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IPY Report: July


1. IPO Notes
2. Current Operations
3. IPY science promotion days
4. Events, Meetings, and Conferences

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

1. IPO Notes

In seeking to understand the IGY World Days for our discussion of IPY science promotion days (below), I discovered this quote from Dr. Hugh Odishaw, then Executive Director of the US National Committee for IGY:  “My contention is a simple one: the IGY is the single most significant peaceful activity of mankind since the Renaissance and the Copernican Revolution.”

At the beginning of July, at the symposium ’Antarctica: 50 Years on the Ice - Just the Tip of the Iceberg‘ held in Wellington, New Zealand, the assembled group heard presentations on the Antarctic Treaty, an IGY legacy, as one of the most successful international agreements for peaceful cooperation.  Dr. Odishaw, speaking at the end of IGY operations in December 1958, could not anticipate the subsequent development of the Antarctic Treaty, but perhaps later he might have pointed to it as an example that confirmed his contention.

IPY’s goals, embodied in the IPY Framework Document, include ambitious international scientific cooperation but the IPY planners did not proclaim IPY as a stimulus for global peaceful political cooperation.  Fifty years after IGY, we start with a different understanding of the possibilities, responsibilities, influence, and limitations of science.  But perhaps the IGY planners also started with ambitious goals of scientific cooperation, and recognized the broader unanticipated political implications later, during the course of and after the scientific cooperation. 

IPY continues to gain scientific and public attention.  Ministers and ambassadors hear about IPY and participate in national and multinational diplomatic events that promote IPY, as occurred in New Zealand yesterday.  The general public hears or reads about polar regions and about IPY in local and international news, in recent books, in museums, and (soon perhaps) in film theatres.  And, as recent events in New Zealand show, national commitments to IPY science funding continue to grow.  In response to this public support and attention, we have responsibilities to conduct our research in a collaborative and cooperative manner and to share our activities and discoveries with the public.  We can not predict the political impact of IPY, but in a world that perhaps again needs examples of successful peaceful cooperation, and at a time when global political cooperation on environmental issues seems more urgent than ever before, we should understand that, in the larger public view, IPY may represent an unusual and unexpected opportunity.

2. Current Operations

Naturally, current IPY operations focus on the Arctic.  Several research vessels, from Sweden, Germany and Russia, to name only a few, currently carry IPY research teams.  Smaller vessels make measurements from their ‘frozen-in’ positions in the Arctic sea ice.  The AARI ice camp has started operations (; the web site of the IPO Eurasian Arctic Sub-Office provides links to many of these activities -

Other IPY researchers begin their work on Arctic permafrost, on Arctic vegetation, and on Arctic wildlife.  We also know, however, that funding for many northern researchers has (or will) arrive too late to allow operations during the summer of 2007.  We already anticipate that many of these Arctic IPY research programmes will continue into the northern summer of 2009.  To those projects with active operations - please send us your stories and pictures for the IPY site so we can both promote your project and show the wide diversity of IPY activities.

One of the IPY Arctic research vessels, the German vessel Polarstern, has received permission to conduct research within the waters of the Russian Federation.  This kind of pan-Arctic access remains crucial to meet the scientific goals of IPY.  Many people, including at WMO, AWI, AARI and in other offices and institutions of the Russian Federation, helped to make this permission possible.  We hope this Arctic cooperation continues throughout IPY and perhaps after - a small IPY example of improved political cooperation. 

3) IPY science promotion days

As you will read below in the report of recent IPY Education, Outreach and Communications working group meetings, we plan to coordinate activities around a series of IPY science promotion days, approximately quarterly near the times of solstices and equinoxes.  These days represent an opportunity for classrooms, museums and IPY institutions to coordinate on activities that will enhance our public impact.  In September 2007, for example, with sea ice cruises and research underway in both hemispheres, and with students in classrooms in many countries, we would promote activities, materials, and briefings related to sea ice, and to IPY generally.  In December 2007, with several transect activities underway in Antarctica, we might coordinate on topics related to ice sheets. 

IGY used ‘World Days’ to ensure synoptic and global measurements at mutually-agreed times, and, not incidentally, to capture world attention.  Some of these coordinated World Days occurred regularly.  Others occurred at times of special conditions, such as anticipated auroras or meteor showers.  Today, we benefit from many continuous global observing systems.  IPY also includes many projects that do not involve continuous observations.  The concept of a declared Day on which all IPY participants make their measurements would not apply across the range of IPY Projects.  However, the idea of specific days (or short periods, as occurred around the IPY launch on 1 March 2007) when we call attention to our science activities and enhance our outreach and education activities, if carefully planned and coordinated, can prove of substantial benefit for science and outreach.

4) Events, Meetings and Conferences

Several meetings relevant to IPY Education, Outreach, and Communication (EOC) occurred in June including:

- initial discussions with National Geographic about co-promotion, and discussion of the changing Arctic, at the time of the launch of An Arctic Tale.
See the preview here:

- preliminary discussions with Google Earth about an IPY layer (occurred at the International Symposium on Digital Earth (ISDE5) in California). A new version of the IPY Google Earth layer will be released in the next week. If you’d like to get involved, subscribe to the IPY geobrowsers discussion group at or watch the IPY webpage.
The new layer includes an overview of IPY history and science as well as current IPY blogs and news stories, presented geospatially. If you’d like to contribute to this, please email Rhian ()

- a series of workshops focussing on developing the EOC strategy throughout IPY. A full summary can be downloaded at

As a result of these meetings, IPO EOC activities are now focussing on:

- Developing materials for IPY researchers and

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