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CReSIS Research Highlighted in Study on Global Climate Change

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, headquartered at the University of Kansas, is cited frequently in a report on global climate change just released by the National Science Foundation.

The study, titled “Solving the Puzzle: Researching the Impacts of Climate Change Around the World,” breaks the research down into six categories: ice, sky, sea, land, life and people. The work done by CReSIS is noted in the “ice” section for providing a deeper understanding of the impact of climate change on the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

According to the report, “Satellite-based radars have shown that parts of the ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctic are undergoing rapid changes. However, the cause of these rapid changes is poorly understood.”

CReSIS has developed radar techniques that image, measure thickness and map internal layers of ice sheets. Through the innovative technology developed on the KU campus, glaciologists have better tools to study current conditions and predict future behavior.

Technology developed at CReSIS has been used to map and study some of the harshest areas on Earth, including Antarctica’s Gamburstev Mountain Range, which is as large as the Alps and had been unstudied until October 2008.

The report notes how CReSIS research also will help over the coming years with the assessment of future sea-level rise through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“The work CReSIS does not only helps us understand the world of today, but it provides a window to the past and the future,” said Stuart R. Bell, dean of the KU School of Engineering. “Through the visionary leadership of Prasad Gogineni and the tireless efforts of the researchers and students at CReSIS, we have more information than we’ve ever had, and that knowledge will only continue to grow.”

The report also stated that “not only does the work have societal relevance because of the potential impacts on people living in coastal communities near sea level, but it was carried out by faculty and students involved in the center from the University of Kansas and the Haskell Indian Nations University … The lab has become a training ground not only for students but also for members of numerous American Indian tribes.”

CReSIS is a Science and Technology Center established by the National Science Foundation in 2005, with the mission of developing new technologies and computer models to measure and predict the response of sea level change to the mass balance of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Along with the citations for the work at CReSIS, the “life” section of the report noted a study by researchers in the KU Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology that showed the adverse effects of increasing carbon dioxide levels on the flowering of plants.

To read the full report, visit www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/climate/pdf/NSF_Climate_Change_Report.pdf.

Learn more about CReSIS at www.cresis.ku.edu.

Contact: Ian Cahir, School of Engineering, (785) 864-2936, iancahir@ku.edu

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