International Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY1) was an intense, coordinated field campaign of polar observations, research, and analysis that ran from March 1, 2007, to March 9, 2009. Following the efforts of a core group of enthusiasts and agencies, and building on existing international programs and networks, IPY grew from the grassroots efforts of polar scientists around the world. With the active involvement of more than 50,000 participants from numerous science disciplines, institutions, and more than 60 nations (Krupnik et al., 2011), IPY represented the most comprehensive and sophisticated effort ever undertaken to understand the secrets of Earth’s polar domains.
IPY 2007-2008 was built on a foundation laid by the International Polar Years of 1882-1883 and 1932-1933, and the International Geophysical Year of 1957-1958 (see Box 1.1). In its day, each of these represented major internationally coordinated efforts to advance exploration of Earth and increase human understanding of the Earth system.
The planning process for the 2007-2008 IPY began with conversations and first actions around 2000-2002, initially among small groups of scientists and encouraged by organizations responsible for the coordination of polar science, such as the U.S. Polar Research Board (PRB), the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, the European Polar Board, and the International Arctic Science Committee. A modest investment by the International Council for Science (ICSU) in early 2003, followed by the endorsement by
History of International Polar Years
International Polar Year 2007-2008 was an ambitious program following in the footsteps of three similar programs over the last 125 years (also see time line in Figure 1.1). The first International Polar Year in 1882-1883 comprised 12 countries and 15 expeditions (13 in the Arctic and 2 in the Antarctic). The U.S. contribution included establishment of the longest-serving U.S. scientific station in the Arctic, at Point Barrow, Alaska.
The second International Polar Year in 1932-1933 had participation from 40 nations and led to advances in meteorology, atmospheric sciences, geomagnetism, and the “mapping” of ionospheric phenomena that advanced radioscience and technology. The United States established the first year-round research station inland from the Antarctic coast.
The International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-1958, with the participation of 67 nations, saw many “firsts,” such as the launch of the world’s first satellites. IGY had a strong polar component, especially in the Antarctic where the United States established research stations at the South Pole and McMurdo. The experience in international collaboration, even during the intense political climate of the Cold War, led to ratification of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961.
the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), drew international interest to the project and legitimized the process by which it was defined and organized. ICSU established a Planning Group of 14 members, who worked from July 2003 through October 2004 to produce an overarching IPY plan, a set of objectives, and a framework for action (Rapley and Bell, 2004).
1 Throughout this report, the terms “IPY 2007-2008” and “IPY” are used interchangeably.
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1 Introduction I nternational Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY1) was BOX 1.1 an intense, coordinated field campaign of polar History of International Polar Years observations, research, and analysis that ran from March 1, 2007, to March 9, 2009. Following the efforts International Polar Year 2007-2008 was an ambitious of a core group of enthusiasts and agencies, and build- program following in the footsteps of three similar programs ing on existing international programs and networks, over the last 125 years (also see time line in Figure 1.1). The first IPY grew from the grassroots efforts of polar scientists International Polar Year in 1882-1883 comprised 12 countries and around the world. With the active involvement of more 15 expeditions (13 in the Arctic and 2 in the Antarctic). The U.S. than 50,000 participants from numerous science disci- contribution included establishment of the longest-serving U.S. scientific station in the Arctic, at Point Barrow, Alaska. plines, institutions, and more than 60 nations (Krupnik The second International Polar Year in 1932-1933 had et al., 2011), IPY represented the most comprehensive participation from 40 nations and led to advances in meteorology, and sophisticated effort ever undertaken to understand atmospheric sciences, geomagnetism, and the “mapping” of iono- the secrets of Earth’s polar domains. spheric phenomena that advanced radioscience and technology. IPY 2007-2008 was built on a foundation laid by The United States established the first year-round research station the International Polar Years of 1882-1883 and 1932- inland from the Antarctic coast. The International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-1958, 1933, and the International Geophysical Year of 1957- with the participation of 67 nations, saw many “firsts,” such as 1958 (see Box 1.1). In its day, each of these represented the launch of the world’s first satellites. IGY had a strong polar major internationally coordinated efforts to advance component, especially in the Antarctic where the United States exploration of Earth and increase human understand- established research stations at the South Pole and McMurdo. ing of the Earth system. The experience in international collaboration, even during the The planning process for the 2007-2008 IPY intense political climate of the Cold War, led to ratification of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961. began with conversations and first actions around 2000-2002, initially among small groups of scientists and encouraged by organizations responsible for the coordination of polar science, such as the U.S. Polar Research Board (PRB), the Scientific Committee on the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), drew Antarctic Research, the European Polar Board, and international interest to the project and legitimized the the International Arctic Science Committee. A modest process by which it was defined and organized. ICSU investment by the International Council for Science established a Planning Group of 14 members, who (ICSU) in early 2003, followed by the endorsement by worked from July 2003 through October 2004 to pro- duce an overarching IPY plan, a set of objectives, and a framework for action (Rapley and Bell, 2004). 1 Throughout this report, the terms “IPY 2007-2008” and “IPY” are used interchangeably. 9
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10 LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 Additional investments by ICSU and the WMO in BOX 1.2 2005 established support for an IPY Joint Committee Recommendations from 2004 NRC of 20 members, who steered the scientific preparation, Report on A Vision for the International implementation, and completion of IPY from 2005 to Polar Year 2007-2008 2010. The daily tasks of managing the international IPY activities were coordinated by the International • The U.S. scientific community and agencies should use Programme Office (IPO) in Cambridge, UK, which the IPY to initiate a sustained effort aimed at assessing large-scale was funded by the United Kingdom and eight other environmental change and variability in the polar regions. • The U.S. scientific community and agencies should nations, and provided the means to establish and main- include studies of coupled human-natural systems critical to tain IPY networks throughout 2005-2010. Dr. David societal, economic, and strategic interests in the IPY. Carlson served as Director of the IPO. Other nations • The U.S. IPY effort should explore new scientific fron- established national IPY coordinating offices, many of tiers from the molecular to the planetary scale. which (e.g., the Canadian IPY office) made invaluable • The International Polar Year should be used as an oppor- contributions to the international coordination of IPY. tunity to design and implement multidisciplinary polar observing networks that will provide a long-term perspective. In 2003, the PRB formed the U.S. National Com- • The United States should invest in critical infrastructure mittee for the International Polar Year 2007-2008. This (both physical and human) and technology to guarantee that IPY committee conducted a study to outline the U.S. vision 2007-2008 leaves enduring benefits for the nation and for the for IPY: What questions should it address? How should residents of northern regions. it be planned? The group, chaired by Dr. Mary Albert, • The U.S. IPY program should excite and engage the pub- sought input from across the polar science community lic, with the goal of increasing understanding of the importance of polar regions in the global system and, at the same time, advance and in 2004 published an outline of the U.S. rationale general science literacy in the nation. and focus for IPY, A Vision for International Polar Year • The U.S. scientific community and agencies should (the Vision Report; NRC, 2004). The Vision Report participate as leaders in International Polar Year 2007-2008. was instrumental in defining the potential for IPY and sparking participation by the U.S. science community SOURCE: NRC, 2004. and a number of agencies. The recommendations from this report are listed in Box 1.2. The committee also worked with senior leaders in U.S. science agencies—the National Science Foun- The White House designated NSF the lead federal dation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric agency for organizing U.S. IPY activities.2 In this role Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and the NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP) interacted Space Administration (NASA), and U.S. Geological with the leadership of other U.S. agencies to promote Survey, among others—to encourage agency partici- IPY and plan collaborative activities. NSF funded or pation in the U.S. components of the IPY program. cofunded the planning and execution of a wide array of In July 2004, PRB convened a workshop to promote science and education activities in support of IPY. For discussions among the federal agencies, provide a forum example, the NSF-funded workshop on “Bridging the for their representatives to identify possible scientific Poles” in 2004 brought together scientists, educators, activities of interest, and serve as a springboard for and media specialists to define IPY goals for integrating collaborative IPY activities. Upon completion of the research, education, and outreach at the national and workshop report (NRC, 2005), U.S. National Com- international levels and to build a coherent and excit- mittee responsibilities transitioned to the PRB, at the ing public presence during IPY (Pfirman et al., 2004). time chaired by Dr. Robin Bell. Some members of the In 2005, NOAA and NSF jointly funded a workshop, U.S. National Committee also participated in the IPY “Poles Together: Coordinating International Polar Year P lanning Group (2003-2004) and Joint Committee (2005-2010). 2 NSF also supports the U.S. government IPY website: http://ipy. gov/, which contains extensive information on federally supported IPY research and activities.
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11 INTRODUCTION (IPY ) Outreach and Education” held at the University global system. In addition, as IPY was ramping up of Colorado, to develop a plan for achieving IPY goals from 2004 to 2006, many members of the public, hear- for education, outreach, and communication (CIRES ing of changes in the poles and other regions, began and NOAA, 2005). to take the issue of climate change more seriously. As an example, in 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore received the Nobel CONTEXT IN WHICH IPY TOOK PLACE Peace Prize for raising concern about climate change. Polar research scientists who saw the potential in This increase in awareness of climate change was not organizing another “international year” at a time of sustained, however. Around 2006, public opinion began great planetary change were likely the biggest driver to shift and concern about global warming waned. In behind IPY. They realized that as global temperatures the next several years, more than 40 percent of the have risen (Figure 1.1), the poles are changing first and American public grew to feel that the seriousness of fastest and there was the need for a major campaign global warming was exaggerated (Figure 1.2). Also to increase the capacity to assess and understand the during this period before IPY, the U.S. government changes (Albert, 2004). signed but did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. IPY thus The authors of the Arctic Climate Impacts Assess- came at a time in the United States of growing political ment: Scientific Report (ACIA, 2005) also laid out a tension regarding climate change. multifaceted perspective, projecting changes in every sector from sea ice and glaciers to reindeer foraging. WHAT DID IPY ACCOMPLISH? The projected summer opening of the Arctic Ocean raised awareness of increased access to resources and IPY took place at a crucial time for polar and global potential economic and boundary disputes. The science climate change and helped to deliver the message that community knew, too, that technology had changed what happens at the poles affects all life on Earth. dramatically in the 50 years since the IGY and offered Many activities involved international contributors, and rich opportunities such as satellite and airborne remote many emphasized societal implications, a new focus sensing and genetic sequencing (Carlson, 2011). that included educational facets and ways to inform During the IPY planning stages, the greater sci- policy decisions. IPY garnered substantial support from entific community began to view the poles as both science educators and enhanced interest from the pub- a harbinger of change and a key component in the lic. From outreach activities that engaged the general 0.6 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Met Office Hadley Centre/Climatic Research Unit 0.4 NOAA National Climatic Data Center Japanese Meteorological Agency Temperature Anomaly (˚C) 0.2 0 -0.2 FIGURE 1.1 Global surface tem- perature from historical records, including dates of previous Inter- -0.4 national Polar Years (IPYs) and IPY 1882-1883 IPY 1932-1933 IGY 1957-1958 IPY 2007-2008 the International Geophysical -0.6 Year (IGY) SOURCE: Adapted 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 from NASA Earth Observatory/ Year Robert Simmon.
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12 LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 FIGURE 1.2 Shifting public opinion on global warming. Opinion polling in America suggests how people became more sure that climate scientists believed in global warming over the period 1998-2006, but more recently that level has declined for a variety of reasons, including the state of the economy, shifting media attention, and other factors (Leiserowitz et al., in press). The question asked which one of the following statements do you think is most accurate—most scientists believe that global warming is occurring, most scientists believe that global warming is not occurring, or most scientists are unsure about whether global warming is occurring or not? SOURCE: Gallup. public to collaborative studies with indigenous people geophysics, space physics) further than they had gone before. While IPY 2007-2008 retained that spirit, at and projects that brought together researchers from a fundamental level its aim was toward integrating the multiple disciplines and many nations, the legacies of poles and polar systems to the rest of a changing world. IPY are larger than its scientific results. D uring IPY a major transformation occurred in I PY planning and implementation comprised the perception of the poles—from the 20th century existing and enhanced scientific projects and programs image of them as icy, white, pristine, and uninhabited as well as new initiatives, all of which fed into each landscapes to a recognition that the poles are key, other. This analysis of U.S. IPY lessons and legacies interconnected components of the Earth system and therefore encompasses the period from 2006 to 2009 bellwethers of change, and they are thus of direct rel- because all related activities, whether ongoing or newly evance to the entire globe. Among other views shared launched, were directly or indirectly affected by the with the committee, scientific researcher Ted Scambos fact that IPY was under way. Research and education (University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data activities that began before IPY and continued during Center) offered his perceptions of the impacts of IPY: it provided a foundation of established research. They also benefited from IPY because they were integrated International Polar Year 2007-2008 represents the into research meetings and education and outreach culmination of a transition in the way humanity views activities, often with media attention. the polar regions of Earth. What was once remote and Other U.S. gains from IPY included significant inaccessible, romantic, and challenging, is now seen as an integral part of a changing planet. This change in advances in the ways U.S. science is carried out in the perception extended beyond scientists to policymakers polar regions. Scientists in the United States already and the public, and in large part is attributable to IPY. had many international connections, and the U.S. IPY The previous IPYs were about exploration, and push- program clearly benefited from and built on these ing fledging aspects of science (geography, geology, collaborations.
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13 INTRODUCTION In addition, Congress appropriated $60 million achieved through this international-year approach and s pecifically for IPY, and many existing programs the importance of IPY to polar science and beyond.3 a nd resources were placed under the umbrella of In gathering information for this report, the com- IPY. This had the national benefit of facilitating mittee held a workshop in June 2011 at which more their enhancement and leveraging funding through than 70 leading researchers, predominantly from the increased national and international collaboration and United States, were invited to share their findings coordination. Similarly, sources of private funding were from and perspectives on IPY. The committee also mobilized during IPY, in some cases independently and devised an online questionnaire, announced on various fortuitously. Such was the case with the establishment distribution lists used by polar researchers and IPY in 2009, by the Tinker Foundation and with support participants, to reach out to the polar scientists and from the Sloan Foundation for the Census of Marine educators. Several dozen responses to the question- Life, of the Martha Muse Prize for early to mid-career naire were received, which the committee considered investigators in Antarctic science (NRC, 2008). as input for this report rather than as a systematic In terms of scientific knowledge and understand- community survey. The committee sought quantita- ing, IPY revealed how dynamic the Arctic and Ant- tive data where possible for evaluating IPY projects arctic are. Although once considered slow to change, it and programs, but in many instances those data do not became clear that the poles are transforming quickly, exist, so the committee relied on its own knowledge often faster than predicted by the best models. Not- and judgment as well as its extensive information- withstanding some marked contrasts between the gathering efforts. Finally, while the committee strove Arctic and the Antarctic, the interconnectedness of to maintain balance between the Arctic and Antarctic the polar lands, oceans, ice, and human systems is evi- throughout the report, the United States has terri- dent from the data. The connections of polar systems tory and vested interests in the Arctic, and there is to the global physical and human environments are therefore a natural tendency to emphasize the Arctic increasingly obvious—for example, melting glacier ice in certain subject areas. raises sea level worldwide. Polar ecosystems may exert Based on the feedback received, the committee strong controls on global concentrations of greenhouse judges that IPY achieved its goals of new scientific gases, for example, from the release of carbon dioxide knowledge and insights. The committee members and methane from thawing permafrost and subseabed observed that, as in many other nations, U.S. IPY activ- methane hydrates. More discoveries are sure to follow ities did not always strictly hew to the ICSU-WMO as researchers continue to analyze data recorded during goals, but they nonetheless contributed significantly to the IPY time frame. priority national goals for polar science. Overall, the committee concluded that IPY expanded polar sci- ence capabilities in terms of the size and capability of THE SCOPE OF THIS REPORT the polar research community (including new research In 2010, at the request of NSF OPP, under the aus- partners from nations not previously active in polar pices of the National Research Council, the Committee research), research tools, and systems, and it inspired on Lessons and Legacies of the International Polar educators, students, polar residents, and the public at Year 2007-2008 was asked to highlight the outcomes large. of IPY from a U.S. perspective, integrate the lessons This report is structured to reflect the important from different activities, and record U.S. IPY efforts facets of IPY. Because science is never accomplished so they are available to a broad audience including without people, Chapter 2 concentrates on the human researchers, decision makers, and stakeholders. (The committee’s Statement of Task is in Appendix A.) This The committee was asked to address these high-level questions 3 report by the committee describes U.S. contributions to rather than to create a catalog of all IPY projects. The committee IPY in the context of the international breadth of IPY had to make many choices and emphasizes that the examples in this activities, with the goal of illustrating what has been report are illustrative only and that nothing is implied by omission.
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14 LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008 element in IPY. At its core, IPY was about polar information. These chapters largely focus on the suc- research, so Chapter 3 describes significant scientific cesses of IPY. The committee hopes that the final advances and discoveries during this period. Chapter chapter, with reflections on the entire IPY process 4 addresses the impact of IPY on tools used for polar and experience, will prove useful to those interested research, and Chapter 5 focuses on the all-important in extending the series of international polar years in need to translate scientific knowledge into actionable the future.