Message from UNEP on the polar regions, the polar year and the role of UNEP:
March 2007- The International Polar Year (IPY) is underway. Extending over two years from March 2007 to March 2009, it will be the largest ever international research programme in the polar regions. Its primary focus is on the over-arching issue facing us all—namely climate change and interactions of climate, oceans, ice, land, ecosystems and human society in the Arctic and Antarctic.
UNEP is working to help make IPY a successful global event. UNEP’s special focus during IPY is to increase awareness around the world about polar issues and about the importance of the changes happening in the polar regions.
UNEP has chosen the theme ‘Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?’ for World Environment Day (WED) this year. UNEP will launch an assessment report, the Global Outlook for Ice and Snow, at WED on June 5 in Tromsø, Norway and around the world. This assessment, written by leading scientists from institutes around the world, will present an overview of what is known at the outset of IPY about the current situation with ice and snow and will look at the impacts of the changes going on now and those projected for this century. Arctic sea ice, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, mountain glaciers around the world, trends in snow cover, impacts of rising sea levels – these are a few of the topics covered.
In addition, UNEP is working with several IPY projects and through data and outreach committees to help IPY initiatives to reach global audiences and leave a legacy of increased understanding of the polar regions. UNEP is partnering with the Tara Arctic drift expedition, based on a sailing ship drifting with the pack ice in the Arctic Ocean and used as a base for studying changes in the Arctic sea ice, atmosphere and ocean. The Tara’s scientific programme is part of the European consortium DAMOCLES, a major IPY European programme that involves more than 45 laboratories and institutes around the world.
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