The IPY is here!

The IPY is here!

Top image: The 7th graders at Longyearbyen school and artist Olaf Storø in front of one of the ice sculptures they have made to the opening of the International Polar Year (IPY). Photo: Eva Therese Jenssen/UNIS.

UNIS celebrated the opening of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-08 from early morning until late evening, with seminars, speeches and artwork.

1 March 2007
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen

Today the whole world celebrated the beginning of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-08. At UNIS the celebrations started already in the morning with seminars about some of the IPY projects that will take place in Svalbard, among them the 6 UNIS-IPY projects.

The IPY was officially opened world-wide in Paris at 11 GMT. In Longyearbyen IPY was opened at 11.30 by the director of UNIS, Gunnar Sand and the Governor of Svalbard, Per Sefland. Among the audience were also the General Director of Trust Arktikugol, Mr. Aleksandr Veselov; the Consul of the Russian Federation on Spitsbergen, Mr. Vjatsjeslav Nikolajev; and the Mine Director in Barentsburg, Mr. Boris I. Nagajuk.

– The IPY is given high political priority. Politicians rely on sound scientific advice when making important decisions about our common future, Governor Sefland said.

– The Polar Regions and polar research is important to all people on Earth, UNIS director Gunnar Sand said.

– The IPY is not only a polar year for research, but also a year for communication of polar research results, he said, referring to the IPY Arctic Gateway office that UNIS has established, as part of the IPY communication goals.

Ice sculptures
Afterwards all students, staff and all the school pupils from the Longyearbyen School gathered outside to unveil the Longyearbyen IPY sculptures.

The 7th graders at the Longyearbyen School have, together with local artist Olaf Storø, made magnificent ice sculptures. Allied with water, snow, color powder and milk cartons the children had made ice bricks that they used to build two ice sculptures in front of the entrance to Svalbard Science Centre.

One of the sculptures, in bright pink and green ice bricks, is an old boat – maybe a homage to previous IPYs where means of transportation were quite different than today. The other ice sculpture is a cathedral window with a heart in the window sill. “Greatest of all is love” is the name of the sculpture, reminding us that IPY is not only about measurements and data, but also about people living in the Polar Regions.

After the sculptures were unveiled and appraised, the Norwegian Polar Institute invited all to a cup of hot chocolate. In the afternoon the IPY project presentations continued and the evening program included an historic overview of previous IPY, the importance of IPY for future research on Svalbard, and the presentation of the official Longyearbyen IPY artwork by artist Olaf Storø.

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