Greenhouse Gas Levels Rising Over Antarctica
TOKYO A group of Japanese researchers has found that carbon dioxide levels over the Antarctica rose by over 2.6 percent from six years ago the first such detection of an increase in a "greenhouse" gas above the southern continent, group members said Tuesday.
Many scientists fear carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels and other industrial processes, may be causing global warming by trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere.
Takashi Yamanouchi, a professor at the National Institute of Polar Research, said carbon dioxide from populated continents was apparently making its way down to the atmosphere above Antartica.
"Everywhere on earth is now being polluted by carbon dioxide," Yamanouchi said. "That may be contributing to the expansion of global warming although we must check whether temperatures in the atmosphere are in fact rising,"
Antarctica, with well-preserved ice averaging 6,000 feet thick, is one of the few places where scientists can examine climate change over time because chemicals from the air have been frozen in layers of ice year after year for centuries. Air above Antarctica should be among the cleanest on earth.
To date, researchers in countries including Japan and the United States had confirmed that the density of carbon dioxide on Antactica's ground had increased but hadn't proved the same for the atmosphere, he said.
Yamanouchi's team sent a balloon with a monitoring device 9 to 19 miles into the air above Japan's research base in Antarctica in January to collect data.
It showed the atmosphere had an average 367.9 parts per million of carbon dioxide, up 9.4 ppm, or 2.6 percent, from levels in a similar survey conducted in 1998, Yamanouchi said.
About 60 Japanese scientists currently stationed at Japan's Showa Base are studying ozone holes, sea life and world climate and weather patterns. More than a dozen other countries, including the United States and Russia, have scientific teams working there.
Source: Associated Press