The International Polar Year (2007-10) is the fourth and latest in a series of major international campaigns begun in 1882 intended to advance scientific knowledge of the Polar Regions and to promote international cooperation. The current IPY is special in its new emphasis upon complex interactions between humans and a rapidly changing natural world, and substantial funding has now been made available to promote a better integration of history and social sciences with the natural and physical sciences active in the circumpolar north.
The current IPY takes place in what is clearly a period of dramatic change in the entire region, and many have come to see the polar regions (especially the north) as a global "mine canary" for the impacts of rapid warming. This IPY also takes place as many scholars and disciplines have focused attention on non-linear processes, threshold crossings, catastrophe, surprise, resilience, and problems of sustainability over the long term. Panarchy, resilience frameworks, and human ecodynamics are joining historical ecology as popular buzzwords for interdisciplinary organizations and funding agencies alike. The perceived value of large scale, long term studies crossing the disciplinary borders and pooling talent and resources on an international scale has never been greater, and this has provided the NABO cooperative an opportunity to contribute its decades of experience in international, interdisciplinary collaboration in the north.
NABO members have been very active in IPY on the national and international scale, and major funding has been secured from Danish, Canadian, and US sources for an ambitious effort to continue and expand NABO collaboration with a special NABO IPY Project: Long Term Human Ecodynamics in the Norse North Atlantic: cases of sustainability, survival, and collapse. This project is currently funded at just over US$ 900,000 and will have fieldwork seasons 2008-10 in the Shetlands, Faroes, Iceland, and SW Greenland. A short project summary is available below. A fuller project description (taken from the NABO IPY US National Science Foundation proposal) is also available. A report of the initial working meeting of some of the NABO IPY project managers (hosted by U Edinburgh GeoSciences December 2007) is available as a pdf. The annual project reports and additional working meeting reports will be posted as they become available.
For more information on the IPY effort and its historical context, see the Arctic Consortium of the US (ARCUS) Witness the Arctic Spring 2007 12 (2) (available at www.arcus.org). For the official coordinating center at the International Council for Science and news of IPY events and results see the ICSU website at www.icsu.org.