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Japan To Study Global Warming

August 17, 1999

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese researchers hope gigantic, solar-powered, cigar-shaped airships will be the latest tools in the fight against global warming. It just needs to figure out how to launch them.

The helium-filled craft would analyze the atmosphere for such industrial byproducts as carbon dioxide and methane and transmit the data electronically to researchers below.

``We’re talking about something the size of a battleship,″ Yasukazu Tamura, a deputy director at Japan’s Science and Technology Agency, said Tuesday.

Scientists hope it will help them measure progress achieved since leaders from 38 nations promised in 1997 to cut greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide.

The project is expected to cost $95.7 million. Researchers hope to send the approximately 330-foot behemoth as high as 12 miles in the sky by 2004.

But setting aloft anything that size is no easy task.

The ship needs to be big to withstand the strong wind and low air pressure at high altitudes, Tamura said.

And another thing _ researchers still have yet to learn how to land the airship.

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