Today is the launch of the International Polar Year (IPY ; official website). This will be the occasion for scientists all over the world to study more carefully the poles and their specificities. This event takes place every fifty years and the previous edition, in 1957-58, led to a better understanding of the poles and the establishment of several polar bases.
During the next twelve months, 209 projects will be launched in order to get new data on these regions. Among these projects, an ambitious one is led by a French former Medical Doctor who is now an explorer, Jean Louis Etienne. His mission will be to fly over the North pole to measure the thickness of the sea ice. This project will require to fly over 10.000 kilometres and will last one full year.
It appears with the various data we have on climate change that the poles are getting hotter twice faster as the rest of Earth. Climate change, or more precisely global warming are a huge threat to these places. I sincerely hope that this scientific event will help in making climate change an important topic in people’s minds worldwide and will lead to action.
It can be interesting to note that Antartica holds 20 percent of the oil reserves of the world (source). This fact leads to an increased threat as some countries like Norway or the United States are willing to extract the oil found in polar regions like the Barents sea or Alaska.