Consensus Report

A Vision for the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (2004)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The vision of the U.S. National Committee is to recognize the International Polar Year by presenting an overview of potential science themes, enabling new technologies, and providing public outreach opportunities to both individuals and scientific communities. The committee recommends that the U.S. scientific community and other agencies use the IPY to initiate environmental change and variability in the polar regions; explore new scientific frontiers ranging from the molecular to the planetary scale and excite and engage the public by providing useful information about polar regions in the global system. These tactics will also help to advance general science literacy in the nation.

Key Messages

  • Environmental changes currently observed in the polar regions are unprecedented in times of modern observation. Studies investigating natural environmental variability, human influence on our planet, and global teleconnections will help in understanding mechanisms of rapid climate change and in developing models suitable for forecasting changes that will occur in the twenty-first century.
  • IPY 2007-2008 will provide a framework and impetus to undertake projects that normally could not be achieved by any single nation.
  • The IPY is an unprecedented opportunity to engage the public in discovery on a real-time basis. Public outreach, education, and public engagement will be hallmarks of the IPY.
  • The IPY will address issues that are most relevant to today's society that can be best addressed by study in the polar regions. IPY exploration and research will be of the highest quality and challenge the state of the art.
  • The most advanced technologies can be brought to bear in an ensemble approach. A spectrum of temporal and spatial scales will be addressed. Information will be accessible, preserved, and made available to all in the scientific and engineering communities
  • Investigations of impacts of linked environmental-technological-social change and health effects in many communities, including northern communities, are needed.