Education Outreach

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Figure 2.9: IPY planning chart as of 10 October 2007: the framework of hexagons provides a visual impression of how all the endorsed IPY projects are related in terms of geography and topic and how they may be linked (source: David Carlson, IPY 2007-2008, International Programme Office, Cambridge, UK).

are hoped to be gained, and the need to inform and run numerical models, the full results of the IPY may take several years to become clear. There will be even more emphasis in the fourth IPY than in the IGY on the capture, storage and retrieval of data for the benefit of all.

The polar regions are particularly important at this time because, among other things, they are much more sensitive than are other parts of the world to climate change, and they are experiencing significant environmental change, which is having a profound impact on the ecosystems and human activity. Aside from that, through long-range climate connections what happens in the polar regions influences what happens elsewhere on the Earth. As for the past IPY/IGY initiatives, the fourth IPY will provide a framework to undertake projects that normally could not be achieved by any single nation. Thousands of scientists from more than 60 countries, including those not traditionally involved in polar research, will examine a wide range of physical, biological and social research topics. A departure from the three previous IPYs is that about 60 of the 230 or so projects will focus on education and outreach objectives, aimed at attracting the next generation of polar scientists and engaging the public in global environmental issues.

As mentioned above, the various scientific proposals from the scientific community led the IPY organisers to identify six science themes, listed below. Some projects will contribute to more than one of these themes. The majority aim at understanding the changing polar environment and the impact of those changes (e.g. Allison et al., 2007):

1. Status: to determine the present environmental status of the polar regions;

2. Change: to quantify and understand past and present natural environmental and social changes in the poles and to improve projections of future change;

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

4. New frontiers: to investigate the frontiers of science in these regions;

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

6. The 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.

During the IPY there will be considerable emphasis on improving our understanding of the behaviour of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the climate of the region, and on the history of the ice sheet and climate. The ACE programme will make a significant contribution to this latter goal. IPY projects will use proxy records from sediment cores, ice cores and other sources to define how the past climate and environments changed. A greater understanding of past changes in this region is crucial to forming a better knowledge of future global environmental change and to predicting the role of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the future as Earth warms. During the IPY new ice cores will be recovered in Greenland (North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, NEEM project), and Antarctica (West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide, WAIS Divide), providing new high-resolution records of glacial and interglacial changes during the Quaternary. On a longer time scale, drilling of sediment cores along the Antarctic continental margin (ANDRILL; www.andrill.org) aims to study the glacial and climate history of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean following the late Cretaceous (e.g. see Florindo et al., 2003, for a review of the recent history of circum-Antarctic drilling by the Ocean Drilling Program and the Cape Roberts Project, and see Hambrey and Barrett, 1993, for a more comprehensive review of earlier drilling in the Ross Sea region).

Finally, it should be mentioned that the IPY is not the only activity conducting special activities during the 50th anniversary of the IGY. There are also the International Year of Planet Earth (http://www.esfs.org/); the Electronic Geophysical Year (EGY) (http://www.egy.org/); the International Heliophysical Year (IHY) (http://ihy.gsfc.nasa.gov/). Various International Council for Science Unions are coordinating these efforts and the International Programme Office, established by ICSU and WMO at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, will serve as the official contact point for these other programmes.

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