USGS - science for a changing world

Fact Sheet 2007-3013

International Polar Year: Science at the Ends of the Earth

In response to unprecedented changes in the fragile polar regions of our planet, the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 will encompass many scientific studies designed to improve our understanding of polar change and its effects on Earth's ecosystems and people. For 2 years, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers will don arctic gear and join scientists from more than 60 countries to conduct coordinated research and analysis in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Polar regions play a critical role in the global climate system—and changing conditions in these often remote areas greatly affect biological, atmospheric, and human systems around the world. In the 50 years since the last IPY, scientists have seen that Antarctic ice shelves and glaciers worldwide are thinning and retreating, permafrost is thawing, and Arctic sea-ice cover is decreasing. The loss of sea-ice cover adversely affects marine mammal populations and leaves coastal Alaskan villages vulnerable to winter storm erosion. Thawing permafrost threatens the integrity of roads, buildings, and other vulnerable infrastructure and affects the mobility of local populations.


Fact Sheet 2007-3013 [477-K PDF]

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