During testimony before Senate Appropriations Chairman
Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) in Fairbanks, AK, today NASA
Administrator Daniel S. Goldin called Alaska the nation’s
thermostat for understanding climate change, and cited the need
for continued research into global climate change with a special
emphasis on Alaska and the Arctic region.

Goldin was one of several senior government officials testifying
at the Committee’s field hearing on global climate change. The
Administrator discussed NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, a long-
term research effort designed to study the role of natural and
human-induced changes in our global environment.

Goldin pointed out the key role Alaska plays in global climate,
and the impact of climate change on Alaska and the Arctic
regions during his testimony. “It is the general understanding
of the science community that changes in Alaska and the polar
regions are the best early indicators of global climate change,”
said Goldin. “If substantial change occurs in the climate
system, it is expected to show up first and largest in the polar

“Small changes in temperature bring large expanses of the Arctic
region closer to water’s phase, a change of state from solid to
liquid over longer periods of time,” added Goldin. “This can
have major effects on plant, animal, and human life in this
broad expanse of Earth.”

Citing the successful international arctic ozone study known as
SOLVE as an example, Goldin expressed the importance of
international cooperation in the study of our planet’s health
and he called for continuation of NASA’s long-term research into
changes in the polar ice sheets and oceans that provide the
“thermostat” for regulating planet Earth’s temperature.

“NASA will continue to lead the nation and the world through
space-based Earth Sciences research, part of the
Administration’s commitment to understanding the dynamics of our
home planet’s climate change and its impact on our economy and
society,” Goldin said.

Also testifying with the Administrator were:

  • Dr. Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation

  • Dr. Scott Gudes, Acting Undersecretary for Oceans and
    Atmosphere, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Dr. Charles Groat, Director United States Geological Survey,
    Department of Interior