April 2007 Downloads & Links

Launch of International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008


Largest polar research programme in 50 years

International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 was launched officially in Paris on 1 March 2007. A programme established by WMO and the International Council for Science, it is the largest internationally coordinated scientific research effort in 50 years. In order to ensure full and equal coverage of both the Arctic and the Antarctic, IPY will span two full annual cycles, from March 2007 to March 2009.

polar bears

Thousands of scientists from over 60 countries and a wide range of research disciplines will carry out 220 projects under six major themes:

Status: to determine the present environmental status of the polar regions

Change: to quantify and understand past and present environmental and social change in the polar regions, and to improve projections of future change

Global linkage: to advance understanding, on all scales, of the links between and interactions of, the polar regions and the rest of the globe, and of the processes controlling these links

New frontiers: to investigate the frontiers of science in the polar regions

Vantage point: to use the unique vantage point of the polar regions and develop and enhance observatories from the interior of the Earth to the Sun and the cosmos beyond

Human dimension: to investigate the cultural, historical, and social processes that shape the sustainability of circumpolar human societies and to identify their unique contributions to global cultural diversity and citizenship.

The campaign also aims to educate and involve the public, while helping to train the next generation of engineers, scientists and leaders.

WMO will focus on creating a strong legacy of better understanding of the role of the poles in the Earth system and on more comprehensive and better sustained polar observing systems. The previous International Polar Years 1882-1983 and 1932-1933 and the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958 each led to major improvements in our understanding of the Earth system. IPY 2007-2008 will initiate a new era in polar science with a stronger emphasis on interdisciplinary research including physical, ecological and social sciences, and strong partnerships with indigenous communities and educators. (See articles reproduced from the WMO Bulletin in 1982 on the first IPY, the second IPY and the IGY.)

WMO Secretary-General Mr Michel Jarraud says: “IPY comes at a crossroads for the planet’s future; February’s first phase of the Fourth Assessment Report from IPCC has shown that these regions are highly vulnerable to rising temperatures. However, meteorological and other regular environmental in situ observation facilities at the poles are few and it is essential to install more and increase satellite coverage to gain a better overall picture of how rapidly these areas are changing, and of the global impact of these changes.”

Climate issues will be at the forefront of the majority of IPY studies. WMO contributes to climate research in the polar regions through, in particular, the Climate and Cryosphere project of the World Climate Research Programme.

To mark the launch of International Polar Year, WMO produced a video news release in English and French.
WMO also produced a film entitled “Two poles—one planet” to celebrate World Meteorological Day on 23 March 2007, whose theme “Polar meteorology: understanding global impacts”, marked IPY. The film, prepared in WMO’s six official languages, is available in Beta SP, VHS and DVD.

As reported in the February 2007 issue of MeteoWorld, WMO published a kit for World Meteorological Day, which contains a brochure, a poster and a message from the Secretary-General.

Short printable version English
MeteoWorld archive
50 years ago...
High-impact weather
Related sites
Art gallery
International Polar Year