International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008

Polar Resources in the NOAA Library Network

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The NOAA Historical Polar Research Collection home page has been prepared to support the Agency's and NOAA Central Library (NCL) activities during International Polar Year 2007-2008. It displays the NCL network's unique online resources on exploration and research in Polar Regions. The collection includes selected library holdings from the 1st (1881-1883) through the 3rd (1957-1958) International Polar Years. This Web site offers full-text access to unique polar documents in the NOAA Library collections. Over two hundred of the listed documents are linked to previously scanned historically significant publications online.

These documents are also accessible via the Polar Bibliography: International Polar Year 2007-2008: Resources on Polar Research in the NOAA Central Library Network: a Selected Bibliography published online under LISD Current Reference Series 2006-1 (Updated as of September 2008) and is available to the international community via the NOAA Central Library Bibliography's home page and its online catalog NOAALINC.

In addition, over 2000 digital images on polar aspects from the NOAA Photo Library and NOAA Polar Posters are here also available.

IPY Official Logo
The International Polar Year 2007-2008 Official Site

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What is the International Polar Year?

An answer may be found on the Web sites below:

IPY : International Polar Year.

U.S. Committee to the International Polar Year.

NOAA Arctic Research Office

The Polar Regions are remote areas of the Earth that have profound significance for the Earth's climate and ultimately environments, ecosystems and human society. However we still remain remarkably ignorant of many aspects of how polar climate operates and its interaction with polar environments, ecosystems and societies. To have any hope of understanding the current global climate and what might happen in future the science community needs a better picture of conditions at the poles and how they interact with and influence the oceans, atmosphere and land masses. Existing climate models do not work well in the Polar Regions and have for example failed to predict the dramatic break-up of Antarctic ice shelves observed in recent years. The three fastest warming regions on the planet in the last two decades have been Alaska, Siberia and parts of the Antarctic Peninsula, thus the Polar Regions are highly sensitive to climate change and this raises real concern for the future of polar ecosystems and Arctic society.

There have been a number of major international science initiatives in Polar Regions and all have had a major influence in overhauling our understanding of global processes in these important areas. These initiatives have involved an intense period of interdisciplinary research, collecting a broad range of measurements that provide a snapshot in time of the state of the Polar Regions.[1]

The First International Polar Year (IPY), 1881 - 1883 was the first in the series of coordinated international expeditions to the Polar Regions. The first IPY was inspired by the Austrian explorer and an officer with the Austro-Hungarian Navy, Carl Weyprecht. Although he died before the commencement of the First International Polar Year, 12 countries participated in 15 expeditions, fulfilling Weyprecht's dream and heralding a new age of scientific discovery. [1]

The Second International Polar Year (IPY), 1932 - 1933 marked the 25th anniversary of the first IPY. It was proposed in 1928 at an international conference of meteorological service directors. Forty nations participated in Arctic research from 1932-1933, in the fields of meteorology, magnetism, aurora, and radio science. However, due to the worldwide economic depression, the second IPY was smaller than originally planned.

The Third International Polar Year (IPY), 1957 - 1958, later renamed the International Geophysical Year, was proposed in 1952 by the International Council of Scientific Unions, following a suggestion by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member Lloyd Berkner. The Third IPY/IGY was based on the earlier IPYs, but included research outside of the Polar Areas. These international research programs involved 80,000 scientists from 67 countries. It produced unprecedented exploration and discoveries in many fields of research and fundamentally changed how science was conducted in the polar regions. Fifty years on, technological developments such as earth observation satellites, autonomous vehicles and molecular biology techniques offer enormous opportunities for a further quantum step upwards in our understanding of polar systems.

The Fourth International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007-2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the Third International Polar Year to continue the tradition of international science years that began in 1882-1993 with the first International Polar Year and continued with a second International Polar Year in 1932-1933." It will provide an opportunity to engage the upcoming generation of young Earth System scientists and to get the public to realize just how much the cold ends of the sphere we all live on really do influence us. To ensure that researchers get the opportunity to work in both polar regions or work summer and winter if they wish, the Polar Year will actually run from March 2007-March 2009."[2]

Primary IPY stations in Arctic: eleven nations established 14 principal research stations across the Polar Regions. 12 were in the Arctic, along with at least 13 auxiliary stations. Over 700 men incurred the dangers of Arctic service to establish and relieve these stations between 1881 and 1884. [3] (Original Map available online)

[1] IPY, International Polar Year. What is IPY?

[2] U.S. Committee to the International Polar Year, 2007-2008.

[3] The First International Polar Year, 1881-1884. IPY documentary image collection.

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NOAA Resources:

2006 State of the Arctic Report
NOAA Arctic Theme home page
NOAA Ocean Explorer: Arctic Explorations
NOAA Paleoclimatology

U.S. Resources:

U.S. Committee to the International Polar Year 2007-2008
National Science Foundation IPY Program>
Polar Research Board (PRB)
Polar Science Center
U.S. Antarctic Program
National Snow and Ice Data Center
International Arctic Research Center - University of Alaska Fairbanks. Website supported by U.S. and Japanese governments

International Resources:

IPY, International Polar Year 2007-2008 official home page
The Scope of Science for the International Polar Year 2007-2008
International Polar Year 2007-2008 - Canada
Canadian Polar Commission - Canada
Arctic Portal - UK
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research - Germany
Scott Polar Research Institute - UK
British Antarctic Survey - UK
Norwegian Polar Institute _ Norway
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute - Russia
Netherlands Polar Programme - Netherlands
International Polar Foundation - Belgium, France, Switzerland, UK
Polar Science Centre - Denmark
French Polar Institute - France
Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
National Programme of Antarctic Research - Italy
National Institute of Polar Research - Japan
Swedish Polar Research Secretariat - Sweden

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Funding for this project was provided by the NOAA Climate Database Modernization Program (CDMP), National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC. Please credit the NOAA Central Library Data Imaging Project when using these historical documents. Please credit the NOAA Photo Library when using photos.

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For additional information, questions or comments on this home page, please contact our Team:, 301-713-2607, ext. 147, 301-713-2607 ext. 124

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