1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007
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The International Council for Science in conjunction with the World Meteorological Organization established an International Polar Year (IPY) in 2007-2008, the 125th anniversary of the first polar year and the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58.
The polar regions are remote areas of the planet Earth that have profound significance for Earth's climate and ultimately environments, ecosystems and human society. There have been a number of major international science initiatives in polar regions since the first IPY in 1882-83. These initiatives have involved an intense period of interdisciplinary research, collecting a broad range of measurements that provide a snapshot in time of the state of polar regions. The last such initiative was the International Geophysical Year 1957-58, which involved nearly 30,000 scientists from 66 countries. The highly successful cooperative scientific enterprise was centred on Antarctica. Fifty years on, technological developments such as earth observation satellites, autonomous vehicles and molecular biology techniques offer opportunities for a quantum step upwards in understanding polar systems. IPY 2007-2008 will run from March 2007-March 2009 to ensure that the anticipated 60,000 scientists that are expected to participate get the opportunity to work in both polar regions or work summer and winter, if they wish. Australia will be playing its part through the coordination of major international climate and marine biodiversity studies in Antarctica.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics invited Professor Michael Stoddart, Australian Government Antarctic Division and Dr Tom Griffiths, Australian National University, to contribute to a feature article in this edition of Year Book Australia marking the IPY 2007-2008. Dr Griffiths' essay discusses the major phases and trends in the history of Antarctica over two centuries. Professor Stoddart has provided a contemporary picture of life in Antarctica, including a description of what it is like to work in Antarctica and an outline of Australia's programme of scientific research. Shorter articles on specific aspects of Australia's involvement in Antarctica - administration, fishing, tourism, waste management - are contained in relevant chapters of the Year Book.