International Polar Year
The concept of the International Polar Year is of an international programme of coordinated, interdisciplinary scientific research and observations in the Earths polar regions to explore new scientific frontiers, to deepen our understanding of polar processes and their global linkages, to increase our ability to detect changes, to attract and develop the next generation of polar scientists, engineers and logistics experts, and to capture the interest of schoolchildren, the public and decision-makers. The official period of the IPY will be from March 2007 until March 2009 to allow observations during all seasons, and the possibility of two summer field seasons, in each polar region. The geographic focus will extend over latitudes from approximately 60 deg to the pole, both north and south.The IPY will include a broad range of activities organized around a select number of scientific themes.
Near-earth space, the domain of space weather, is an integral part of the Earth system, providing one of several links between the Sun and Earth. Many of the complex processes permeating space link directly back to the high latitudes, making studies of the high latitude ionosphere fundamentally important and its ongoing variability intrinsically interesting.
During the International Geophysical Year (IGY), 1957 58, two major tasks were undertaken by IPS:
- maps of the F-region of the Antarctic ionosphere were produced for the IGY period,
- a short-term warning centre was established to provide forecasts of solar and geomagnetic activity for the forthcoming 24 hours. The Australian Space Forecast Centre (ASFC) arose from this early venture.
In part, the International Polar Year (IPY) will commemorate the resounding successes of the IGY, which took place fifty years ago. Many of todays scientists can remember the IGY launching their careers, or maybe more important stimulating their imaginations while they were still at school. IPS has joined with other international groups under the umbrella of ICESTAR (Interhemispheric Conjugacy Effects in Solar-Terrestrial and Aeronomy Research) to collect, archive and distribute observations and reports on the Antarctic ionosphere.