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UK Launch of International Polar Year 2007-2008

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).

Athena Dinar | alfa
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