History since 2003 - today

The year 2007 marks the anniversaries of three international polar years, the 125th of the first polar year of 1882/83, the 75th of the second polar year of 1932/33 and the 50th of the geophysical polar year of 1957/58. All of them were extensive initiatives that led to first significant results about global processes.


Motivation for a new Polar Year

The motivation of the polar year of 2007/08 resulted out of the finding that polar areas represent crucial components of the most complex system earth. Multidisciplinary scientific initiatives are required in order to evaluate the precise role of polar areas for the future development and control mechanisms of global systems and their climatic factors.



In 2003, the International Council for Science (ICSU) assigned an international planning group (ICSU-IPY Planning Group) to collect ideas from the international scientific community in order to prepare a concept for the design of a polar year 2007/08. Furthermore, the ICSU-IPY Planning Group undertook the task to construct a coherent structure that should facilitate the participation in the polaryear 2007/08 for all interested nations and scientists. At the same time, initiatives for the planning of a polar year were prepared within the framework of the World Climate Research Programmes (WCRP), carried by the ICSU, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UNESCO.


During its 88th meeting in February 2004, the International Council for Science  (ICSU) Executive Board decided to promote the Polar Year together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and to establish a joint coordinating committee for Polar Year activities.


Here you can find a detailed planning history of the Polar year.


Within a conceptual framework, the following scientific challenges were outlined:


  • Description of the environmental status quo in the polar regions.

  • Understanding changes of past and present environmental conditions in polar regions, for the purpose of significantly improving prediction abilities.

  • Understanding the global effects of polar regions on climate and the environment

  • Exploration of yet unfamiliar areas in polar regions

  • Utilisation of polar regions for the establishment of observatories in order to improve monitoring of processes affecting the Earth and the solar system
  • Investigation of cultural, historical and social factors determining the  development of peoples native to northern polar regions, and understanding the contribution of those populations to the global community.