International Polar Year


A major international science initiative was begun in March 2007 and ran until March 2009. Known as the International Polar Year, the initiative encouraged scientists to undertake an intense, coordinated period of interdisciplinary research. The goal: to compile a comprehensive picture of the earth's polar regions at this time.

The polar regions, although remote, have profound significance for the Earth's climate and its oceans. Conditions at the North and South Poles interact with the oceans, atmosphere, and land masses. In turn, these influence environment, ecosystems, and human society the world over.

The first International Polar Year was declared in 1882-1883. Along with subsequent international science initiatives, it produced fundamental changes in our understanding of global processes.

The most recent initiative - the International Geophysical Year of 1957-1958 " involved 80,000 scientists from 67 countries. Today's new technologies will further expand scientists" reach into the inhospitable polar regions. Earth observation satellites, computers, remotely operated vehicles and many new scientific techniques can all help deepen our understanding.

Measuring the earth systems of the polar regions is more important now than ever. The poles are highly sensitive to climate change, which appears to be accelerating globally. This raises concerns for the future of polar ecosystems and Arctic societies. Additional goals of the IPY including educating the public about polar regions, and involving a new generation of earth scientists in this important work.

IPY activities and goals are presented through these and other websites.

To visit the W2O's International Polar Year Online Event Site, click here.

To read the World Ocean Observer: International Polar Year 2007 Will Mark a Major Leap in Our Understanding and Appreciation of Polar Ecosystems by Tundi Agardy, PhD., click here.

Regional and National Sites

Additional Resources

History of International Polar Years