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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 ne
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Contact: Athena Dinar
a.dinar@bas.ac.uk
122-322-1414
British Antarctic Survey
9-Mar-2006


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