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Senators headed to Antarctica for update on climate research

PORTLAND, Maine --U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and two of her colleagues left Tuesday on an eight-day visit to Antarctica that will provide an update on the latest research on climate change.

Collins, of Maine, and fellow Republicans John McCain of Arizona and John Sununu of New Hampshire will travel to McMurdo Station to meet with leading researchers, including staff from the University of Maine Climate Change Institute.

Collins, an advocate for climate change research, said she was invited on the trip by the National Science Foundation and the University of Maine.

While in Antarctica, she plans to view an area called Denton Hills, named for University of Maine Professor George Denton, a renowned climatologist and expert on glaciers. Denton is among those who will brief the senators.

"The University of Maine has one of the best abrupt climate change research programs in the world, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to see firsthand some of their research in both New Zealand and Antarctica," Collins said.

The trip is not the first taken by Collins and McCain to promote research on climate change and the increase in heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" accumulating in the atmosphere.

The two senators visited northern Norway nearly two years ago for a briefing by scientists involved in a multi-year assessment of the impact of climate change and increased ultraviolet radiation across the Arctic region.

European scientists reported in November that analysis of ice cores from Antarctica shows that today's level of carbon dioxide, a by-product of car engines and power plants, is 27 percent higher than any previous peak looking back 650,000 years.

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