What is IPY?
International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 will be an intense, coordinated campaign of polar observations, research, and analysis that will be multidisciplinary in scope and international in participation. IPY will use today’s powerful research tools, such as high powered computers, automatic observatories, satellite-based remote sensing, autonomous vehicles, and genomics, to better understand the key roles of the polar regions in global processes. IPY 2007-2008 will be fundamentally broader than the International Polar Years held in 1882-1883 or 1932-1933 or the International Geophysical Year of 1957-1958. This IPY will explicitly incorporate multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies, including biological, ecological, and social science elements.
IPY 2007-2008 is a way to undertake projects that normally could not be achieved by any single nation. It allows us to think beyond traditional borders--whether national borders or disciplinary constraints--toward a new level of integrated, cooperative science. The international collaborations started today will build relationships and understanding that will bring long-term benefits.
In addition, IPY will serve as a mechanism to attract and develop a new generation of scientists and engineers with the versatility to tackle complex global issues. IPY is an opportunity to organize an exciting range of education and outreach activities designed to excite and engage the public, with a presence in classrooms around the world and in the media in varied and innovative formats.
IPY 2007-2008 will begin March 2007 and end March 2009, during which the USGS will highlight its work in polar-related science. This schedule will provide researchers around the world the opportunity to work in both polar regions over two summers and two winters.
The First International Polar Year (1882-1883)
The First International Polar Year was inspired by Karl Weyprecht, an officer with the Austro-Hungarian navy. Weyprecht argued that polar expeditions should be driven by scientific research instead of exploration. Although he died before commencement of the First International Polar Year, 11 countries participated in 15 Polar expeditions, fulfilling Weyprecht's dream and heralding a new age of scientific discovery. Further information on the First IPY is available from the NOAA Arctic Research Office, The University of Saskatchewan, and The Arctic Research Consortium of Austria.
The Second International Polar Year (1932-1933)
The Second International Polar Year was proposed in 1928 at an international conference of meteorological service directors. Forty nations participated in Arctic research from 1932-1933 (the 25th anniversary of the first IPY), largely in the fields of meteorology, magnetism, aurora, and radio science. However, due to the worldwide depression, the second IPY was smaller than originally envisioned. Additional information on the Second IPY is available from The University of Saskatchewan and the World Data Centre for Solar-Terrestrial Physics.
The Third International Polar Year (1957-1958)/International Geophysical Year
The Third International Polar Year (1957-1958), later renamed the International Geophysical Year, was proposed in 1952 by the International Council of Scientific Unions, following a suggestion by NAS member Lloyd Berkner. The Third IPY/IGY was based on the earlier IPYs, but included research outside of the Polar Areas. Sixty-seven nations conducted research during the Third IPY/IGY, with 12 nations maintaining 65 stations in Antarctica. More details on the Third IPY/IGY are available from another NAS site, and The University of Alaska.