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2003-16 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 10, 2003

Tip Sheet: Experts on Iraq’s Climate and Burning Oil Wells

Contact:

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER—Hot and arid, Iraq has a Mediterranean climate with spring and summertime temperatures that can exceed 100 degrees. Two types of winds—the southerly and southeasterly sharqi, which occur in spring and fall, and the north and northwest shamal, which occur during any season—can create severe dust storms that affect visibility for both those on the ground and in the air. Although strong rains and even flash flooding can occur during the winter, the region gets little precipitation during the warmer months.

Several Iraqi oil wells have been set on fire in recent weeks, presenting a threat to air quality. But the impact seems far less widespread than during the 1991 Gulf War, when hundreds of burning oil wells in Kuwait created an environmental disaster.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has several experts on Iraq’s climate, the environmental impact of burning oil wells, and the potential dispersion of a toxic chemical release into the atmosphere.

Iraq Experts

Heidi Cullen 303-497-8132 hcullen@ucar.edu
Specialty: Cullen focuses on the climate of Iraq and the Middle East, and its impact on society. She also studies water resource issues, archeology, and the effect of climate on past civilizations. Cullen has spent considerable time in the Middle East, and has personal experience with dust storms and other weather events of the area.
Danny McKenna 303-497-1456 danny@ucar.edu
Specialty: An atmospheric chemist, McKenna is an expert on emissions from burning oil wells and their effects on climate and the environment. He was among the first scientists to fly over burning oil wells in Kuwait after the 1991 Gulf War.
Bruce Morley 303-497-2035 bruce@ucar.edu
Specialty: An atmospheric physicist, Morley has studied the dispersal of plumes from burning oil wells. He flew over Kuwait shortly after the 1991 Gulf War, using optical radar to study the extent and direction of the plumes and their impact on the environment.
Tom Warner 303-497-8411 warner@ucar.edu
Specialty: Warner is among the world’s leading experts on the climate of Iraq and other arid regions. He oversees computer models that monitor wind conditions in Iraq and would provide useful information if a toxic substance were released into the atmosphere. Warner provided wind information to military officials trying to trace the possible movements of airborne toxins during the 1991 Gulf War to determine whether U.S. troops had been exposed to nerve gas.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages NCAR under primary sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.


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The National Center for Atmospheric Research and UCAR Office of Programs are operated by UCAR under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation and other agencies. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any of UCAR's sponsors. UCAR is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

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Last revised: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 11:05 AM