The International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organization declared 2007-08 as the International Polar Year (IPY). The "year" started on March 1, 2007, and officially ended on March 1, 2009.
The IPY focused the efforts of researchers around the world on the northern and southern polar regions. This IPY marked the 125th anniversary of the first IPY, the 75th anniversary of the second IPY and the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year. Each of these initiatives brought significant new insights into global processes and laid the foundation for decades of invaluable polar research. The most recent IPY, a highly collaborative and international effort to conduct multidisciplinary polar observations and analysis, is expected to have the same, or even greater, impact.
NSERC’s direct contribution to the IPY consisted of a $6-million investment in the research activities of 11 groups of Canadian researchers. These projects were all part of larger international efforts to investigate a wide range of physical and biological research topics, including the impact of climate change on northern glaciers and the biodiversity of northern ecosystems. NSERC also administered more than $30 million of the federal government’s $98 million in IPY research funding.
Worldwide, the IPY research included more than 200 projects involving thousands of scientists from 60 countries. Canada hosted many of these researchers during the course of their work.
IPY projects were supported on the understanding that the data gathered by researchers would be made freely available as quickly as possible. Analysis of the extensive data collected by IPY researchers is currently in progress, with still more data and research summaries expected to come from the projects that remain ongoing.