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IPY presents Sea Ice Day

On September 21st, 2007, the International Polar Year (IPY) will launch its first ‘International Polar Day’, focusing on Sea Ice. In preparation for this, a special webpage has been prepared with information for Press and Educators, details of current projects and expeditions, contact details for scientists around the world, including in the polar regions, images, background information and useful links and resources.

Many updates and announcements about Sea Ice have occurred recently, and will continue in greater number for the next several weeks. Several science centres will release annual summaries of 2007 Arctic Sea Ice in October; record low extents of Arctic Sea Ice have occurred in several recent months. More than 30 international IPY projects presently study some aspect of Sea Ice or Sea Ice ecology. These investigations include ship expeditions (some of which have failed to find ice where expected!), satellite remote sensing, ecosystem explorations, and monitoring of the health and abundance of bears and other ice-dependent marine mammals. We also anticipate new books and a major film focused on polar regions and on sea ice animals. The IPY Sea Ice day represents an opportunity to learn about these Sea Ice projects and to talk to Sea Ice experts.

The Sea Ice day will also include educational and community activities including classroom experiments and a virtual balloon launch.

About IPY and International Polar Days

The International Polar Year 2007-8 is a large international and interdisciplinary coordinated research effort focussed on the polar regions. An estimated 50,000 participants from more 60 countries are involved in research as diverse as anthropology and astronomy, health and history, and genomics and glaciology. This fourth IPY was launched in March 2007, and will continue through early 2009. During this time, a regular sequence of International Polar Days will raise awareness and provide information about particular and timely aspects of the polar regions. The Polar Days will include press releases, contacts to experts in several languages, activities for teachers, on-line community participation, and links to researchers in the Arctic and Antarctic. The first International Polar Day, on September 21st, 2007, will focus on Sea Ice.

About Sea Ice

Sea ice, the thin layer of ice that covers most of the Arctic Ocean and surrounds most of the Antarctic continent, represents a distinctive feature of our planet. Sea ice spreads and retreats seasonally. It drifts and packs under the influence of wind and currents. It isolates the atmosphere from the ocean and produces the coldest saltiest ocean waters. It restricts the movement of ships but sustains Arctic bears and Antarctic penguins. It contains unique organisms that stimulate and support underice ecosystems. Poised where a few degrees of warming converts ice to water, sea ice has an exquisite sensitivity to climate. Its disappearance from any region, at any season, will represent a profound planetary change. Understanding the processes and impacts of sea ice, monitoring its extent and variability, and predicting its future represent substantial and crucial challenges for IPY.

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