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1 September, 2002

Telemedicine Link / Witness Arctic / Kara Sea

News, resources, meetings, and opportunities (courses, competitions, graduate work, etc.) for the polar learning community follow.


NSF PR 02-61


In a groundbreaking telemedicine development, doctors in Massachusetts earlier this month helped a physician at Amundsen Scott South Pole Station to surgically repair the damaged knee of a meteorologist spending the winter in Antarctica.

Using a "telemedicine" connection operated by Raytheon Polar Services Co. (RPSC) of Centennial, Colo., orthopedic surgeon Bertram Zarins and anesthesiologist Vicki Modest, both of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, helped South Pole physician Dr. Timothy Pollard to suture a damaged tendon in the left knee of RPSC employee Dar Gibson in a two-hour operation July 5 (EDT). Gibson injured his knee in a fall.

RPSC is the National Science Foundation's logistical support contractor in Antarctica.

The U.S. Antarctic Program has used two-way voice and video links between the U.S. and Antarctica to assist in medical procedures, but this is the first time in the program's nearly 50- year history that telemedicine has been used for surgery. Doctors are assigned to all three U.S.-operated, year-round stations in Antarctica but the medical facilities there are not designed for surgery.

The operation's success marks a milestone in efforts to use telecommunications to improve the medical services available to those who must spend the long austral winter at one of the world's most remote scientific stations. "The health and safety of our people comes first and I'm grateful that the skills of all concerned could be combined so effectively with 21st century technology to meet this challenge," said Karl Erb, who heads NSF's Office of Polar Programs. "Our thoughts are with the patient. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery."

NSF, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, conducts leading-edge research at the pole in a variety of disciplines and is rebuilding the only scientific station there. Because of its location high on the Polar Plateau and at the Earth's axis, Amundsen-Scott is a world-class astrophysical observatory. It also has some of the world's cleanest air, making it a natural laboratory for studying environmental chemistry.

The 51 people spending the austral winter (February through November) at the station are unable to leave because extreme cold and darkness prevents aircraft landings. NSF officials judged an evacuation of Gibson as too risky to aircrews. Instead, a panel of physicians in the U.S. explored a variety of options for treating the injury using digital x-rays sent via the telemedicine link and a live video transmission of Gibson's knee examination.

After consulting with Drs. Zarins and Modest as well as other nationally recognized medical experts from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Johns Hopkins University, and other institutions and with RPSC officials, Gibson received a range of treatment options. He agreed to the surgery judged to be the best option for restoring the maximum mobility to the damaged knee.

Dr. Pollard carried out the operation at approximately 9 p.m. (EDT) July 5, with the help of physician assistant Tom Barale (who monitored the anesthesia) and other station personnel. Gibson is recovering and has begun physical therapy.


RESOURCES (Books, Web Sites, Maps, Electronic Databases, etc.)

Dear Arctic Colleagues

The Spring 2002 issue (Volume 9, Number 2) of the newsletter "Witness the Arctic" has just been published and is being mailed to more than 7900 subscribers. The newsletter is bulk mailed; it may be several weeks before you receive your copy. Future mailings can be expedited by making sure that we have an accurate address and complete 9-digit zip code. Please check the address label on your newsletter and send updated information, including a complete 9-digit zip code, to ARCUS at arcus@arcus.org.

The on-line editions of the newsletter, including this most recent issue, are available for downloading in PDF format at http://www.arcus.org/Witness_the_Arctic/index.html

If you are not currently on our mailing list and wish to subscribe to "Witness," you may subscribe online at http://www.arcus.org/Witness_the_Arctic/subscribe.html, or send an email to ARCUS with your request and complete contact information. Please submit ideas for the Autumn 2002 newsletter to ARCUS by September 2002.

"Witness the Arctic" is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Arctic Sciences Section and produced by ARCUS. Opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

Wendy K. Warnick

Executive Director


Polar Seas Oceanography: An integrated case study of the Kara Sea

Vladimir A. Volkov, Ola M. Johannessen, Victor E. Borodachev, Gennadiy N. Voinov, Lasse H. Pettersson, Leonid P. Bobylev and Alexei V. Kouraev

The Kara Sea of the Russian Arctic, with its unique oceanographic regime, is a site of major scientific and commercial importance. Global climate change, transport and spread of radionuclides and other pollutants, and the exploration and exploitation of its rich natural resources are all important issues.

Here, for the first time, is a comprehensive study of this Polar sea, based on in situ data, satellite remote sensing and numerical sea modelling. It includes the results of much previously-unpublished research carried out over the past decade, and an analysis of the results of many studies carried out during the last century.The book describes the oceanographic regime, including river discharge, study of water dynamics, the transport of pollutants and results of numerical model simulations. One issue specifically addressed is the shrinking of the sea ice because, as a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, the Kara Sea is expected to provide an early warning of the enhanced high latitude impact of global climate change processes.

List price: 104,50 Euro

Extent: 496 pages, including 12-page colour section ISBN: 3-54042-969-7

Published: May 2002

Praxis Publishing, Ltd web site: http://www.praxis-publishing.co.uk/series.htm

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