The International Polar Year (or IPY) is a collaborative, international effort researching the polar regions. Karl Weyprecht, an Austro-Hungarian naval officer, motivated the endeavor, but died before it first occurred in 1882-1883. Fifty years later (1932-1933) a second IPY occurred. The International Geophysical Year was inspired by the IPY and occurred 75 years after the first IPY (1957-58).
The third International Polar Year has ended, having begun in 2007, and continued until 2009. It is being sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU) the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The chair of the International Planning Group established within the ICSU for this event is chaired by Professor Chris Rapley and Dr. Robin Bell. The Director of the IPY International Programme Office is Dr David Carlson.
The latest IPY brought about the most ambitious Arctic climate change research project ever undertaken in Canada, a $150-million (CAD) research program called the Circumpolar Flaw Lead (CFL) System Study. Led by University of Manitoba Professor David Barber, a Canada Research Chair, the project involved more than 300 scientists from 16 countries, including over 40 faculty members, research associates, graduate students, technicians and support staff from the University of Manitoba.
Based aboard the research icebreaker, CCGS Amundsen, the CFL project examined the “flaw lead” system, a circumpolar phenomenon created when the central Arctic ice pack moves away from coastal ice, leaving areas of open water. CFL scientists are working closely with northern residents to understand how global climate change is affecting the nature of the flaw lead system in the Northern Hemisphere, and how it is expected to impact the circumpolar Arctic in the coming years. The project involved over-wintering the Amundsen in the Banks Island flaw lead in the Southern Beaufort Sea, the first time this has ever been done.