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Press Release - UK Launch of International Polar Year 2007-2008

Issue date: 26 Feb 2007
Number: 5/2007

21 February 2007 PR No. 5/2007

Embargo: 09.30 (UK time) Monday 26 February 2007

Issued on behalf of the UK International Polar Year National Committee

****Operational Note: Press Conference at 09.30 Mon 26 Feb, at the Royal Society, London

Opportunities to interview leading International Polar Year scientists ****

The event will be webcast at www.royalsociety.org/IPYlive

This week the largest and most ambitious internationally coordinated scientific effort for 50 years kicks off. The UK launch of International Polar Year, one of a series of events around the world, takes place on Monday 26 February 2007, at the Royal Society, London in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal.

Leading scientists will describe how the international scientific community will work together to address the serious global threat of climate change, sea-level rise and the impact these will have on people all over the world. Recent international reports such as the Stern Review and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emphasise the uncertainties regarding the contribution that the polar regions will make to future climate change and sea-level rise. International Polar Year 2007-2008 addresses the urgent need for a global response.

Professor Chris Rapley CBE, Director of British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is one of the architects of International Polar Year. In a video message from Antarctica he says,

‘The change of phase from snow and ice to water is the biggest tipping point in the Earth’s system and so, although the International Polar Year covers a huge range of science, for me the big issue is climate change and the impact that it’s having here. So, over the next two years, I’m looking forward to major progress on key issues, such as ‘How are the ice sheets responding?’ and indeed the trillion dollar question from the point of view of sea-level rise, ‘How much, how quickly?’

The UK has been a leader in polar science and exploration for more than two centuries, and is playing a major role in IPY. Some 65 UK institutions – including 40 universities, research council institutes, government departments, museums and science centres – are taking part in around 120 IPY projects.

Speakers at the UK launch event include: Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society; Dr Eric Wolff, British Antarctic Survey; Dr Corinne Le Quéré, University of East Anglia; Prof Martin Siegert, University of Edinburgh; and Prof Mark Nuttall, University of Alberta, Canada.

Messages of support have come from luminaries including Sir David Attenborough, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Sir Ranulf Fiennes, Sir Menzies Campbell, MP, Sir David King, Baroness Susan Greenfield and Science & Innovation Minister Malcolm Wicks.

IPY is co-sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science (ICSU).

ENDS

Notes for journalists

DATE: Monday, 26 February 2007

TIME: 09:30 Press Conference begins

VENUE: The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London

The Press Conference begins at 09.30 and ends around 10.15. Journalists are welcome to stay for the whole event but must register with the British Antarctic Survey Press Office:

Linda Capper, Tel +44 (0)1223 221448, mob 07714 233744; email L.Capper@bas.ac.uk

Athena Dinar, Tel: 01223 221414, mob: 07740 822229, email: a.dinar@bas.ac.uk

Video messages of support will be available from 26 Feb on: www.antarctica.ac.uk

Abstracts from guest speakers are available from the BAS Press Office

Broadcast quality Antarctic footage and stills are available from the BAS Press Office

Speaker details:

Dr Corinne Le Quéré, lequere@uea.ac.uk

Presentation Title: Polar-global connections

Corinne Le Quéré is reader (associate professor) at the School of Environmental Sciences of the University of East Anglia, and research fellow at the British Antarctic Survey. She is a member of the Global Carbon Project, an international effort to quantify the vulnerability of CO 2 sinks and to assess their potential impact for global climate. She leads an effort to estimate the feedbacks between climate and marine ecosystems, and is involved in an IPY project on Southern Ocean ecosystem dynamics.

Prof Martin Siegert, m.j.siegert@ed.ac.uk

Presentation Title: Exploration at the polar frontiers

Martin Siegert is Professor of Geosciences and Head of the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh. He leads an UK programme to explore Subglacial Lake Ellsworth, a lake buried beneath the ice of Antarctica, and is co-Chair of a programme aiming to comprehend the climate and ice sheet evolution in Antarctica.

Professor Mark Nuttall , mark.nuttall@ualberta.ca

Presentation Title: Human Societies and the Polar Regions

Mark Nuttall holds the Henry Marshall Tory Chair of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, Canada, having previously been Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He is also Academy of Finland Distinguished Professor at the University of Oulu, Finland. During the IPY, he will be involved with projects that seek to understand the trajectories of resource development and Arctic-global connections, including the social impacts of oil and gas development. He is a member of the Canadian Advisory Council to the IPY and of the Government of Canada IPY Science Review Subcommittee (Climate Change and Adaptation). He was a lead author for the Arctic Council’s Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and is a contributing author to the IPCC 4 th Assessment Report. He is author and editor of several books, including the Encyclopedia of the Arctic (Routledge, 2005).

Dr Eric Wolff, ewwo@bas.ac.uk

Presentation Title: Polar ice and the changing planet

Eric Wolff is a Principal Investigator at the British Antarctic Survey. He is co-chair of an IPY project to drill ice cores in the Arctic and Antarctic in order to understand how sensitive climate has been in the past to natural changes in greenhouse gases and other factors; he also co-chairs an IPY project to study how the presence of ice and snow alters the chemistry of the atmosphere.

The UK effort in International Polar Year

One of 30 committees worldwide coordinating, promoting and developing funding initiatives for IPY 2007-2008 the UK IPY national committee is run with financial assistance from the Royal Society.

International Polar Year 2007–2008 addresses the urgent need for clearer understanding of our future climate. Around 50,000 scientists, students and support staff from over 60 nations, are involved in more than 200 Arctic and Antarctic projects designed to shed new light on the impact that the polar regions will have on the global climate system and the consequences for humanity.

The genesis of IPY is simple: three times over the past 125 years, scientists from around the world worked together in a concentrated burst of polar science and exploration. The most recent, the International Geophysical Year of 1957-1958, celebrates its 50 th anniversary in 2007 – an appropriate time to undertake another polar year.

IPY 2007-2008 is organised by the IPY Joint Committee. The IPY International Programme Office is based at British Antarctic Survey and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

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 at: www.antarctica.ac.uk.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funds world-class science in universities and its own research centres that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It is tackling the 21st century's major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. It leads in providing independent research and training in the environmental sciences. Find more at www.nerc.ac.uk.

The UK launch event is one of a series being held around the world. For more information about these and on IPY science projects visit: www.ipy.org