IPY Conference in Oslo Brings Fresh Energy to Polar Research

Conference venu

Credit: Norway Trade Fair
The venue for the International Polar Year Science Conference in Oslo, Norway.


Lisa Clough is the program manager for the Antarctic Integrated System Science program in the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs. She shares her thoughts and experiences from the Oslo Science Conference celebrating the International Polar Year, which was held in June 2010.

The piece appeared in the Antarctic Sun, a newspaper published by the U.S. Antarctic Program, which NSF manages.  

More than 2,300 polar scientists in one place meant this was going to be a conference unlike any other before it, and the International Polar Year (IPY) Oslo Science Conference delivered.

From the opening ceremony festivities — complete with ice instruments and crown princes, through the “polar speed dating” and continuous film showings, right up until the last sidebar meeting — the energy was palpable, and the enthusiasm infectious.

An emphasis on the new was present throughout. An extraordinary effort was made during IPY, as well as at the conference, to include teachers and early-career polar scientists. This was evident in just about every talk.

This truly was an international meeting. While all the talks were in English — we really are very fortunate to have this be the case — walking down the hall I’d say only one third of the discussions were being held in English. The press releases indicated 60-plus countries were represented, and I believe it.

Inclusion was very important. This was the first IPY to specifically include residents of the Arctic in as many aspects of research as possible, and the meeting continued to build on this. The first night reception I attended featured various reindeer foods. Reindeer roast beef — not bad. Reindeer aspic (a savory jelly) — a bit too adventurous for me.

The emphasis on traditional knowledge, coupled with the meeting’s presence in Norway, helps explain the “Arctic” flavor. However, the Antarctic was not forgotten. While most sessions and talks made mention of the Arctic, there were key Antarctic sessions, as well as recognition that both polar regions are fundamentally linked to the Earth’s system.

Read the rest of the story here.

Web Links

The Oslo Science Conference Web Site home page.