. Miller and the SOLAS research team will address these problems during major expeditions to the Pacific Subarctic and the Northwest Atlantic, where they will gather oceanic and atmospheric samples.


For further information, please contact: Deborah Inkpen, information officer (research), Memorial University, at 737-4073 or e-mail: inkpend@mun.ca.


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