The International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2008 represents one of the most ambitious coordinated international science programmes ever attempted. It will include research and observations in both the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions and explore the strong links these regions have with the rest of the globe. The poles are recognized as sensitive barometers of environmental change. Polar science is crucial to understanding our planet and our impact on it. The poles are also exceptional archives of what the Earth was like in the past, and offer a unique vantage point for many terrestrial and cosmic phenomena.
This IPY will initiate a new era in polar science and involve a wide range of research disciplines, from geophysics and ecology to social science and economics. It is a truly international endeavour with over 60 countries participating in more than 200 projects. IPY 2007–2008 also aims to educate and involve the public, and to help train the next generation of engineers, scientists and leaders. Therefore, over 50 of the projects deal with education and outreach.
IPY 2007–2008 is co-sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It builds on a 125-year history of internationally coordinated study of polar regions. This extends back to the first and second International Polar Years of 1882–1883 and 1932–1933, which were sponsored by the International Meteorological Organization—WMO’s predecessor—and the International Geophysical Year of 1957–1958, backed by ICSU and WMO. IPY 2007–2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year.