THE INTERNATIONAL GEOPHYSICAL Year (IGY), in French, Année Géophysique Internationale, took place between July 1, 1957 and December 31, 1958. The International Council for Science (ICSU) began designing it in 1952. The ICSU addresses global issues through international initiatives aimed to support scientists. A successful example of these initiatives, besides the International Geophysical Year, is the International Biological Program, which took place 1964-74. The International Geophysical Year was inspired by National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member Lloyd Berkner and colleagues in 1950. It was modeled after previous International Polar Years, 1882-83 and 1932-33.
The IGY was to invite and allow all scientists to collaborate internationally in organized geophysical examinations. It would take place during peak
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solar activity, 1957-58. Initially, 46 nations pledged to send representatives; however, the IGY was such a success that within the year, 67 nations actually participated. Participating scientists in the IGY represented 11 chief fields of Earth sciences: aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagneticsm, gravity, ionospheric physics, longitude and latitude determinations, meteorology, oceanography, rocketry, seismology, and solar activity.
The NAS assembled a U.S. National Committee (USNC) to blueprint the extent of American involvement in the IGY. The USNC was established in March 1953 and chaired by Joseph Kaplan, then a Professor of Physics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The vice chairman of the UNSC was Alan H. Shapley, a physicist at the National Bureau of Standards. The NAS appointed another National Bureau of Standards member, Hugh Odishaw, as executive secretary. He would later become the executive director. Initially, the American contingent was to be 16 core UNSC members overseeing five working groups and 16 technical panels; however, the team quickly reached more than 200 member scientists.
As part of the IGY, both the United States and the Soviet Union launched artificial satellites into outer space. The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in October of 1957; it was called Sputnik I. The U.S. artificial satellite Explorer I launched in January 1958. In 1956, the British established the Halley Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, for the IGY; the bay housing it was named Hal-ley Bay, in honor of the English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742). The work carried out in the Antarctic, while not initially as esteemed as Arctic or equatorial work, proved to be pivotal for modern estimates of total ice content on Earth. These estimates were determined from measurements of ice depths in the Antarctic.
sEE ALso: International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU); International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG); Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs).
BIBLIoGRAPHY. Ronald Fraser, Once Round the Sun: The Story of the International Geophysical Year (The Macmil-lan Company, 1961); Mike Gruntman, Blazing the Trail: The Early History of Spacecraft and Rocketry (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2004); Walter
Sullivan, Assault on the Unknown: The International Geophysical Year (McGraw Hill, 1961).
Claudia Winograd University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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