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IPY Report: August


1. The cyber face of IPY
2. Secondment opportunity in IPO
3. Project status information
4. Youth Steering Committee, Early Career Scientists and Youth Activities
5. Looking ahead to AGU 2007

From: IPY International Programme Office
To: IPY Project Coordinators
cc: IPY Community Google Groups

1. The cyber-face of IPY

We continue to make improvements and add material to the IPY web site.  Visitors can now go directly to a project search page, and from there search by project name, number, discipline, or country.  We start to link national reports to the national committee pages.  We feature a new interactive IPY chart: click on the hexagon, go to the project.  And, we have a new Google Earth layer, with an automated tour, with all the current project summaries, with history, and with stories and news events from the website, all (of course) searchable and explorable by location. 

We look for ways to use interfaces like these to allow the public, using their normal daily web browsing and geobrowsing tools, to find IPY and to find the IPY projects!  Please check the details of your project page on  Please suggest new text, photos, links, or video for that space.  Rhian () looks forward to hearing from you and to helping you add new material to your project page.

To demonstrate the diversity and excitement in IPY, we need high-quality content about each project.  If your project already has its own website, then we want to link directly to that.  But not just in a unilateral linkage, to you.  We want to highlight your work by ingesting blogs and news automatically from your site, and by showing your pictures and stories in our Highlight position.  We also want to show your georeferenced information, your ship tracks, traverse locations, daily flight patterns, borehole locations, species maps, sampling sites, and so on, in the Google Earth layers.  We have the tools in place to make all of this happen, and we have user groups to help.  If your project does not have its own website, then we want to make news, stories and images available directly from the IPY project summary page.  (And, as mentioned previously, the Arctic Portal group can help you develop a project website!)

We have not mentioned the IPY collection of streaming video on YouTube, or the IPY group on Facebook - a bewildering array of new communications technologies, often fun, occasionally useful, presents itself.  We have identified the IPY website and the Google Earth layers as two very effective technologies for IPY.  We enlist your support in building and improving these faces of IPY. 

2. Secondment opportunity in IPO

The IPO administrator, Nicola Munro, will work for the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica during the months of December 2007 through March 2008.  We see this as a splendid opportunity for Nicola! 

To fill the gap in the IPO during those months, we solicit nominations for an international Secondment to the IPY IPO.  These Secondments have worked extremely well in other international programme offices.  The individual gains experience in international affairs, discovers new skills, and, often, develops numerous international friends and connections.  The IPO gains the talents and experience of the guest, and develops new connections to the individual’s institution and nation.  The institution and nation gain connections to the IPO, and benefit from the broadened experience and outlook of their employee.  We offer this opportunity as a formal Secondment.  The source institution continues to pay the employee’s full salary and benefits.  The IPO pays living costs in Cambridge, and all associated travel.  Financially, Secondments should occur as no loss, no gain, for the individual. 

The expected time in Cambridge should include some overlap with Nicola in late November and then the full period of absence, December through March.  The duties include routine administrative tasks (mostly via email), exhibit support, potential travel to two major conferences, and the opportunity to work with committees and task groups on various education and outreach activities.  The individual must have excellent speaking and writing skills in English.  We hope the individual also has an ability to manage materials and contributions to the IPY web site. 

These Secondments can work extremely well for the office, for the individual, and for the home institution.  We hope you will discuss this opportunity with staff at your institutions.

3. Project status information

In general, the IPO takes your communication, and particularly your voluntary participation in this email list, as sufficient indication of project status - if we have a communication linkage, we assume you have a viable project.  We know that you and your project partners already prepare cruise reports, work package reports, research permission applications, and reports to funding agencies and national committees.  We also know that many of you still await news on project funding.  We do not want to add another layer of project reporting!

However, the IPY Joint Committee meets next in October 2007, in Quebec City, Canada.  At that point, 6 months after the launch and with most (we hope) national funding decisions known, yet with substantial time remaining, it seems quite appropriate that the Joint Committee should make a general assessment of the overall effort, particularly to identify weaknesses or gaps.

IPO plans a two-stage assessment process.  The first stage we already mentioned - the presence of an active communication link.  We like this indicator better than a textual report because an active communication link benefits the project, not just the IPO.  And, an active communication link can serve as the predecessor to an active data information link - the Joint Committee will devote substantial attention to data flows and data management at the October meeting.  From the IPO side, we will work with you to ensure that we have as many of these links as possible in place by October. 

As a second status indicator, IPO will request from each of you, in September, an identification of key missing elements from your project as originally planned.  These weaknesses might derive from many factors, including funding limitations, timing problems, restrictions on access, or lack of coordination.  The Joint Committee will not advocate for any particular unfunded project.  However, the Joint Committee can draw national and international attention to substantial weaknesses that affect many projects or that limit progress toward the overall IPY goals.  Perhaps, despite our best efforts, we do not have the resources in place to make an assessment of Southern Ocean ecosystems?  Or perhaps we find that due to adverse combinations of funding, logistics, and weather we can not achieve a pan-Arctic assessment of contaminants or of permafrost degradation?  The Joint Committee can and should undertake a broad assessment of IPY in October, but they can only make their assessments based on information from you.  We will make an explicit call for this information in the September report. 

4. Youth Steering Committee, Early Career Scientists and Youth Activities

The energetic members of the Youth Steering Committee (YSC) have many activities to report.  A major component of YSC, the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), has experienced a rapid expansion in membership.  APECS works with IASC and SCAR to ensure a strong early career involvement at the 2008 IASC/SCAR Science Conference in St. Petersburg.  Other YSC groups take the lead in planning a major International Youth Conference on the Poles in 2009.  Many of these YSC activities take place through new national and disciplinary sub-groups.  YSC partners have led several national outreach activities working with teachers, schools, and undergraduate classes.  Winners from polar contests organised by YSC members in Portugal and New Zealand will be going to Antarctica this season with Students on Ice!

If you or any of your colleagues (especially post-docs and students) want to become more involved in these activities, please contact .

5. Looking ahead to AGU, 2007

For many geoscientists, the winter AGU meeting in San Francisco (10th

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