International Polar Year “a success”

Marking the official end of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, scientists said the global research effort has greatly increased knowledge about the earth’s poles, the BBC reported. “The new evidence resulting from polar research will strengthen the scientific basis on which we build future actions,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).


The researchers’ conclusions are “still very much in the discovery phase”, said David Carlson, the IPY’s international programme office director. However, he said, “we have enough to say the whole ice/ocean/atmosphere system in both hemispheres is changing faster than we thought,” based on computer models. Carlson added: “It would be scientifically a failure and we would be remiss if we didn’t call attention to this and get back in there and look at it again quickly.”


The WMO released its preliminary report, The State of Polar Research, and some of the projects in the 60-country, US$1.2-billion scientific collaboration are ongoing. The summary of results outlines what has been learned so far from the polar-year projects.


Research dealt with sea-level rises due to the melting of ice sheets, sea-ice decreases in the Arctic, anomalous warming in the Southern Ocean, and the storage and release of methane in permafrost.


In addition to the detailed study of the geophysical and climatic systems of the poles, the projects also studied biodiversity, epidemiology and sociological issues in the Arctic. Indigenous Arctic peoples were, and are, actively involved in climate monitoring, measuring local wildlife populations and other aspects of the research.


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