Exploring polar regions, understanding climate

When more than 50,000 scientists, working in the remotest areas of the world unite, it is an important event, that demands attention all over the world. More than 60 nations are joining forces, with research into ice and snow, in order to investigate climate. On 1 March, a wave of opening ceremonies will take place around the world: from Japan and Australia, through to China, and Europe to Brazil. In Germany, the opening of the International Polar Year on March 1 will be celebrated in Berlin. Not only will the most important research projects be presented, together with a live transmission from the Arctic, the winner of the youth painting competition on the theme "Childrens impressions of polar regions of the earth" will be announced.

Our greatest challenge is to understand the earth and climatic systems. The Polar regions play a key role in this understanding, and ecological and economic impacts of climate change can already be clearly seen. The melting of ice-masses in the Arctic has forced indigenous peoples and animals to alter their normal way of life. Polar bears find fewer ice floes and reindeer herds belonging to nomadic people, sink into mud. However, new sea routes that up till now have been blocked by ice are also opening up. The International Polar Year 2007/08 comes at a time when discussion over climate change is both topical in the media, and at the forefront of peoples minds. The recently published world climate report, published by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) shows once more that climate has been altered dramatically. In the words of Prof. Dr. Reinhard Dietrich (President of the German Commission for the International Polar Year) "Now that one of the largest international research campaigns in our Polar regions is about to begin, it is a once in a lifetime chance. It is only when we understand global climate that we can make good predictions, and thus prepare for possible changes"


Contact: Angelika Dummermuth
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

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