International Polar Year


The International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 is a two-year campaign of science, research and education focused on the Arctic and Antarctica. Through international collaboration and multidisciplinary efforts, the research undertaken has overcome traditional obstacles of borders and disciplines. The IPY has maximized research tools and technologies to provide¬†new access and insight into the Earth’s Polar Regions. The legacy of the IPY 2007-2008 is lasting knowledge and infrastructure for future polar researchers.

IPY has six main themes:

  1. Status: to determine the present environmental status of the polar regions;
  2. Change: to understand past and present natural environmental and social change in the polar regions and to improve projections of future change;
  3. Global Linkages: to advance understanding on all scales of the links and interactions between polar regions and the rest of the globe, and of the processes controlling these;
  4. New Frontiers: to investigate the frontiers of science in the polar regions;
  5. Vantage Point: to use the unique vantage point of the polar regions to develop and enhance observatories from the interior of the Earth to the Sun and the cosmos beyond;
  6. Human Dimension: to investigate the cultural, historical, and social processes shaping the sustainability of circumpolar human societies, and to identify their unique contributions to global cultural diversity and citizenship.

The range of projects and diversity of approaches will be one of its greatest strengths.

Thanks to the IPY 2007-2008, there is renewed interest and funding available on the part of governments for polar research. For example, the Canadian government pledged $150 million for Arctic research for the IPY. Other countries and research institutes recognize the importance of polar research and are providing funds, expertise and technology for the IPY projects.


The Polar Regions span many countries’ borders such as Canada, the USA, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Norway and Iceland. The Polar Regions are understudied because of climatic and geographic challenges, creating gaps in our knowledge of this critical region. The scope of the challenge is large and best met by an international effort. The effects and relevance of the research will be global. The nature of the region, its importance and challenges make international cooperation necessary to better our knowledge and effort.


The Polar Regions, particularly the Arctic, are gaining importance geopolitically and economically. These areas also hold scientific clues to past behaviour of our planet. The unprecedented changes in the polar ecosystems have local and global impacts. Polar Regions are an integral part of the Earth system, closely linked to changes in climate change, sea levels, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystems and human activities. These regions respond, amplify and drive changes globally.


During the IPY 2007-2008, researchers working from universities, northern communities and government worldwide will participate and cooperate. Educators and media will spread the information from the IPY to a broader audience. Important participants are youth and young researchers because the future of the Polar Regions has implications for their future environment, health and wellbeing. Many countries have Youth Committees (such as the Canadian Youth Steering Committee) to help young people interested in the Arctic to get involved.

The IPY 2007-2008 engages the next generation of polar researchers as it improves the understanding of today’s public and decision makers.


Official Site:

Sponsoring Organizations:

Some National IPY Sites:

International Organizations with IPY web pages:

Other Arctic Sites