With a scientific focus on advancing understanding of the polar regions in a time of rapid planetary change, IPY 2007-2008 was the right initiative at the right time. Dramatic environmental changes were occurring in polar regions, and the research community was ready with the tools and the expertise to investigate these changes in sophisticated new ways.
The success of IPY can be attributed to its timeliness in addressing the key roles of the polar regions in the Earth system; its international reach, making it possible to exploit initiative and capabilities worldwide; its unprecedented breadth of interdisciplinary involvement, from glaciology and geophysics to ecology, human health, social sciences, and the humanities; its multilayered organization and planning; and its engagement of new constituencies in the science process—educators, early career scientists, polar residents, and the general public. The committee concludes that the Vision for the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (NRC, 2004) was realized (Box 1.2 and Box 6.1).
Once established as a concept and plan, IPY developed through the grassroots efforts of researchers, local observers, educators, students, and support personnel from more than 60 nations, including 37 national IPY committees (Krupnik et al., 2011). Contemporary change and compelling science enabled scientists from many disciplines to envision their involvement in IPY (Albert, 2004). An estimated 50,000 researchers, local observers, educators, students, and support personnel were involved in the 228 international IPY projects and in numerous related national efforts (Krupnik et al., 2011). In addition to collaborating internationally, individual scientists and nations were able to focus on their priority issues through their national peer-review funding processes, which also ensured cutting-edge science.
It is significant that IPY was championed early on by two important international organizations, the nongovernmental International Council for Science (ICSU) and the governmental World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Their support served as an international and cross-disciplinary endorsement.
The committee also notes that the U.S. polar research community was well positioned to play a key role in IPY owing to its expertise, resources, and disciplinary breadth. A history of investments in an international focus for U.S. polar research, combined with logistical and scientific strengths, paid off during the planning and preparation for IPY. In addition, strong international professional relationships, spanning many disciplines, enabled U.S. scientists to seize opportunities and take actions to realize goals beyond the capabilities of any single nation.
Examples of successful international collaborations are numerous. Longstanding international colleagues in the ice coring community established the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences. New international partnerships, under such banners as the joint U.S.-European Union SEARCH for DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing Capabilities for Long-Term Environmental Studies) project and the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board World Climate Research Program’s Integrated Arctic Ocean
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6 Reflections W 2011). In addition to collaborating internationally, ith a scientific focus on advancing under- individual scientists and nations were able to focus on standing of the polar regions in a time of their priority issues through their national peer-review rapid planetary change, IPY 2007-2008 funding processes, which also ensured cutting-edge was the right initiative at the right time. Dramatic science. environmental changes were occurring in polar regions, It is significant that IPY was championed early and the research community was ready with the tools on by two important international organizations, the and the expertise to investigate these changes in sophis- nongovernmental International Council for Science ticated new ways. (ICSU) and the governmental World Meteorological The success of IPY can be attributed to its timeli- Organization (WMO). Their support served as an ness in addressing the key roles of the polar regions international and cross-disciplinary endorsement. in the Earth system; its international reach, making The committee also notes that the U.S. polar it possible to exploit initiative and capabilities world- research community was well positioned to play a wide; its unprecedented breadth of interdisciplinary key role in IPY owing to its expertise, resources, and involvement, from glaciology and geophysics to ecol- disciplinary breadth. A history of investments in an ogy, human health, social sciences, and the humanities; international focus for U.S. polar research, combined its multilayered organization and planning; and its with logistical and scientific strengths, paid off dur- engagement of new constituencies in the science pro- ing the planning and preparation for IPY. In addition, cess—educators, early career scientists, polar residents, strong international professional relationships, span- and the general public. The committee concludes that ning many disciplines, enabled U.S. scientists to seize the Vision for the International Polar Year 2007-2008 opportunities and take actions to realize goals beyond (NRC, 2004) was realized (Box 1.2 and Box 6.1). the capabilities of any single nation. Once established as a concept and plan, IPY devel- Examples of successful international collabora- oped through the grassroots efforts of researchers, local tions are numerous. Longstanding international col- observers, educators, students, and support personnel leagues in the ice coring community established the from more than 60 nations, including 37 national IPY International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences. New committees (Krupnik et al., 2011). Contemporary international partnerships, under such banners as the change and compelling science enabled scientists from joint U.S.-European Union SEARCH for DAMO- many disciplines to envision their involvement in IPY CLES (Developing Arctic Modeling and Observing (Albert, 2004). An estimated 50,000 researchers, local Capabilities for Long-Term Environmental Studies) observers, educators, students, and support personnel project and the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board World were involved in the 228 international IPY projects and Climate Research Program’s Integrated Arctic Ocean in numerous related national efforts (Krupnik et al., 105
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106 LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 “CHANGE”—THE IPY BOX 6.1 STRATEGIC MESSAGE Original IPY Scope and Objectives Statement from Vision for the IPY was largely about change: climate system change International Polar Year 2007-2008 due to humans, changes in understanding of the polar regions, corresponding changes in research focus, and At its most fundamental level, IPY 2007-2008 is envisioned changes in who does science, how it is done, and how it is as an intense, coordinated field campaign of polar observations, communicated. During this time, it became more widely research, and analysis that will be multidisciplinary in scope and acknowledged that humans are influencing the planet and international in participation. IPY 2007-2008 will be a framework and impetus to undertake projects that could not normally be its climate system, that some changes are occurring faster achieved by any single nation. It allows us to think beyond than anticipated, and that there is a need to take action in traditional borders—whether national borders or disciplinary response to these changes (i.e., NRC, 2011a). constraints—toward a new level of integrated, cooperative Historic and current evidence collected during IPY science. A coordinated international approach maximizes both by international teams helped to clarify the impact impact and cost-effectiveness, and the international collaborations of human activities in the polar regions. IPY studies started today will build relationships and understanding that will bring long-term benefits. Within this context, IPY will seek to yielded important findings about, for example, the galvanize new and innovative observations and research while continuing dramatic sea ice decline in the Arctic and at the same time building on and enhancing existing relevant in the Bellingshausen Sea in the Antarctic; rapid losses initiatives. IPY will serve as a mechanism to attract and develop of ice in the Greenland ice sheet, on the Antarctic a new generation of scientists and engineers with the versatility Peninsula, and in coastal areas of West Antarctica; to tackle complex global issues. In addition, IPY is clearly an op- thawing permafrost, terrestrial greening, and biome portunity to organize an exciting range of education and outreach activities designed to excite and engage the public, with a presence range changes; and the impacts of climatic warming in classrooms around the world and in the media in varied and on ocean circulation and productivity. New sampling innovative formats. also revealed evidence of pollution in remote areas of The IPY will use today’s powerful research tools to better Antarctica previously thought to be pristine. These and understand the key roles of the polar regions in global processes. other discoveries during IPY directed scientific inquiry Automatic observatories, satellite-based remote sensing, autono- to questions of societal impact, longer-term environ- mous vehicles, Internet, and genomics are just a few of the innova- tive approaches for studying previously inaccessible realms. IPY mental issues, and sustainability. 2007-2008 will be fundamentally broader than past international In terms of changes in who does science, IPY years because it will explicitly incorporate multidisciplinary and increased diversity among those involved in the study of interdisciplinary studies, including biological, ecological, and the poles. The research community expanded to include social science elements . more female lead investigators, energetic young scien- tists launched their own network with the creation of SOURCE: NRC, 2004. APECS, and Arctic residents and indigenous people’s organizations became active participants in the system- atic collection of observations. Observing System (iAOOS), set up shared observ- Methods of research changed as new tools and ing networks throughout the polar seas. The Arctic observational networks supported by new interna - Observing Network (AON) and the 24-nation Polar tional partnerships increased the ability to detect and Observing Network (POLENET) launched new ter- document the polar environment. The exploitation of restrial observational networks. Young scientists from cutting-edge technology and logistics changed under- a range of disciplines and countries exploited social standing of the polar regions by enabling the imaging networking facilities on the Internet to form the Asso- of previously inaccessible locations across a huge range ciation of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) for of spatial scales, from tiny bubbles in thousand-year- sharing knowledge and experience. IPY thus provided old ice to entire mountain ranges under ice sheets. The the impetus for a novel means of collaboration and resulting advances in knowledge of ice sheet formation action among both established and “next-generation” and flow have profound implications for the ability to polar scientists and engineers.
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107 REFLECTIONS polar research; those lessons are numerous, even as the predict their future behavior, including their critical research results from IPY continue developing. contribution to global sea level rise, which has the “International years” are very complex programs. potential to impact societies all over the world. In addi- Past such endeavors (e.g., the International Year of tion, a joint project carried out by the United States and P hysics in 2005, International Heliophysical Year United Kingdom (with support from China, Germany, d uring 2007 through 2009, International Year of Australia, Japan, and Canada, among others) revealed Astronomy in 2009, International Year of Biodiversity an alpine environment long hidden beneath the core in 2010, and International Year of Forests in 2011) of the East Antarctic ice sheet, yielding insights into have covered a wide variety of important topics. To take how the ice sheet formed. And the discovery of areas flight from enthusiasts’ dreams and drawing boards, where liquid water beneath the ice sheet freezes onto each “international year” needs energetic, well-placed its underside, providing a significant mechanism for ice and -connected individuals and teams to bring together sheet growth, was a total surprise. the multiple entities that will become the essential Evidence of change recorded by international components of the global venture. teams of IPY scientists and their local collaborators in For IPY 2007-2008, the concept of an “interna- polar communities provided vivid content for science tional year” proved to be as valid for today’s highly education and outreach. IPY science disseminated dynamic global science as it was 50, 75, and 125 years by new electronic media, special outreach programs, ago. International years give a higher level of visibility, and live communication captured the attention of the allow greater breadth of work and implementation of public. Dramatic video footage illustrating effects of infrastructure, and increase the leverage and “esprit the changing climate (e.g., Extreme Ice Survey1 and de corps” of the science community. These attributes Polar-Palooza2) raised public awareness that what hap- helped to make this IPY an exciting once-in-a-lifetime pens at the poles matters to everyone. Participation of event, not just for researchers, but also for students, U.S. teachers in field work—through programs such journalists, and members of the general public. as PolarTREC,3 involvement in the National Science The inclusiveness of the IPY planning process Teachers Association’s IPY activities, and international and implementation was a strong motivator for broad educational linkages through the IPY Programme participation and a powerful driver of the IPY success. Office—raised the bar for communication of science Science initiatives with a specific focus sometimes to the public and in schools around the world, reaching are (or appear to be) exclusive—to other disciplines, thousands of schoolchildren. In addition, new stan- to nonscientists, or to nonparticipating nations. The dards were established recognizing the responsibility e xplicitly inclusive approach adopted by the IPY of scientists to communicate to the public and local planners and coordinators unleashed the energy of stakeholders and providing “best practice” methods volunteerism, new partnerships, and cross-boundary for doing so. communication. It helped bring down barriers between The Committee has summarized a number of the science fields, between scientists and polar residents, changes in the perceptions of the polar regions and between professional researchers and science educa- of polar research that occurred during and because of tors, and between nations with and without significant IPY—see Table 6.1. previous engagement in polar research. Not all future initiatives may achieve the breadth of IPY 2007-2008, LESSONS LEARNED but those that strive to be inclusive will have a greater and longer-lasting impact. With the perspective of several years since the offi- This IPY revealed the level of effort required of cial IPY end date, this committee identified lessons that the core enthusiasts to convince and engage the com- might inform the planning and organization of future munity at large. It illustrated the importance of careful planning, inclusiveness, effective mobilization of the 1 www.extremeicesurvey.org. energy and ideas of hundreds of volunteers, and good 2 http://passporttoknowledge.com/polar-palooza. timing. It also underscored the amount of time needed 3 www.polartrec.com.
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108 LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 TABLE 6.1 Changing Perceptions of the Polar Regions and of Polar Research Before IPY During and After IPY White—sea ice, glaciers, snow-covered tundra Dark—with the open water in the Arctic as sea ice retreats, barren land revealed by melting valley glaciers, lakes on top of glaciers, northward migration of shrubs and boreal forests Frigid/cold Warming—as shown by contours of recent and projected future terrestrial and marine warming Frozen/icy Melting/thawing—as vividly seen in the glacial moulins, retreating ice-cored coasts, and structures undermined by thawing permafrost Static/slow—ice “cap,” “perma” frost, compact Dynamic/fast—old sea ice blown out of the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctic ice streams accelerating, Arctic vortex, stable fisheries icebergs calving, lobes of winter Arctic air penetrating south, advancing/replacement fisheries Pristine Contaminated—ozone hole, evidence that cold trapping results in high concentrations of organochlorides in polar bears, evidence of industrial airborne pollution in the Greenland ice sheet, Asian and North American sources of particulates in troposphere Robust, intimidating, stable, thick ice Vulnerable Inaccessible—thick sea ice hampers access to the Accessible for a fee—tourism along previously ice-clogged coasts of Greenland, the Canadian interior Archipelago, and the Antarctic Peninsula; airplane access to the North and South Poles Domain of the residents—indigenous peoples in the Collaborative networks—increased online partnership and data sharing north, scientists in the south Remote and disconnected Connected—global sea level rise from glacier melt, “warm Arctic/cold continent” leading to weather changes in highly populated temperate zones Peripheral—literally “off the map” Central—warming first and fastest, 2-3 times amplification Disciplinary, multidisciplinary Increasingly interdisciplinary—complex in terms of systems, participatory Basic research Research increasingly driven by applications Spatial and temporal distributions and variability Trends, thresholds, tipping points, global feedback, studying change while experiencing change Arctic and Antarctic as separate, opposing domains Bipolar science, growing exchange, Arctic-Antarctic connections and partnerships (“polar bears” and “penguins”) Expeditions and multiyear initiatives In situ long-term observations and monitoring by local residents Models seen as worst case Reality is worse than models (heading above IPCC’s “A1B” scenario, sea ice loss, glacier mass loss) Scientists primarily male Increasing number of female participants and leaders Established researchers Energized next generation of researchers, newly formed Association of Polar Early Career Scientists Education and outreach a duty, an add-on Education and outreach integrated with and feeding back into research Public perception of poles as remote or “cute” Public awareness of changes, interest and concern Established specialist community with tendency to International focus with many new players national focus SOURCE: Compiled by the Committee based on Committee members’ experience as researchers and educators and on interactions with the public. for preparation (4-5 years before the actual research crucial overarching IPY framework from July 2003 to and observation period), the value of timely endorse- October 2004. ment by and involvement of a broad spectrum of the In addition to funds from ICSU and WMO, the science community, and the role of respected interna- U.S. contribution was critical to early planning, with tional institutional leadership—in this case ICSU and the timely injection of $200,000 in the spring of 2003 WMO—to ensure proper governance and visibility. by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to sup- A key organizational lesson of IPY is the critical port the U.S. National IPY Committee. This support role of seed resources for planning and implementa- resulted in the National Research Council (NRC) tion. The original investment by ICSU in the IPY document, A V ision for the International Polar Year planning in early 2003 was $60,000—a fraction of a 2007-2008 (NRC, 2004), that was instrumental in percent of the total estimated funds used in IPY as a mobilizing the U.S. science community and agencies whole. That investment supported the ICSU Planning for IPY. NSF, for example, referenced the NRC report Group of 14 international members who produced the multiple times in its calls for proposals, and advised
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109 REFLECTIONS applicants that “IPY proposals are expected to help national funding from all countries for research in implement the vision developed by and articulated in 2006-2009 that totaled more than $1.2 billion for IPY the [Vision Report].”4 as a whole.7 The NRC also held an implementation workshop As might be expected with any large-scale, com- for federal agency representatives, members of the plex endeavor, some challenges and difficulties arose. NRC Polar Research Board (PRB), and members of the For example, despite valiant attempts by the IPY Data U.S. National Committee for IPY to talk about how the Committee and several coordinating workshops, the United States might address the scientific challenges development and accessibility of IPY data products articulated in the Vision Report (NRC, 2004) and how were hampered by a shortage of time and resources. to move ahead in developing a suite of coordinated As a result, this committee relied as best they could on scientific activities (NRC, 2005). international coordination and negotiation using exist- Support from NSF, National Oceanic and Atmo- ing data systems and management structures. spheric Administration (NOAA), and Cooperative More effective interagency coordination within Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and across nations, particularly in funding approval and (CIRES5) for education and outreach brainstorming logistics, would have been beneficial. Not all scientific workshops in 2004 and 2005 galvanized and organized research priorities received adequate support (anecdot- the polar community, helping them prepare for an ally, climate modeling has been mentioned as one such extensive and effective educational campaign to accom- area), in part because of inherent difficulties in coordi- pany the IPY science programs and findings. nating research from the top down, whereas decisions U.S. federal agency involvement in IPY was led by about which projects will be funded often come from NSF, which committed over $347 million6 for science a merit-based (i.e., more bottom-up) system. Delays in and education activities, including a $60 million appro- national funding processes affected abilities to coordi- priation from Congress. The National Aeronautics and nate field research and infrastructure sharing. A formal Space Administration, NOAA, and the U.S. Geologi- mechanism for interaction of representatives of fund- cal Survey also funded IPY-related programs, many of ing agencies from many nations and the international which had significant international partnerships. In community-based planning committee(s) would have addition, a plethora of smaller but innovative programs been helpful. In the end, leads of federal funding agen- arose from endowed university-based programs, muse- cies from the United States and other nations forged ums, and other nonprofit organizations; these contrib- agreements through their own initiative to enable the uted to IPY outreach and increased public engagement. success of large international programs. In 2005, additional ICSU and WMO investments The lack of continued support to coordinate IPY- of $250,000 supported the IPY Joint Committee of 20 initiated programs has made it difficult to maintain the members, who steered the science preparation, imple- full scope of valuable researcher, funding, and innova- mentation, and completion of IPY in 2005-2010. The tion networks developed and nurtured during IPY. daily tasks of managing the international IPY activi- Useful components of the larger IPY structure—such ties via the International Programme Office (IPO) in as the international IPY website, its publication data- Cambridge, UK, were supported by a UK national con- base, and educational/outreach efforts—have struggled tribution of approximately $1.5 million (again, a small to find alternative resources, and funding could have percentage of the estimated total funding for IPY as a maintained the U.S. IPY website as a more consistently whole). These modest investments leveraged additional useful resource during IPY. Overall, the sustained impact and momentum of the IPY legacy will require 4 Section IX, p. 22, of Program Solicitation NSF-06-534. 5 http://cires.colorado.edu/. 6 This estimate includes awards made over four fiscal years 2006- 7 E stimates of total IPY funding vary from approximately 2009, with more than half the money going out during the 2007- 2009 IPY field period. Many awards, though, were of several years’ $1.2 billion (not counting many national polar infrastructure duration—to accommodate laboratory work and other follow-up investments; Krupnik et al., 2011) to approximately $1.5 billion after return from the field—so final funding increments for some (Carthage Smith, International Council for Science, personal com- of the later ones will not be sent until 2013. munication, 2011).
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110 LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 achieving international discourse. At a time when the ongoing support from funding agencies for both the polar regions, in particular the Arctic, are undergoing observing networks and the scientists. a transformation from a perceived icy wilderness to a The Vision Report defined the terms for U.S. new zone for human affairs, these new insights could IPY efforts, and this follow-up report on lessons and not be more timely or relevant. legacies provides the concluding bookend for those The success of IPY was also evident in the people efforts. Several other nations (Canada, Sweden, Japan, it touched. The international polar research community the United Kingdom, Norway) invested in the pro- grew in terms of inclusiveness, capability, and experi- duction of timely assessments of their national IPY ence. Arctic residents, and particularly indigenous activities similar to this report, whereas others closed communities, learned that information from science their IPY programs without a concluding assessment and scientists can be used to inform and enrich their or statement. daily lives. For their part, scientists learned how to make The authors of this report urge planners of the next the results of their science useful for decisions faced IPY (or of similar international efforts) to consider all by citizens of both the Arctic and the midlatitudes. of the lessons identified in this report, as well as the mix Students and public audiences in numerous countries of ingredients that made IPY such a success. became engaged in learning about the current climate change that affects all people, and in the thrill and LEGACIES excitement of unraveling the mysteries of the planet and its extraordinary polar environments. IPY changed perceptions and understanding of For all these reasons, IPY was a success scientifi- the polar regions. Its findings revealed that the Earth cally, organizationally, and as a collective international system cannot be understood without knowledge of the endeavor as humanity grapples with the complexities dynamics of these regions, a message that is especially and challenges of the many changes occurring in the relevant in light of evidence of the many global impacts environment and societies around the world. May it of polar change. It also became clear during IPY that provide an inspiration for planners of the future, as sci- traditional knowledge can make a material contribution ence increasingly provides the knowledge that informs to the joint assessment of global processes and that action. science and scientists can provide effective means of