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Legacies and Lessons of International Polar Year 2007-2008.

Brigham-Grette, J; Bindschadler, RA; Albert, M; Cassano, JJ; Hinzman, LD; Hofmann, EE; Krupknik, II; ... Freeland, S; + view all Legacies and Lessons of International Polar Year 2007-2008. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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Despite their location tucked away or cropped at the fringes of maps of our planet, 6 the Polar Regions are central to the global change that is happening now at rates faster 7 than predictions just one or two decades ago. Scientists of the International Geophysical 8 Year in 1957 could not have imagined the extent to which humanity has changed the face 9 of our planet in the intervening 50 years. Record lows in Arctic summer sea ice, rapid 10 changes in the Greenland Ice sheet, the disintegration of gigantic ice shelves around the 11 Antarctic, ocean acidification, and reorganization of polar ecosystems, among other 12 changes, are reshaping the world, a place now home to over 7 billion people. 13 Yet what we celebrate in this International Polar Year (“IPY”) are the 14 tremendous scientific discoveries that illuminate our understanding of the high latitudes 15 and the role that they play in a rapidly evolving world. Reaching across the scientific 16 spectrum from the first high-resolution images of whole mountain ranges buried beneath 17 Antarctica to the asymmetric auroras of our austral and boreal atmosphere, IPY 2007- 18 2008 was a time of accelerated appreciation in a holistic vision of the Earth as a complex 19 integrated system. New technologies, new tools, and networked data acquisition 20 structures were developed, setting a new benchmark for observing and understanding 21 polar systems. Even some of the risks and uncertainties of global change can now be 22 played out through ground-breaking modeling studies of the geologic past. Without 23 question, multinational collaborations and leveraged science programs were nourished 24 into a world-wide, bottom-up effort via an expanding internet and social networks that 25 permitted the rapid transmission of ideas, maps and data, the matching of collaborators, 26 and the evolution of innovative themes. The modern Internet also made it possible for 27 scientists to engage the public personally and enter thousands of classrooms, virtually 28 direct from remote field sites, as never before.IPY also celebrated the human spirit of discovery, bridging circumarctic 2 indigenous knowledge with shared scientific endeavors while, at the same time, 3 addressing challenging societal concerns. Meanwhile, prospects of a seasonally ice-free 4 Arctic Ocean in the coming decades have raised domestic and international concerns 5 among neighboring Arctic nations about the consequences of unfettered access to the 6 Arctic region and the management and sovereignty of its resources. Renewed discussions 7 of Ascension to the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by the United States could not be more 8 timely from a polar perspective. 9 At its essence, IPY was a large, coordinated field campaign of polar observations, 10 research, and analysis. But IPY was much more than that. It was also about an expanding 11 knowledge base of diverse and enthusiastic men and women prepared to sustain and build 12 on the legacies of previous polar science. This report was prepared to capture the major 13 successes of this effort and to summarize what was learned. 14 Many dedicated people deserve thanks for their efforts in this process. The IPY 15 would not have happened but for the dedication and efforts of the thousands of 16 participating scientists and researchers; without their efforts, there would be nothing to 17 report. It is also important to acknowledge the technicians and engineers who assisted 18 science teams with the equipment and means to overcome extreme climatic and practical 19 challenges with logistics that otherwise limit research in extreme areas of land and sea. 20 Through the process of gathering information for this report, the committee heard from 21 many of those people in the polar science community and we thank everyone for their 22 thoughts and perceptions (see Acknowledgments section). On behalf of the entire study 23 team, we thank the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs for their 24 support of this report and for providing documentation and informative details, as we 25 needed it. Finally, this report would not have been possible without the dedication, 26 perseverance, and hard work of the National Research Council staff: Martha McConnell, 27 Shelly Freeland, Lauren Brown, Edward Dunlea, and Chris Elfring. 28 The world will continue to change and processes of polar amplification will 29 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 2 to action, forging new frontiers in the management of our planet’s resources at all 3 latitudes. When another IPY is needed in the future, we hope the lessons from this one 4 can serve as a guide.

Type: Report
Title: Legacies and Lessons of International Polar Year 2007-2008.
UCL classification: UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1345444
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