Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

FIGURE 10 Top: SALE-UNITED. Location of subglacial lakes (from M. Studinger, Bottom: Traverse vehicles for U.S.–Norwegian traverse of the Recovery Lakes (from Norwegian Polar Institute).

break-up of Gondwana and the subsequent formation of the ocean gateways between continental fragments. Both AGAP and POLENET will contribute to resolving the history of extension in the Ross Sea, while controls on Transantarctic Mountains uplift will be elucidated by both Plates and Gates and ANDRILL. The origin, history, and stability of the Antarctic ice sheets will be addressed by all these projects.


As of this writing we are still at an early stage of the IPY 2007-2008, less than six months after the official opening in Paris and around the globe on March 1, 2007. Since the identification of funding for national components of IPY 2007-2008–approved projects is still ongoing in many countries, it remains difficult to fathom the full breadth of the IPY 2007-2008. But several hundred million dollars of new money for polar science is already available, and more is likely.

Even at this early stage it is useful to consider the pitfalls that other IPYs have encountered that prevented them from realizing their full potential. The results of the first IPY were never fully realized because each nation worked to publish their data individually. The data were not openly shared, and long-term collaboration between nations did not materialize. In our more electronically connected world there is little excuse for data not to be openly shared and deposited in the appropriate data repository so that future generations can make use of this precious resource.

Building collaborations within a discipline is simple. The challenge for this IPY 2007-2008 is to establish long-lasting, effective working relationships across disciplines. Many of the projects contain the seeds of these difficult multidisciplinary relationships, whether between modelers and field scientists or between biologists and geophysicists. These interactions must be fostered and developed. Collaborations built on shared data and shared passions in Earth systems are essential. Interdisciplinary science is difficult, but it will be the only way Earth science will remain relevant to society, and it is the only way to gain the full return from our investment. True, open interdisciplinary collaboration will serve to advance our understanding of the poles and the role they play in our planetary system.

TABLE 2 Five Major Antarctic Geophysical Events Targeted by IPY 2007-2008 Programs

Major Event

Formation of East Antarctic Craton

Breakup of Gondwana

Extension of the Ross Sea

Uplift of the Transantarctic Mountains

Origin, History, Status, Stability of Antarctic Ice Sheets

IPY 2007-2008 Programs


Plates and Gates


ANDRILL, Plates and Gates


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement