Lessons and Legacies of
INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR
Committee on the Lessons and Legacies of International Polar Year 2007-2008
Polar Research Board
Division of Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by the National Science Foundation under award number ANT-1026273. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agency or any of its sub agencies.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-25203-4
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-25203-2
Cover image by Max, age 5, Seattle, WA.
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COMMITTEE ON THE LESSONS AND LEGACIES OF
INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR 2007-2008
JULIE BRIGHAM-GRETTE (Co-Chair), University of Massachusetts, Amherst
ROBERT A. BINDSCHADLER (Co-Chair), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
MARY R. ALBERT, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
JOHN J. CASSANO, University of Colorado, Boulder
LARRY D. HINZMAN, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
EILEEN E. HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA
IGOR KRUPNIK, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
VERA KINGEEKUK METCALF, U.S. Arctic Research Commission/Eskimo Walrus Commission, Nome, AK
STEPHANIE PEIRMAN, Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, NY
CHRIS RAPLEY, University College London, UK
LISA SPEER, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, NY
THOMAS N.TAYLOR,* University of Kansas, Lawrence
WILFORD F. WEEKS, University of Alaska, Fairbanks (Emeritus), Portland, OR
MARTHA MCCONNELL, Program Officer until September 2011
EDWARD DUNIEA, Senior Program Officer
LUIREN BROWN, Research Associate
SHELLY FREKLAND, Senior Program Assistant
* Resigned during the study process.
POLAR RESEARCH BOARD
JAMES W.C.WHITK (Chair), University of Colorado, Boulder
SRIDHAR ANANDAKRISHNAN, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
JULIE BRIGHAM-GRETTE, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
DAVID H. BROMWICH, Ohio State University, Columbus
JENNIFER A. FRANCIS, Rutgers University, Marion,
EILEEN E. HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk,
BERNICE M. JOSEPH, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
AMY LAUREN LOVECRAFT, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
MOLLY E. McCAMMON, Alaska Ocean Observing System, Anchorage
ELLEN S. MOSLEY-THOMPSON, Ohio State University, Columbus
GEORGE B. NEWTON, QinetiQ North America and U.S. Arctic Research Commission, Marstons Mills, MA
CARYN REA, ConocoPhillips, Anchorage,
VLADIMIR E. ROMANOVSKY, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
GAIUS (GUS) R. SHAVER, The Ecosystems Center, Woods Hole,
ALLAN T. WEATHERWAX, Siena College, Loudonville, NY
JACQUELINE M. GREBMEIER, University of Maryland, Solomons
MAHLON (CHUCK) C. KENNICUTT II, Texas A&M University, College Station
TERRY WILSON, Ohio State University, Columbus
CHRIS ELFRING, Board Director
LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer
EDWARD DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer
LAUREN BROWN, Research Associate
RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator
GRAIG MANSFIELD, Financial Associate
AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant
Despite their location, tucked away at the fringes of maps of our planet, the polar regions are central to the global system. Scientists of the International Geophysical Year in 1957 could not have imagined the extent to which humanity has changed the face of our planet in the intervening 50 years. Record lows in the extent of Arctic summer sea ice, rapid changes in the Greenland ice sheet, the disintegration of gigantic ice shelves around the Antarctic, ocean acidification, and reorganization of polar ecosystems, among other changes, are reshaping the world, which is now home to over 7 billion people.1
What we primarily celebrate in this International Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY) are the scientific pursuits that illuminate our understanding of the high latitudes and the role that they play in a rapidly evolving world. Reaching across the scientific spectrum, from the first high-resolution images of whole mountain ranges buried beneath Antarctica to the asymmetric auroras of our austral and boreal atmosphere, IPY 2007-2008 focused attention on the Earth as a complex integrated system. New technologies, new tools, and networked data acquisition structures were developed, setting new benchmarks for observing and understanding polar systems. Our understanding of the risks and uncertainties of global change were enhanced through groundbreaking modeling studies of the geologic past.
Starting from the efforts of a small number of enthusiasts and agencies, and building on existing multinational collaborations and science programs, IPY developed into a worldwide, community-based effort. Central to this success was an expanding Internet that permitted the rapid growth of a community; the transmission of ideas, maps, and data; the matching of collaborators; and the evolution of innovative themes. The Internet also made it possible for scientists to engage the public personally and enter thousands of classrooms as never before, often directly from remote field sites, as one part of the larger IPY education and outreach effort. IPY also celebrated the human spirit of discovery, bridging circumarctic indigenous knowledge with shared scientific endeavors while also addressing challenging societal concerns.
At its core, IPY was a large, coordinated suite of polar observations, research, and analysis. It also achieved an expanding knowledge base of diverse and enthusiastic men and women prepared to sustain and build on the legacies of previous polar science. Many dedicated people deserve thanks for their efforts in this process. IPY would not have happened but for the dedication and efforts of the thousands of participating scientists and researchers. Many more technicians and engineers assisted science teams with equipment and logistics in challenging environments.
This report was prepared to capture the major successes of this effort and to summarize what was learned. The committee heard from many people in the polar science community, and we thank everyone for their thoughts and perceptions (see Acknowledgments section). On behalf of the entire study team, we also thank the National Science Foundationâ€™s Office of Polar Programs for their support of IPY and this
report, and for providing documentation and informative details. Finally, this report would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of the National Research Council staff: Martha McConnell, Shelly Freeland, Lauren Brown, Edward Dunlea, and Chris Elfring.
The world will continue to change, and processes of polar amplification will continue the rapid transformation of the high latitudes in the coming decades. Our hope is that the legacies of IPY will help societies understand those changes and put knowledge into action, forging new frontiers in the protection and management of our planetâ€™s resources at all latitudes. When another IPY is needed in the future, we hope the lessons from this one can serve as a guide.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
NASA Goddard Space Center
Committee on the Lessons and Legacies
of International Polar Year 2007-2008
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Robin Bell, Columbia University, Palisades, NY
Cecilia Bitz, University of Washington, Seattle
Richard Boone, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
David Carlson, IPY International Programme Office, Boulder, CO
Shari Gearheard, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada
Guy Guthridge, National Science Foundation (Retired), Arlington, VA
Amy Lovecraft, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Mark Parsons, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO
Lynne Talley, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA
Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Margo H. Edwards, University of Hawaii at Manoa. Appointed by the NRC, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution.
In addition, the committee would like to thank in particular for their contributions during the study process:
Waleed Abdalati, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC
Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Jenny Baeseman, Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, Tromsø,
Norway Robin Bell, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University, New York, NY
Jody Deming, University of Washington, Seattle
Hajo Eicken, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Jackie Grebmeier, University of Maryland, College Park
Geoffrey Haines Styles, POLAR-PALOOZA/P2K, New York, NY
Fae Korsmo, National Science Foundation, Washington, DC
Don Perovich, ERDC-CRREL, Hanover, NH
Ted Scambos, NSIDC, Boulder, CO
Peter Schlosser, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, NY
Carthage Smith, International Council for Science, Paris, France
Mead Treadwell, Lt. Governor of Alaska, Juneau
The committee would also like to thank the numerous scientists spoken to throughout the study process, in particular all of the questionnaire respondents who provided their thoughts on the lessons and legacies from IPY.