International Polar Year, or IPY (2007-2009) is by far the most exciting international scientific and educational opportunity of this century. For the next two years, all eyes will be focused on the physical, social and human dimensions of our planet's polar regions. Watch this blog for news related to Canadian outreach and education efforts related to IPY. Of particular interest to educators! Note: This blog is created independently of any official IPY organization

Thursday, January 14, 2010

FW: IPY items of interest

From: Bob Van Dijken []
Thursday, January 14, 2010 1:13 PM
Cc: Sarah Kalhok; Barrie Ford; Mero, Alana; Shirley, Jamal
Subject: IPY items of interest


1.       As part of the federal IPY training, communications and outreach initiative, Global Television was funded to put together a number of one minute vignettes on Canadian IPY projects.  Some of you may have seen these aired from time to time last year.  These vignettes are now available to be viewed online at:


2.       The January/February 2010 issue of Canadian Geographic is now available.  It is a special Arctic IPY issue that contains a number of articles about IPY research in the North, including “an intimate portrayal of life at the Yukon’s Kluane Lake Research Station”. The Canadian Geographic website: has extended web content on IPY including photo essays, videos and interactive features. 


3.       The Royal Canadian Geographic Society has unveiled an IPY section to its online Canadian atlas.”To discover the breadth of the IPY scientific research and enquiry, Canadian Geographic has created an interactive map that locates, describes and illustrates more than 50 IPY projects across Canada’s North, with topics ranging from sea ice to permafrost, arctic char to polar bears, and ancient civilizations to contemporary Inuit health.” You can view the map at


4.       The last in a series of polar days and polar weeks will take place from March 15 to 19. Coordinated by the International Program Office, the theme for the week is  What Happens at the Poles Affects Us All.  “March Polar Week will be an opportunity for researchers, educators, early career scientists, and students from across the globe to celebrate the partnerships, outreach, and scientific outcomes IPY has enabled regionally, nationally and internationally. It will also provide the IPY community with a chance to generate excitement as they prepare for the IPY Oslo Science Conference June 8-12, 2010.”  More information on Polar Week will become available as we get closer to the event at:


5.       Canada's Arctic researchers call for polar policy

By John Bowman, CBC News

Canada needs a national polar policy and better research co-ordination to effectively monitor the changing northern climate, says a Canadian Arctic researcher.

John England of the University of Alberta, writing in the journal Nature this week, said Canadian scientists are finding it more difficult to get to remote Arctic regions to conduct their research.


"The capacity to support researchers in remote field sites has plummeted, making it difficult for Canadian researchers to continue crucial monitoring of the fast-changing Arctic environment, from receding glaciers to disappearing polar bear habitat," wrote England.


Compounding the problem, said England, is the fact that funding for travel and support from the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP) isn't tied to research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).


"The PCSP allocates its logistical resources separately from, and often in contradiction to, the resource needs of peer-reviewed NSERC grants. This lack of co-ordination threatens long-established monitoring programmes," said England.


PCSP also oversees safety for researchers in remote camps.


"If a severe storm destroys tents, or a camp is threatened by a polar bear, the PCSP comes to the rescue," said England.


Lack of co-ordination a problem

Steven Bigras, executive director of the Canadian Polar Commission, agrees that the lack of co-ordination is a problem.


"[England] says there's a bit of a disconnect there between NSERC funding the research and then you have to follow up with Continental Shelf to ensure you have the logistical support to get to the field stations. If one says 'yes' and the other one says 'no,' it really doesn't help the overall effort," said Bigras.

As well, England said budget cuts and increasing fuels costs "have rapidly eroded the PCSP's ability to fulfil its mission."


England praises Canada for funding Arctic research in the amount of $156 million during the International Polar Year from 2007 to 2009, but said that the future of research after that funding runs out "does not look as bright."


"We've had two wonderful years of well-funded research in the Arctic," said Bigras. "This sudden splurge of research going on, and all these young people getting interested in the research."


England wrote that the increasing costs have put Arctic research out of the reach of many Canadian researchers, "many of whom now talk openly about shifting their research attentions to something that can be studied farther south."


England said that part of the solution lies in creating a national polar policy, " which would commit Canada to clear objectives and better co-ordinate research activities."


"If you have a policy, you have priorities and you fund those priorities," said Bigras. "[Currently], we have a set of projects out there and they're all priorities during the International Polar Year, but what happens to them after that?"



Bob Van Dijken

Yukon IPY Coordination Office

Council of Yukon First Nations

2166 - 2nd Avenue

Whitehorse, Yukon

Y1A 4P1

telephone: (867) 393-9237

fax: (867) 668-6577


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