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              U.S. Senator Susan Collins today introduced an amendment to the pending energy legislation that would authorize $10 million per year for the next six years for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with universities across the nation, to conduct research on abrupt climate change. Senator Collins’ amendment is cosponsored by Senators Olympia J. Snowe, Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Patty Murray (D-WA).               In a speech to the U.S. Senate, Senator Collins explained that while the Senate has not yet reached a consensus on how best to respond to climate change, most agree that a great deal more scientific research is necessary in order to better understand the potential risk of abrupt climate change.               “Understanding and predicting climate change are enormous scientific challenges. The challenges are made even more difficult with the recognition that the climate system is capable of dramatic and abrupt changes. Scientists have determined that past global temperatures have swung as much as 20 degrees F within a decade, accompanied by drought in some places and catastrophic floods in other places,” said Senator Collins.  She further explained that in the last 30 years, the Arctic has lost sea-ice cover over an area 10 times as large as the State of Maine and that the ice that remains is as much as 40 percent thinner than it was just a few decades ago.               Senator Collins commended the work of the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute for its world renowned research programs.               In her efforts to learn more about the affects of global warming on the earth’s climate, Senator Collins traveled last year to the South Pole where she met with climate scientists to include the University of Maine’s Professor George Denton. She also traveled to Ny-Alesund, the northernmost community in the world, which serves as a key research area for the study of climate change.                          Similar amendments were approved by the Senate as part of energy legislation in 2001 and 2003. Senator Collins said that she is hopeful this year that we can finally pass this important provision into law.       ####