Countdown to International Polar Year

**Invitation to Media Briefing on 14th March @ 9.30am, The Wellcome Trust, Euston Road, London

One year from now the biggest internationally coordinated research effort for 50 years will begin as thousands of scientists from 60 countries focus their attention on the Polar Regions. Together they will tackle the urgent environmental issues facing society. Rapid climate change is already changing our planet affecting the Arctic's native peoples. Today (Tuesday 14 March) at the launch of a major science initiative International Polar Year at the Wellcome Trust, leading scientists outline plans.

British Antarctic Survey Director, Professor Chris Rapley and IPY Programme Director, Dave Carlson unveil IPY and explain how it aims to advance our knowledge of the Polar Regions and take us into a new realm for understanding the Earth. Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury gives a broadcast speech at the launch.

IPY will address and solve global scale problems through an enormous range of science. From the ecology of the polar oceans, the dynamics of massive ice sheets and their effect on global sea level to the impact of space weather on global communications.

The three fastest warming regions on the planet over the last 50 years have been Alaska, Siberia and parts of the Antarctic Peninsula with average temperature increases of 2-3C. Fifty years ago International Geophysical Year, produced some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs. The first earth satellites were launched (notably Sputnik), ice sheet thickness discovery changed the way we viewed our world, global cooperation led to today's world weather observation system and the Antarctic Treaty designated the continent for peace and science.

International Polar Year will build on the success of IGY and push the frontiers of our understanding of Earth. The results will provide the crucial information that international governments need to make informed decisions about how society needs to adapt to our changing world.

Public engagement, education and outreach are a major component of IPY. Films, television series, blogs, podcasts, art projects and education initiatives will make IPY perhaps the largest scientific effort in public view since the moon landings.

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Issued by British Antarctic Survey Press Office on behalf of the IPY Programme Office.
Contact: Athena Dinar tel: (01223) 221414, mob:07740 822229, email: a.dinar@bas.ac.uk
Linda Capper tel: (01223) 221448, mob: 07714 233744, email: l.capper@bas.ac.uk

Picture Editors: Photographs and video footage of Antarctica are available from the BAS Press Office as above.

Format of Media Briefing:
09.30 Arrive and coffee/tea
10.00 Welcome by Director of British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley
10.15 Speech broadcast by Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury
10.25 Presentation by IPY Programme Director, Dave Carlson on IPY
10.45 Presentation by Director of BAS, Professor Chris Rapley on UK's plans including education and public engagement
11.00 Open floor for questions/interviews
11.30 Coffee/tea and time for interviews
12.00 Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS:

For interviews at the Media Briefing contact Athena Dinar or Linda Capper as above.

UK scientists from 20 research organisations and 40 universities with over 120 projects are participating in IPY. Worldwide there are over 400 projects. Some are still being reviewed and a full list will be available by the Summer.

The International Council of Science and the World Meteorological Organisation sponsor International Polar Year. The Royal Society has formed a committee, chaired by Sir John Houghton, to help co-ordinate IPY activities.

Led by Dave Carlson, the IPY Programme Office is based at British Antarctic Survey. BAS' parent body, the Natural Environment Research Council, has invested 5M in an Arctic-IPY Funding Initiative to support several large-scale international consortium projects. Many Arctic science projects include dialogue with the native people to understand how their lives are being affected by the impact of rapid climate change.

International Geophysical year saw the launch of the first earth satellites, established global cooperation that led to today's world weather observation system and stimulated a remarkable public enthusiasm for science. It's success led to the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty in 1961 which designates Antarctica as a continent for peace and science.

British Antarctic Survey is a world leader in research into global issues in an Antarctic context. It is the UK's national operator and is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council. It has an annual budget of around 40 million, runs nine research programmes and operates five research stations, two Royal Research Ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica. More information about the work of the Survey can be found on our website: www.antarctica.ac.uk


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