How does life persist in the coldest, darkest corners of the globe? How will changes in glaciers, ice sheets, snow cover, sea ice and permafrost affect the entire Earth? How will traditional ways of life in the North be altered by the challenges of a changing planet? During International Polar Year 2007-2008, which ran from March 1 2007 to March 1 2009, scientists and educators worked together to answer these questions and many more as part of the most comprehensive polar research campaign ever mounted.
Bringing together more than 50,000 researchers, local residents, educators, students, and support personnel from 60 nations and numerous scientific disciplines, International Polar Year (IPY) used new tools and technologies to observe polar systems. Reaching across the science spectrum, IPY’s 228 projects ranged from the first high-resolution images of whole mountain ranges buried beneath the Antarctic ice sheet to modeling studies of the poles’ geologic past that helped advance understanding of the risks and uncertainties of global change. The project facilitated a major expansion of polar science capabilities in terms of the number of researchers, tools, and systems devoted to this endeavor, and inspired a new level of engagement from educators, students, the residents of polar regions, and the public at large.