About the International Polar Initiative (IPI)The Polar Regions of the world are undergoing a range of fast and dramatic transformations, as demonstrated by the 2012 record minimum in Arctic sea-ice extent and the collapse of ice-shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula. The changes seen in the Polar Regions will have significant global impacts both on the environment and on society. The Polar Regions remain the largest observational data voids on the planet. We do not fully understand the complex interlinked processes governing the changes and variability observed and, as a result, predictions and projections for the Polar Regions tend to be characterized by significant biases and uncertainties compared with the rest of the globe.
Previous research, assessments, and experience of exploration and fieldwork, including the significant outcomes of the recent International Polar Year 2007-2008 (IPY), provide a basis for addressing these challenges. However, there is a need for a “behavioral” change in polar activities. The relative scarcity of available resources requires a highly coordinated, efficient, targeted, and systematic approach to planning and executing polar activities. Working together, coordinating efforts and sharing resources would make it possible to set ambitious goals for polar activities such as eventual implementation of an operational sustainable and comprehensive polar observing system. Such a system would significantly enhance our ability to predict polar weather, climate, hydrological and environmental conditions, to track human development trends in the polar regions, to enable adaptation to and facilitate mitigation of climate change, and to contribute to the protection and, when applicable, sustainable development, of the Polar Regions and of the planet as a whole.
To effectively address the challenges and efficiently use available resources, a new and novel framework for long-term cooperation between stakeholders with a mandate and interest in the Polar Regions, entitled the “International Polar Initiative” (IPI), has been proposed.