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NOAA Ship SurveyorOctober 19, 2000 — The "United States and Russia Joint Sea Ice Atlas" was announced during a meeting of the Arctic Council in Barrow, Alaska. This release was coincident with the release of the Atlas for Meteorology, also developed through a joint Russian and United States activity.

"The creation of this data in a digital format is significant because it enables both the scientific and operational community the ability to assess sea ice and its importance to global climate change, safety of navigation and asset management for mission planning," said Commander Zdenka Willis, USN, director of the National Ice Center in Suitland, Md.

This atlas has been developed under the auspices of the Environmental Working Group of the U.S.-Russian Bi-national Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. The EWG was initiated under the U.S.-Russian Bi-national Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation as part of a strong commitment in Russia and the United States to find ways of combining the separate scientific strengths and environmental data resources which had been previously restricted.

During the development of this atlas the EWG was chaired by D. James Baker, NOAA administrator and V. I. Danilov-Danilyan, former chairman, State Committee of the Russian Federation for Environmental Protection. Vice Adm. Paul Gaffney made significant contributions to the EWG project while serving as the commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and the chief of Naval Research. Gaffney is currently the president of the National Defense University.

The atlas was constructed by a team of Russian and American scientists working together. Contributors to the atlas include the U.S. National Ice Center (a unique interagency supported by the U.S. Navy, NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard), the U.S. Navy Arctic Submarine Laboratory, the University of Washington, which is the lead organization for archiving the International Arctic Buoy Program, and the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg. The sea ice atlas is based on individual observations collected over the period 1950-1994 from U.S. and Russian satellite data, ice stations, icebreakers and airborne ice surveys. Additionally, the U.S. Navy provided a very important contribution by declassifying submarine Upward Looking Sonar data specifically for this project. U.S. submarines operating in the Arctic over the period from 1977 to 1993 collected the historical ULS data as well as previously classified ice climatology.

The atlas is available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Campus Box 449, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309. NSIDC also distributes other volumes in the series. For a complete description of the atlases, see the Web site or contact the NSIDC User Services Office at

Atlas Contributors:
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
U.S. National Ice Center
International Arctic Buoy Program

Relevant Web Site
NOAA's Arctic Theme Page

Media Contacts:
Patricia Viets, NOAA Satellite Service, (301) 457-5005 or Selina Nauman, NOAA, (301) 457-5313, ext. 311