European launch of International Polar Year 2007-2008

February 25, 2007

(Strasbourg, France 26th February, 2007) -- The European launch of International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 marks the commencement of the largest and most ambitious internationally-coordinated scientific effort for half a century.

Policy makers and leading scientists from various fields are gathering at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to discuss how the international scientific community will work together during IPY, to address the serious global threat of climate change, and explain why polar science is crucial to understanding how our world works.

"The polar regions are vital arenas for science, foreign policy, trade, energy and security," said Professor Carlo-Alberto Ricci, Chairman of the European Polar Board, at the launch event, which is funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF). "International Polar Year is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Europe to deepen and broaden international partnerships and create trust and mutual understanding through political and scientific dialogue."

Europe is playing a leading role in IPY, which involves around 50,000 people from more than 60 nations. The continent has invested more than €200 million in most of IPY's 228 projects, and is contributing in research fields ranging from marine, space, and environmental sciences to medicine, humanities and social sciences. During IPY, European researchers will seek answers to some of the most important scientific questions facing our planet and set the agenda for future polar science.

According to Dr John Marks, Director of Science and Strategy at the ESF: "The strong European contribution to International Polar Year is an outstanding example of how countries can work together in pursuit of extraordinary political, scientific and social outcomes that will be crucial for the next generation."

At a time when climate change is being debated at the highest political levels, and its social and economic effects are being felt in many European countries, polar research has never been more important - or more relevant - to Europe and its citizens.

As well as heralding a new era of polar research, IPY will - through dozens of education and outreach projects - inspire a new generation of young scientists and engage the public in genuine dialogue about polar science, climate change and the future of the planet

Other speakers at the European launch event include: Dr David Carlson, Director of the IPY International Programme Office: Dr Artur Chilingarov, Deputy Chairman, State Duma of the Russian Federation; Dr Einar-Arne Herland, Head of Science Strategy, Coordination and Planning Office, European Space Agency and a representative of the of the Climate Unit of the European Commission.
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European Launch of International Polar Year 2007-2008

Embargo: 08:30 GMT Monday 26 February 2007 Issued by the European Science Foundation's European Polar Board

**** Operational Note: Launch event begins at 09:30 - Opportunities to interview leading International Polar Year scientists and European science policy makers ****

IPY is a programme of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council for Science (ICSU) and is sponsored by several international organisations, including the European Polar Board.

Notes for journalists
DATE: Monday, 26 February 2007
TIME: 09:30
VENUE: European Parliament, Strasbourg, France

For further information contact:
Thomas Lau, tel: +33 (0)3 88 76 21 58, mobile: +33 (0) 678267756; email tlau@esf.org
Becky Allen, tel: +44 (0)1223 221327, mobile: + 44 (0)7949 804317, email: b.allen@bas.ac.uk
Paul Egerton, mobile: +33 6 07 18 73 10

Europe and International Polar Year

1. Established in 1995, the European Polar Board is the European Science Foundation's expert committee on science policy in the polar regions. It acts as a voice and facilitator of cooperation between European national funding agencies, national polar institutes and research organisations.

2. The European Science Foundation (ESF), with offices in Strasbourg and Brussels, is the European association of 75 major national research funding and performing organisations and academies in 30 countries devoted to excellence in scientific research. For more information, visit: www.esf.org

3. Including the Russian Federation, the European member countries of the EPB operate 25 Antarctic research stations, 22 Arctic research stations, 31 research vessels and 26 aircraft engaged in supporting science in the polar regions.

4. International Polar Year 2007-2008 includes more than 200 Arctic and Antarctic projects and harnesses the skills of 50,000 people - including scientists, students and support staff - from more than 60 nations. IPY is sponsored by the International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organization.

5. The European launch event is one of a series being held around the world. For more information about these and IPY science projects visit: www.ipy.org

European Science Foundation

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