Saturday, March 10, 2007

International Polar Year 2007-2008: My once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

On March 2, while listening to Science Friday on National Public Radio, I heard about the International Polar Year for the first time. How could I have missed this? Easy answer: the last comprehensive study of the poles, then called the International Geophysical Year occurred in 1957-1958, when I was seventeen and not paying much attention to what was going on in the world.

The International Geophysical Year was modeled on two previous International Polar Years, 1882-1883 and 1932-33. The stakes are much higher now, because of global warming, which is happening faster at the poles than anywhere on the planet.

On the program, the host, Ira Flatow, interviewed the following scientists:

Dr. Mary Albert, past chair of the U.S. National Committee for the International Polar Year [hereafter IPY], senior research engineer at the U.S. Army’s Cold Region Research and Engineering Lab, and professor of engineering at Dartmouth;

Dr. Jody Deming, a member of the U.S. National Committee for the IPY and professor of biology, oceanography and astrobiology at the University of Washington.

Two women! When I heard Dr. Albert say in reference to the IPY, “So we would love to have a giant campaign of reaching out to students of all ages…people in the community and senior citizens,” I visualized myself on an ice cutter like the one in the accompanying photo, heading for one of the poles.

I immediately e-mailed the U.S. National Committee for the IPY and volunteered to go to either pole and help. I described my willingness to mediate any disputes among the participants. After all, I’ve been a mediator since 1982. I can’t imagine that a bunch of scientists working closely in an extreme environment wouldn’t need a mediator sooner or later. I also volunteered to gather/organize ice samples, cook, clean, and give back rubs.

A week has gone by, and I haven’t heard from anyone yet that they would love to have me along. But I’m not giving up!

The interview can be heard here. The transcript, which costs $3.95, can be ordered
here. The official IPY site is here.

I plan to post updates on the IPY, unless of course, I’m on an ice cutter on my way to a pole!


Kaimor said...
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Pat said...

You would be a welcome addition to any group, polar or otherwise!

Anonymous said...

I agree with pat. Now that I know about IPY, you would be a perfect fit. Don't give up just yet.