IPY needs full archive system to continue 'extraordinarily success', director says
International Polar Year (IPY), the largest and most ambitious scientific effort for half a century, has been an «extraordinarily international success» since its launch in March
2007 but the initiative could be in danger of losing its momentum and purpose if a comprehensive data storage facility is not in place after its conclusion in March 2009, according to Director
of the IPY International Programme Office Dr. David Carlson.
Carlson’s comment came after the global initiative that involves 63 countries has reportedly raked in $400 million in new research money into polar science research. Carlson said he predicts
the amount of new fund could reach $800 million by the end of its run in March 2009 which brings the total sum of fund for IPY-related science to a staggering $1.2 billion.
«Our science is very timely for environmental reasons and we are doing the right science at the right time,» he said while addressing the global concern of climate change. Carlson
was speaking in Rome at the European Polar Summit that was organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF) European Polar Board and the European Polar Consortium.
Admittedly the initiative has brought awareness to a wider population on the importance of the Polar Region but what goes beyond March 2009 when the IPY ends is still uncertain especially when
it comes to data coordination and the facilitation of a comprehensive archive system.
«The next challenge that we are facing is to put all the data in an accessible way that everyone can share. We agree we should do that but the actual task of how do we do, how to we share
it and how to do map it and that’s very challenging at this point,» Carlson told the audience at the Summit which included speakers ranging from the Italian Minister for Universities and
Research, Hon. Fabio Mussi to Dr. Artur Chilingarov, Deputy Chairman, State Duma of the Russian Federation. «They are not technical problems but we need the staff so this is a personnel
problem or else we are not able to make the data available in 2010.»
IPY Achievements – The IPY has so far made a big push on the education sector – on 21 September 2007 it launched a Science Day event focusing on sea Ice that involved schools
and museums in the U.S. , Europe and in Asia, utilising 18 languages.
On the research side the number of days that that it takes to melt the southern Greenland ‘s ice has been doubled from 15 to 30 days.
The IPY was the first in a series of events around the world to mark the start of the fourth international study of this kind. The first IPY, held in 1882-83, saw the world’s first co-ordinated
international expeditions to the polar regions. In 1932-33, the second IPY led to 40 permanent observation stations being established in the Arctic. And the third one during 1957-58 was known
as the International Geophysical Year (IGY). IGY had resulted in the discoveries of the Van Allen radiation belts that surround the Earth, and the launch of Sputnik, the world’s first
artificial satellite. IGY was also said to be fundamental in establishing the Antarctic Treaty, an international agreement that designated the region as a continent for peace and science. The
latest IPY is a programme of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science (ICSU) and is sponsored by several international organisations, including the
European Polar Board.
INFRAPOLAR – At the summit in Rome a European Polar Board-Initiative INFRAPOLAR was also launched. The project is intended to network European Polar Research stations in the
Arctic and Antarctic for the provision of research services in the area of climate and Environmental sciences.
«This is a very ambitious project ,» said Professor Carlo-Alberto Ricci, Chairman of the European Polar Board. «The INFORPOLAR project could go from networking to coordination
or integration of polar stations in Europe and in the two Polar Regions.» Ricci said currently there are about 19 European countries which have participated in the alliance plus countries
such as the US and the Russia Federation have also expressed their desire to contribute. The project is currently in proposal stage and will seek financial backing from the European Commission
early next year.
New Publications – The Summit also marked the launch of two major strategic documents that present updated overview of research infrastructures efforts in the Arctic and
Antarctic, and assessment of the current management polar programmes in 19 European countries.
The first report ‘The Landscape of European Polar Research; Volume 1: An assessment if current strategic management, polar programme definition and processes’ details the current status of
strategic processes, management practices, investment, evaluation and granting procedures of the 27 government agencies from 19 European countries that are currently partners in the European
This second publication The Landscape of European Polar Research; Volume II: European polar capacity – an overview of research infrastructures in the Arctic and Antarctic will provide a
strategic overview and portfolio of European polar research infrastructures in the Arctic and Antarctic controlled and owned by European countries including the Russian Federation and Greenland