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Antarctic Climate Researchers Hold Distant Inaugural Celebration

By Juliet Eilperin
In what may well be the furthest-flung celebration of Barack Obama's inauguration, scientists aboard the U.S. research vessel Laurence M Gould held a commemoration 10,000 miles from Washington D.C. off Antarctica.

The researchers, who are spending three days at sea examining signs of climate change, decided to call the temporary study area they have established "Ocean Station Obama."

Doug Martinson, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the cruise's chief scientist, said they named the station after the 44th president and his incoming administration "to recognize their vital interest in the problem of climate change."

"The setting of our study, in an area of rapidly changing climate and ecology, is an appropriate spot and moment in our history to dedicate this sampling station to the events taking place in Washington," Martinson said in a statement. "In doing so, we hope to bring ocean sciences and climate change research to the public's attention."

The three-day cruise is a part of a seven-week oceanographic expedition known as the Palmer, Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research Project (PAL-LTER), which has surveyed a section of the western Antarctic Peninsula each year since 1993.

The peninsula has warmed nearly 11 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, leaving the area with 90 fewer days of sea ice cover compared to 1978. The warming has particularly hurt an Adelie penguin colony near Palmer Station, which has declined by 80 percent since 1975.

Posted at 3:17 PM ET on Jan 20, 2009  | Category:  Climate Change
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I'd bet that most of the people watching today in person wished it had been 11 degrees warmer in D.C. ; )

Posted by: JakeD | January 20, 2009 3:21 PM

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