The First International Polar Year (1882-1883) set the alarm for the scientific world about the Polar Regions, which remained virgin for science. This marked the preamble for world scientific interest in the knowledge of polar areas. However, both the 6th International Geographical Congress held in London in 1895, which promoted Antarctic scientific research, and later the 7th International Geographical Congress held in Berlin in 1899, paved the way to a major International Antarctic Expedition. This kind of expeditions opened a new stage in the history of Antarctic expeditions, which have continued to grow in number without a break until our days.
International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008
The International Polar Year (IPY) is an initiative intended to foster interdisciplinary research and observations with an international coordination focused on the Earth’s Polar Regions. This is a joint idea of the executive committees of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The objective is the celebration the 50th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year (IGY).
Eco Polar Ushuaia
The Maritime Museum of Ushuaia has an active role in Eco Polar Ushuaia, the most significant event in the southern hemisphere, in association with the chapter on “Education, Awareness, and Communication” related to the International Polar Year 2007-2008. This program aims at creating understanding, awareness and commitment among their participants —politicians, technicians, interest groups and educators at the national level— and educating them in an accurate and convincing way about the relevance of the research that will be carried out around the International Polar Year as strategic information useful for decision making for mid- and long-term planning.
International Geophysical Year (IGY)
Halfway through the 20th century, a most significant world science initiative started to develop. This is a comprehensive scientific cooperation plan designed by experts in meteorology, geomagnetism, auroras, ionosphere, solar activity, cosmic radiation, glaciology, oceanography, data collection by means of satellites and space probes, seismology and gravimetry, and communications and logistics. A special committee set up by the International Council for Science was in charge of the schedule. It was decided that the same observations carried out in previous polar years would be repeated in 1957 and 1958, but this time they would take place in every corner of the Earth. Preliminary conferences took place in Rome, Paris, Brussels and Barcelona in 1954 and 1956. This gave birth to the International Geophysical Year that started coordinated international cooperation for research in the southern polar ice cap, whose political crowning was the Antarctic Treaty.
The IGY started Antarctic activities in early 1957, though officially the day set wa July, 1st, and it ended on December 31st, 1958. During that period, 55 observatories operated in Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic Islands. Among them were Argentina's observatories as well as Chilean and British observatories that were already in operation. The following countries took part in the activities developed in the southern region of our planet — Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United Status, and the USSR. All of these countries made up the Special Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and, after the IGY, they subscribed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959.
Over 60 countries and 30,000 scientists took part in this scientific enterprise around the world, with research and studies taking place in various observatory stations.
One of the main contributions of the IGY in Antarctica was the finding that below the vast ice and snow cap, this continent is split into islands, one of them being the Antarctic Peninsula. As regards south polar meteorology, the first census took place and this favored the understanding of the incidence of Antarctic climate in the Southern Hemisphere.