National Geographic : 1997 Feb
OCTOBER 1961 Scientists take a break from building the outpost where they would live for a year. "After one drift season we were friends for life," recalls Sergey Priamikov of AARI. "We were all in it together." Such thoughts today apply to nations. And as the Arctic CD-ROM shows, both the U.S. and Russia, in preparing for a war that might have destroyed the world, fashioned tools to help save it. "This is, after all, the record of what's happened in the Arctic Ocean in the second half of the 20th century," says Norbert Unter steiner. "Throughout the Cold War the Rus sian Arctic was strictly off-limits to scientists from the West. This data changes all that. Now we'll know, for example, if the warm water anomaly we found in 1993 was there in 1970 or 1962 or 1950. It will allow us to paint the big picture in much greater detail." Equally important, perhaps, is the princi ple behind the exchange. Everyone involved, both in the United States and Russia, believes that this kind of cooperation, when applied to the problems of global air pollution, say, or healing the acid-stressed boreal forest in Siberia, or containing nuclear and chemical wastes in the Arctic Ocean, is a source of genuine hope. "The Russians want to understand the global environmental crisis just as much as we do," says Vice President Gore. "Solving it will be excruciatingly difficult; we both know that. It's at the outer boundary of what is possible to do as a civilization. But it is within our reach." Victor Danilov-Danilian sees things from a different perspective. In his Moscow office, he sounded decidedly less upbeat. But even he brightened at the prospect of somehow turning the instruments of war into the means of envi ronmental salvation. "For us in Russia today," he said quietly, "this is one bright speck of paint on a very dark canvas." 0 For further information on the Arctic Ocean Atlas CD-ROM visit the NOAA Web site at http://ns.noaa.gov/atlas, or contact User Ser vices, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), CIRES Campus Box 449, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0449; (303) 492-6199, or e-mail NSIDC at nsidc_cd@ kryos.colorado.edu.