Maximizing the Legacy of IPY in the Arctic. Proposal for the Arctic Council.

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Norwegian delegation of the Arctic Council
The 4th International Polar Year 2007-2008 is the largest international research cooperation program ever launched, involving several tens of thousands of scientists on a global scale. IPY aims at making new important progress in the polar sciences, with a special focus on Arctic and bipolar issues. IPY has initiated almost 1000 research initiatives worldwide which condensed to more than 200 concrete research projects, involving between 5 and 20 countries and up to a few hundred scientists each. In contrast to previous polar years, the present program has a much wider scientific scope, including, for the first time, fields of direct societal importance, such as ecosystem and human health, development of indigenous societies, politics and economy, as well as genuinely interdisciplinary projects involving both natural and social science. The IPY lasts for two calendar years, from 1 March 2007 to 1 March 2009, but many major projects will continue beyond the latter date. A full evaluation of the outcome from this initiative will, however, take years and thus will influence polar research over a much longer time frame. Already now, before the official end of IPY, it is clear that the projects will yield a wealth of new data and scientific publications, which need to be registered, organized and be made available in an optimum way in order to guarantee the success of this unique research effort. Already in the initiation phase of the 4th IPY, there was agreement on that the legacy of this initiative should reach beyond the pure scientific achievements to enable scientists, policy-makers, and Arctic residents to continue to work together to understand and to address the big scientific outcomes of IPY. This seems to be particularly important in the context of the wider focus the Arctic has seen the last decade due to the especially pronounced manifestation of global change and, as a consequence of this, improved accessibility of natural resources there. The Arctic Council is the natural relevant body to assess and to take responsibility for the realization of IPY legacy aspects which are specific of the Arctic and are of potentially great influence on the future development in the Arctic.