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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 A VISION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 U.S. National Committee for the International Polar Year 2007-2008 Polar Research Board Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided with institutional funds from the National Academies. International Standard Book Number 0-309-09212-4 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-53203-5 (PDF) Cover image: Glacier edge. © 1995. PhotoDisc Inc. All rights reserved. Images © 1995 Tony Ise. Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 U.S. NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 MARY ALBERT (Chair), Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire ROBERT BINDSCHADLER, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Greenbelt, Maryland CECILIA BITZ, University of Washington, Seattle JERRY BOWEN, CBS News, Los Angeles, California DAVID BROMWICH, The Ohio State University, Columbus RICHARD GLENN, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Barrow, Alaska JACQUELINE GREBMEIER, University of Tennessee, Knoxville JOHN KELLEY, University of Alaska, Fairbanks IGOR KRUPNIK, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. LOUIS LANZEROTTI, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, New Jersey PETER SCHLOSSER, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York PHILIP M. SMITH, McGeary & Smith, Santa Fe, New Mexico GEORGE SOMERO, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California CRISTINA TAKACS-VESBACH, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque GUNTER WELLER, University of Alaska, Fairbanks DOUGLAS WIENS, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri Ex-Officio Members MAHLON C. KENNICUTT II, Texas A&M University, College Station ROBIN BELL, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York PATRICK WEBBER, Michigan State University, East Lansing TERRY WILSON, The Ohio State University, Columbus NRC Staff SHELDON DROBOT, Study Director, Polar Research Board CHRIS ELFRING, Director, Polar Research Board KRISTEN AVERYT, Christine Mirzayan Intern, Polar Research Board SARAH CAPOTE, Project Assistant, Ocean Studies Board RACHAEL SHIFLETT, Senior Project Assistant, Polar Research Board
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 POLAR RESEARCH BOARD ROBIN BELL (Chair), Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York MARY ALBERT, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire AKHIL DATTA-GUPTA, Texas A&M University, College Station GEORGE DENTON, University of Maine, Orono RICHARD GLENN, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Barrow, Alaska JACQUELINE GREBMEIER, University of Tennessee, Knoxville HENRY P. HUNTINGTON, Huntington Consulting, Eagle River, Alaska DAVID KARL, University of Hawaii, Honolulu MAHLON C. KENNICUTT II, Texas A&M University, College Station (ex officio) AMANDA LYNCH, University of Colorado, Boulder W. BERRY LYONS, Byrd Polar Research Center, Columbus, Ohio ROBIE MACDONALD, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, Institute of Ocean Sciences, British Columbia MILES MCPHEE, McPhee Research Company, Naches, Washington CAROLE L. SEYFRIT, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia JOHN WALSH, University of Alaska, Fairbanks PATRICK WEBBER, Michigan State University, East Lansing (ex officio) TERRY WILSON, The Ohio State University, Columbus (ex officio) WARREN ZAPOL, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director SHELDON DROBOT, Program Officer RACHAEL SHIFLETT, Senior Project Assistant
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 Preface The research ideas jointly voiced by many scientists from many nations for the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 hold potential discoveries that are significant to all inhabitants of this planet. The large-scale environmental changes currently observed in the polar regions are significant, accelerating, and globally connected. They are unlike any in recorded history, yet we do not know how or why they are occurring. Polar regions hold unique information on Earth’s past climate history, for both the recent and the distant past. They play key roles in many of Earth’s linked systems, from the center of the Earth to the center of the Sun. Exploration of little-known realms and processes facilitates discoveries on unanswered questions that span all disciplines. The IPY 2007-2008 follows a tradition of international endeavors. More than a century ago, in 1882-1883, scientists around the world united in an ambitious effort to explore and conduct scientific research in the polar regions. This effort set a precedent for international science cooperation: we can achieve more, at greater efficiency, if we work together. Fifty years later, a second IPY in 1932-1933 led to major scientific advances. In 1957-1958 the science community coalesced around the most ambitious effort to date: the International Geophysical Year (IGY), where 67 participating nations left an amazing legacy of discoveries and technological accomplishments that still affect our lives today. Nearly fifty years have passed since the IGY and once again scientists around the world are eager to organize an international science campaign that expands the boundaries of our understanding of the polar regions and their key roles in the Earth’s linked systems. This effort is focused on the polar regions because environmental changes currently observed there are significant, accelerating, and globally connected; the polar regions hold unique information on Earth’s past climate history; they are growing in economic and geopolitical importance; the harsh conditions and remoteness have hampered scientific exploration in comparison with the midlatitudes and tropics; and the polar regions are a unique vantage point for many terrestrial and solar studies.
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 Planning for IPY 2007-2008 has evolved in a bottom-up fashion, with scientists in many different countries coming together to create a vision for what the next IPY might accomplish. The committee owes its thanks to many scientists in a number of countries, including the United States, who led the informal discussions that catalyzed IPY planning. The effort moved from brainstorming to official endorsement by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the World Meteorological Organization, and numerous other organizations in barely a year so that now, in the spring of 2004, nations around the globe are making concrete plans to participate. In the United States, planning has evolved quickly. In the winter of 2002 the Polar Research Board (PRB) of the National Academies held a one-day workshop on the IPY that involved both U.S. and international scientists. The chair of the PRB, Dr. Robin Bell, began working closely with the director of the British Antarctic Survey, Dr. Christopher Rapley, to set in motion a chain of discussions that gathered ever-growing scientific support. Under their leadership, the ICSU established an IPY Planning Group in the fall of 2003. This group created a preliminary report to ICSU that led to official endorsement of the IPY and set in motion the formation of national committees devoted to IPY planning in countries around the world. To coordinate the U.S. scientific community’s efforts in identifying potential contributions to IPY and to provide a means for interaction with the ICSU IPY Planning Group, the PRB formed the U.S. National Committee for the International Polar Year in the summer of 2003. Everyone on this committee has generously volunteered their time to attend planning meetings, give presentations at professional meetings, compile information from the community, and write this report. Committee members have nurtured discussions with federal departments and agencies conducting or sponsoring research, recognizing that the success of the IPY will hinge on productive dialogue between national and international research communities and organizations. This bottom-up approach has resulted in a broad base of support both within the scientific communities and in the agencies for the next IPY. The committee’s website at http://us-ipy.org is updated regularly to announce upcoming events and to make opportunities for input readily available. This report reflects a vision for U.S. participation in the IPY 2007-2008. It articulates a framework for the science ideas submitted by many individuals and research communities in the United States for the next IPY. These ideas are not being fully addressed by current research programs. Our intent is not to replace currently funded research but rather to lay the foundations to elevate future discoveries to a new level. The outcomes from research foundations laid in 2007-2008 hold the potential to guide important decisions for society in the twenty-first century. The committee wrote this report to convey the members’ thinking to decision makers and the public, so that they can become engaged and excited about the possibilities. In addition it is hoped that many people—teachers, scout leaders, museum directors, filmmakers, journalists, parents, and students—will start to think about how they might become involved. The committee envisions that IPY 2007-2008 will initiate a new era in polar science by establishing the ongoing intellectual commitment, international research programs, and observation systems needed to fully understand the polar regions and their key roles in the global system. I thank PRB Director Chris Elfring for initiating this study and the National Academies for supplying funding. Study Director Sheldon Drobot provided tireless support and enthusiasm; intern Kirsten Averyt inspired us to speak to the next genera-
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 tion; and staff members Ann Carlisle, Jodi Bachim, and Rachael Shiflett provided excellent assistance. Again, I express my deep appreciation to the scientists on the committee who are giving their time and energy to plan this important activity. I look forward to increasing interaction with my international colleagues, as the ideas submitted within our nations are shared among nations and mechanisms are established to move us from planning to implementation. I believe we will leave behind a legacy of accomplishments worthy of the traditions set by previous IPYs and the IGY. Mary Albert, Chair U.S. National Committee for the International Polar Year 2007-2008
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University Sridhar Anandakrishnan, Pennsylvania State University Frank Carsey, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory Bert Boyer, University of Alaska-Fairbanks Lou Codispoti, University of Maryland Robert Corell, American Meteorological Society and Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Vladimir Papitashvili, University of Michigan Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Deborah Meese, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. Appointed by the National Research Council, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. The committee extends a special acknowledgment to Patricia McAdams for inter-viewing polar scientists and bringing their stories to life. Ms. McAdams also provided much of the text for the sidebars in this report.
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 WHY AN INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR IN 2007-2008 9 Nations Working Together Can Accomplish What No One Nation Can Do Alone, 11 Purpose and Framework of This Report, 15 2 SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 18 Assessing Large-Scale Environmental Change in the Polar Regions, 18 Scientific Exploration of the Polar Regions, 19 Observing the Polar Regions, 19 Understanding Human-Environment Dynamics, 19 Creating New Connections between Science and the Public, 20 3 UNDERSTANDING CHANGE IN THE POLAR REGIONS 22 Human-Environment Dynamics, 22 Changes in the Polar Regions in Recent Times, 26 Lessons from Past Change, 34 4 EXPLORING SCIENTIFIC FRONTIERS 41 Exploring Life in the Polar Regions, 41 Exploring New Regions, 46
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A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007–2008 5 TECHNOLOGY TO ENABLE INNOVATIVE OBSERVATIONS 54 Observing the Polar Regions during IPY 2007-2008, 54 Assembling Long-Term Multidisciplinary Polar Observing Systems, 59 Innovative Data Analysis Technology, 62 Data Archiving and Dissemination, 63 6 INCREASING PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING AND PARTICIPATION IN POLAR SCIENCE THROUGH THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 65 Hands-On Participation in the IPY, 67 Global Participation in the IPY, 68 Creative Media Approaches, 70 7 ACTIONS NEEDED TO MAKE THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR SUCCEED 73 Recommendations, 74 REFERENCES 80 APPENDIXES A INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS IN IPY 2007-2008 85 B BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS 88 C ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS 95