International Polar Year

The International Polar Year (IPY) is a huge, exciting scientific campaign focusing on the Polar Regions. It is also an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate, follow, and get involved with cutting-edge science in real-time.

The IPY "year" actually will extend from March 1, 2007, until March 1, 2009, to allow researchers to conduct two annual observing cycles in each polar region, particularly in the isolated parts that are prohibitively cold and dark for roughly six months of the year.

Polar Bears on ice of the Arctic Ocean

Polar bear and her cubs
Continuing the tradition of international cooperation that began with the first International Polar Year in 1882-1883 (followed by those in 1932-1933 and 1957-1958), IPY was created to push collectively at intellectual frontiers, to explore unseen places, to develop new concepts and theories, and to set the stage for predictions, assessments, recommendations, and future discovery through international collaboration and partnership.

Scheduled to officially begin in March 2007, IPY promises to advance our understanding of how the Earth's remote Polar Regions impact global climate systems, to bring about fundamental advances in many areas of science, and to fire the enthusiasm of young men and women for future careers in science and engineering.

This year's IPY will involve over 200 projects, with thousands of scientists from over 60 nations examining a wide range of physical, biological, and social research topics, focusing on the following five areas: Atmosphere, Ice, Land, Oceans, People and Space.

Visit to learn more about International Polar Year


Download a free IPY Poster!
You can download free posters about IPY.


Check out the IPY Stamp!
The International Polar Year 2007-2008 will be highlighted on a souvenir sheet (available February 22) when scientists around the world will conduct research and field observations to increase understanding of the roles that both Polar Regions play in changing ecosystems, coastal erosion and other phenomena. The sheet features two international rate stamps. One is a marvelous photograph of the aurora borealis. The second is an equally eye-catching photograph of the aurora australis. The souvenir sheet will only be available online at or by calling 1-800-STAMP-24.

Download a high-resolution image of these stamps. IPY Stamp Sheet (JPG, 840KB) >>


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