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2 December 2008 – ICSU / IPY / WMO - On 4 December 2008, the International Polar Year 2007-8 (IPY) will launch its seventh International Polar Day focusing on research Above the Polar Regions, including meteorology, atmospheric science, astronomy and the view of the polar regions from space. This event coincides with the start of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA).

During the week of 4 December, IPY scientists will make themselves available to discuss their research and answer questions from university students, the media, general public and school children. Activities include live events, a worldwide ‘launch a virtual weather balloon’ activity, related educational activities, and access to latest information about polar meteorological and space research and polar observations from satellites. One event will connect researchers in the Arctic and Antarctic and experts around the world with students in European classrooms and a Planetarium in Alexandria, Egypt.

A special Webpage,, has been prepared with information for Press and Educators, details of IPY weather and space projects, activity sheets, live events, profiles and contacts for researchers from many countries, images, background information, and useful links and resources. 

The Polar Day is meant to highlight the role of satellites, astronomy and the atmospheric sciences in studying and understanding the planet’s polar regions. The polar regions provide crucial cooling processes for our global climate system, and polar weather in both hemispheres has linkages to weather as far away as the tropics. The atmosphere over ice- and snow-covered surfaces has unique properties, and a remarkable sequence of reactions in the snow and ice influence the chemistry of polar air. Auroras in both hemispheres provide a glimpse of planetary-scale geomagnetic processes in the outer atmosphere. Views of polar ice and snow from satellites provide some of the most compelling evidence of planetary change.

About IPY and International Polar Days:

IPY 2007-8 is a large international and interdisciplinary coordinated research effort focused on the polar regions. It is planned and sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). An estimated 50,000 participants from more than 60 countries are involved in research as diverse as anthropology and astronomy, health and history, and genomics and glaciology. This IPY was launched in March 2007, and will continue through early 2009. During this IPY, a regular sequence of International Polar Days will raise awareness and provide information about particular and timely aspects of the polar regions. These Polar Days include press releases, contacts to experts in several languages, activities for teachers, on-line community participation, Web-conferencing events, and links to researchers in the Arctic and Antarctic. Previous Polar Days have focused on sea ice, ice sheets, changing Earth, land and life, and people. The next Polar Day, in March 2009, will focus on polar oceans. More information about International Polar Days can be found at:

IPY Celebrations:

On 25 February 2009, as the formal observational period of IPY draws to a close, the IPY Joint Committee will issue a report on the state of polar research. In conjunction with this release, IPY sponsors ICSU and WMO are pleased to announce an IPY Celebration, including a press conference, an IPY presentation, and an international photographic exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland. The “State of Polar Research” report will present an overview of the collective impact of international and interdisciplinary research that has been achieved through the IPY 2007-8, and will outline the future for polar research.

About the International Year of Astronomy 2009:

IPY 2007-8 and IYA2009 share a commitment to advance our understanding of the world around us, and engage the public in these explorations. The vision of the IYA2009 is to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the universe through the day- and nighttime sky – and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. Everyone should realize the effects of astronomy and basic sciences in their daily lives, and understand better how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society. The aim of the IYA2009 is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme ‘The Universe, Yours to Discover’. IYA2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that embody an invaluable shared resource for all nations. More information is available at:


International Polar Year Activities:

Dr Rhian Salmon, IPY IPO Education and Outreach Coordinator, +447711181509

Dr David Carlson, IPY IPO Director,, +447715371759

International Year of Astronomy 2009:

Pedro Russo, IYA2009 Coordintaor, +49 (0) 89 320 06 195

For more information and contact details, please visit the IPY ‘Above The Poles’ webpage:

For more information about the International Polar Year, please visit

WMO is the United Nations' authoritative voice on weather, climate and water
For more information please contact:
Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Communications and Public Affairs, WMO. Tel.: +41 (0)22 730 83 15; cpa[at]
Ms Gaëlle Sévenier, Press Officer, Tel. +41 (0) 22 730 8417. E-mail:; Web site:




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