International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 was the largest internationally co-ordinated research programme for 50 years. It was an intensive period of interdisciplinary science focused on the Arctic and Antarctic.
Science and exploration section docs
“Poles Apart: Arctic and Antarctic Fact File”. Information from International Polar Year, 2007-2008
International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2008 was the largest co-ordinated international scientific effort for 50 years. From ice sheets and space science to Arctic communities and the creatures of the Southern Ocean, IPY included more than 200 Arctic and Antarctic projects and harnessed the skills of 50,000 people – including scientists, students and support staff – from 63 nations.
Polar science is hugely important to help us to understand how the Earth works. During International Polar Year 2007/08, 50,000 participants from over 60 countries studied key issues such as weather and climate and the impact on human societies.
Technology plays a big part in Antarctic science. As new and improved gadgets and techniques are developed, collecting or analysing scientific data becomes easier and quicker.
Antarctica has no native human population, but each year around 4,000 people from over 30 countries live and work on research stations on the continent. Of about 50 permanent stations, about three quarters operate right through the year.
Antarctica can be a very dangerous place. All staff working for the British Antarctic Survey have to undergo lengthy medical tests before they can work in one of the research stations. Nevertheless, people based in Antarctica still have to take care to avoid risks to their health as evacuation is often impossible.
Read about 12 key events in Antarctica’s discovery and exploration. Red dots on the map show where they took place.
– Decide what you think are the five most important of these events.
– Use the co-ordinates to find the matching red dots for each on the map.
– Use arrows and words to label captions on your map to describe your five most important moments in Antarctica’s history.
– Compare your map with your neighbour – have you chosen the same events?
A letter found blowing in the Antarctic wind.
The breakout in March 2008 of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is the latest drama in a region that has experienced unprecedented warming over the last 50 years. In the past 30 years seven floating ice shelves retreated, with very little of their area now remaining. The changes give us clues about the impact of climate change across Antarctica in the coming centuries.