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IPY in Google Earth

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Download the IPY layer now. (Requires the free Google Earth application — download Google Earth.)

To facilitate awareness and understanding between scientists, politicians, educators, the media and the public, we have created an International Polar Year layer for Google Earth. The aim for this layer is that it will evolve to reflect the latest science results contributed by IPY scientists.

As the International Polar Year progresses, you will be able to follow polar animals as they fly around the Antarctic, swim through the Oceans, or migrate around the Arctic. You will also be able to follow ships carrying scientists around the poles, see photos and videos from journeys throughout the polar regions, and download some of their data in almost real-time. The layer can also be used to visualize satellite data from the polar regions.

If you are involved in an IPY-endorsed project and would like to add your geospatial data to the IPY layer, here are instructions on how to contribute content.

A virtual globe such as Google Earth is a fantastic tool for studying the polar regions and demonstrating science in action; it is a new and useful way of conducting Earth science, facilitating logistics, and communicating the process to the public.

Presently, the main IPY layer contains two major components:

  • Take a tour of IPY: This folder is set up as a guided tour of IPY, intended to bring people up to speed on what IPY is all about, including its history and some information about the polar regions. The popups on this tour include links to more information on various topics.
  • IPY stories: This folder contains georeferenced stories, announcements, and blog posts from scientists involved with IPY. You can find these either by browsing the placemarks in the folder or by navigating to a region of interest and seeing what’s there. The stories are updated daily. Older stories are removed from this folder, but can still be accessed at www.ipy.org.


  • A further three components are separate files that can be accessed from within the main IPY layer, or downloaded directly via the links below:

  • Take a tour of IPY projects: This layer is set up as a guided tour of all 240 endorsed projects taking place during this IPY. This tour was created by pulling information directly out of the IPY project database, plus some project summaries developed afterwards. Each project is displayed at a single location, typically the first site listed in their proposal. As many projects are working in many locations, the location used here is intended as only being representative of the project. (Note that not all of these projects have been funded; the ones listed are those that were proposed to and endorsed by the IPY International Program Office.)
  • Learn more about an IPY project: This layer is designed to allow individual scientists to describe their project in greater detail. Here is the opportunity for individual projects to include substantially more detail than can be found in the tour of IPY projects, above.
  • Useful polar layers: A web page collecting links to layers of polar data that may be useful for anyone interesting in learning more about the polar regions. These resources are not related to a particular IPY project.

Creation of this layer was made possible through the contributions of numerous individuals. Overall guidance and initial content creation was led by Matt Nolan (UAF, with support of ARSC) and Stefan Geens (IPY International Program Office), with useful assistance from Rhian Salmon (IPY IPO), Andrew Flemming (BAS), David Herring (NASA), and Frank Neipold (NOAA). Erik Gregg and Kristen Shake (GINA) provided considerable help with the "IPY Project" tour.