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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop 1 INTRODUCTION WORKSHOP PURPOSE Planning for the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 has progressed rapidly in the last year, moving from general dispersed discussions to an organized planning process with both national and international components. Some 20-25 nations are now committed to a coordinated campaign of interdisciplinary scientific research and observations in the polar regions. At the international level, planning is being led by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with strong involvement from other groups, such as the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), and the Arctic Council. In 2003, ICSU appointed a Planning Group that proposed general concepts to guide IPY planners, and ICSU and WMO will create a new IPY Joint Committee in October 2004 to continue international coordination efforts. The ICSU Planning Group conducted outreach globally and based on this input developed the overarching vision that IPY will be an international program of coordinated research to explore the polar regions, deepen understanding of polar interactions including their role in global climate, expand our ability to detect changes, and extend this knowledge to the public and decision makers. The ICSU Planning Group further identified themes to (1) determine the present environmental status of the polar regions by quantifying their spatial and temporal variability; (2) quantify and understand past and present environmental and human change in the polar regions in order to improve predictions; (3) advance our understanding of polar-global teleconnections on all scales, and of the processes controlling these interactions; (4) investigate the unknowns at the frontiers of science in the polar regions; (5) use the unique vantage point of the polar regions to develop and enhance observatories studying the Earth's inner core, the Earth’s magnetic field, geospace, the Sun and beyond; and (6) investigate the cultural, historical, and social processes that shape the resilience and sustainability of circumpolar human societies, and identify their unique contributions to global cultural diversity and citizenship.
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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop In the United States, the National Academies’ Polar Research Board (PRB) established the U.S. National Committee for the International Polar Year to engage the science community in thinking about what IPY might accomplish. This committee conducted a number of activities to evaluate the merits of participating in IPY, identified and articulated the important scientific challenges, and developed an initial sense of how the United States might want to contribute. It published its findings in the report “A Vision for International Polar Year 2007-2008” which outlines a framework for U.S. participation in IPY, including discussions of the rationale, science challenges, technology needs, and public involvement opportunities (Box 1; NRC, 2004). This report identified five scientific challenges that could be pursued, with discussion of possible types of questions and activities for each. The five framework challenges are: Assess large-scale environmental and social change in the polar regions; Conduct scientific exploration of the polar regions; Create multidisciplinary observing networks in the polar regions; Increase understanding of human-environment dynamics; and Create new connections between science and the public. To continue making progress, the PRB organized a 2-day workshop on July 8-9, 2004, held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The goal of this 2-day workshop was for federal agency representatives, members of the PRB, and members of the U.S. National Committee for the IPY to talk about how the United States might address these challenges and move ahead in the process of developing a suite of coordinated scientific activities. The fundamental premise was that active engagement of federal agencies with polar-related responsibilities is critical to the success of IPY. This workshop provided a forum for frank discussion of how different agencies might participate and what each envisions contributing to the IPY. In essence, it was time to move from a broad framework to more specific discussions about implementation of potential activities. Box 1 An Excerpt from “A Vision for IPY 2007-2008” At its most fundamental level, IPY 2007-2008 is envisioned to be an intense, coordinated field campaign of polar observations, research, and analysis that will be multidisciplinary in scope and international in participation. IPY 2007-2008 will provide a framework and impetus 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. A coordinated international approach maximizes both impact and cost effectiveness, and the international collaborations started today will build relationships and understanding that will bring long-term benefits.
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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop Within this context, IPY will seek to galvanize new and innovative observations and research while at the same time building on and enhancing existing relevant initiatives. 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. In addition, IPY is clearly 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 through varied and innovative formats. The IPY will use today’s powerful research tools to better understand the key roles of the polar regions in global processes. Automatic observatories, satellite-based remote sensing, autonomous vehicles, Internet, and genomics are just a few of the innovative approaches for studying previously inaccessible realms. IPY 2007-2008 will be fundamentally broader than past international years because it will explicitly incorporate multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies, including biological, ecological, and social science elements. WORKSHOP CONTEXT On three occasions during the last 125 years, nations around the world united to advance scientific discovery in ways that single countries or scientists could not do alone. These multi-national scientific endeavors were called International Polar or Geophysical Years. The fundamental concept of the International Polar Year (IPY) in 1882-1883 was that geophysical phenomena could not be surveyed by one nation alone; rather, an undertaking of this magnitude would require a global effort. Twelve countries participated, and 15 expeditions to the polar regions were completed (13 to the Arctic, and 2 to the Antarctic). The U.S. contribution included establishing a scientific station at Point Barrow, the northernmost point in Alaska and the continental United States, and a field expedition to Lady Franklin Bay in Canada. Beyond the advances to science and geographical exploration, a principal legacy of the first IPY was setting a precedent for international science cooperation. The second International Polar Year in 1932-1933, even in the midst of the Great Depression, included participants from 40 nations and brought advances in meteorology, atmospheric sciences, geomagnetism, and radioscience. The U.S. contribution was the second Byrd Antarctic expedition, which established a winter-long meteorological station approximately 125 miles south of Little America Station on the Ross Ice Shelf at the southern end of Roosevelt Island. This was the first research station inland from Antarctica’s coast. The International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-1958, in which 67 nations participated, was conceived as an effort to use technology developed during World War II, such as rockets and radar, for the advancement of scientific research and human-kind. The IGY brought many “firsts,” such as the launch of the world’s first satellites. IGY also included a number of important activities in the polar regions, especially in the Antarctic where our first research stations were established. Even in the midst of the Cold War, differences were set aside and the international
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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop Antarctic Treaty was ratified in 1961 establishing Antarctica as a place for peace dedicated to the furtherance of science. Antarctica remains the only continent managed by international agreement and cooperation. This history provides a precedent of remarkable scientific collaboration among nations. WORKSHOP AND REPORT ORGANIZATION The workshop was organized around three main sessions—formal remarks from the 14 agencies in attendance, open discussion of U.S. IPY science and technology initiatives based on the NRC (2004) report3, and an open discussion of IPY implementation and next steps. The morning of the first day began with a report on IPY 2007-2008 planning activities and the history of previous IPYs/IGY, and then focused on formal keynote remarks from agency representatives (Chapter 2), which allowed the agencies to outline their key interests and goals, as well as possible ideas for IPY studies. The afternoon of the first day and the morning of the second day focused on discussing agency interest in the key recommendations from the Vision report (NRC, 2004), and included discussions of U.S. IPY science and technology initiatives (Chapter 3), as well as data accessibility/management and education/outreach (Chapter 4). The final session focused on determining “next steps” for the U.S. IPY program, including important issues for implementation and a list of key tasks to be accomplished in the next few months (Chapter 5). This workshop report is a summary of major discussion items, and according to Academy rules about workshop reports it does not contain consensus findings or recommendations. It is not a workshop transcript. The full transcript will be available for the IPY 2007-2008 historical record. A list of discussion topics is presented in the Workshop Agenda (Appendix C). 3 Hereafter, NRC (2004) will also be termed the Vision report.
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