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The International Polar Year, 2007–2008, An Opportunity to Focus on Infectious Diseases in Arctic Regions
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    On 3 occasions over the past 125 years, scientists from around the world have worked together to organize scientific and exploration activities in polar regions (www.ipy.org). The first International Polar Year (IPY) in 1881-1884 marked the first major coordinated international scientific initiative to collect standardized meteorological and geophysical data in polar regions. Fifteen expeditions led by 12 nations amassed a large amount of data, but the scientific value was diminished by disjointed publication efforts and lack of long-term institutional commitment; lessons were learned and corrected in subsequent polar years. The second IPY began in 1932. Forty-four nations led expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic, resulting in greater understanding of the aurora, magnetism, and meteorology. Air and marine navigation, radio operations, and weather forecasting were greatly improved as a result. The third IPY, in 1957-58, was renamed the International Geophysical Year and capitalized on technologic advances developed during World War II. Technologic and scientific momentum was redirected toward research, particularly to studies of the upper atmosphere, a legacy that continues to the present day. Notable achievements included launching the first satellite, measurement of atmospheric greenhouse gases, delineating the system of mid-ocean ridges, and confirming the theory of plate tectonics.

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