International Polar Day – Above the Poles

Photo: Chris Danals

Photo: Chris Danals

Today is the seventh quarterly International Polar Day of the International Polar Year! Today’s theme is “Above the Poles” with a focus on polar meteorology, atmospheric sciences, astronomy, and polar observations from space.

To celebrate today’s theme, there are a number of activities happening around the world.

Here is how you can participate:

Polar Atmosphere Activities:

Weather Observation Activity: Observe the weather today, where you live, and record air temperature, rain, wind, visibility and cloudiness.
– read more about launching a weather balloon in Antarctica
– read more about cloud types and observations (thanks to GLOBE)
download Weather Observation Activity in many languages here

Understanding changes in Ice: A GLOBE Seasons and Biomes Activity developed by Dr Leslie Gordon.
View into Space Activities:

Auroras: Aurora Observing Guide and Classroom Activity (thanks to Lars Poort)

Neutrinos in Antarctica and the AMANDA Project (This link will take you to the IceCube activity webpage)
View from Space Activities:

The IPY Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA) project has been completed and its stunning result is freely available. Explore LIMA with NASA Quest, free Web-based, interactive explorations designed to engage students in authentic scientific and engineering processes.
Classroom activities can be found on in the Antarctic mysteries link, then under the subsections of “Is the Ice Moving”.

IPY in Google Earth: To facilitate awareness and understanding between scientists, politicians, educators, the media and the public, we have created an International Polar Year layer for Google Earth. The aim for this layer is that it will evolve to reflect the latest science results contributed by IPY scientists.

European Space Agency (ESA) Teachers – includes a full list of ESA Educational materials including astronomy exercises and weather classroom tools.

Visualizing Data”: Exploring Mosaic of Antarctica satellite data

Above The Poles: Live Events

There will be two Live Events on December 4th connecting polar researchers to classes and individuals around the world… and also to Antarctica!

Joining these events is simple: you just need a computer with internet, speakers, and a microphone [optional]; or a telephone. During the event, participants of all ages are encouraged to ask questions, via voice or text chat, of experts in polar atmospheric science, meteorology, astronomy, and polar observing systems.

The events last about an hour, and allow lots of opportunity to ask questions. In fact, it’s all about interaction and dialogue! The events are open to a broad audience, from primary school students through to high school scholars, teachers, undergraduates, and interested public. We also welcome english language classes. The broader the audience, the more interesting the event!

We encourage classes joining the events to research the topics beforehand, and maybe prepare some questions. Please browse these pages for background information, and learn about the scientists joining these events .

These events occur in conjunction with the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

European Event

Download Flyer (PDF)


– click on above link
– on left hand side menu click on “Public Recordings”
– follow the promts, ie type in email
– quickest viewing option is to playback from server but you can also download.

This recording is not edited at all.

December 4th, UTC 1000 corresponds to:
Alaska 0100, NYC 0500, Chile 0700, Sao Paolo 0800, UK 1000, Europe 1100, Cape Town 1200, Moscow 1300, India 1430, China 1800, Sydney 2100, NZ 2300.

Hosted by: Liz Murphy Global Media

Topics: Looking Up; Weather, Atmosphere, and Space
Explore the regions above the snow in Antarctica and the Arctic. We will connect live to a meteorologist in Antarctica, atmospheric scientists in the UK, and astronomers. We will also connect to classes gathered at the Scott Polar Research Institute in the UK.

How to Participate: Contact Rhian Salmon to join this event, or for more information.
If participating, please download these Participant Instructions to test the software and familiarise yourself with the system a few days before the event.


Live To The Poles
Ags Fryckowska, Meteorological Observers, LIVE FROM ANTARCTICA

Weather and Atmosphere:
Helen Atkinson, Polar Atmospheric Chemist
Eric Wolff, Polar Atmosphere and Climate Expert

Astronomy and Observations:
Michael Burton, Polar Astronomer
Pedro Russo, International Year of Astronomy
Mark Drinkwater, GIIPSY [Global Inter-Agency IPY Polar Snapshot Year]

Americas Event

December 4th, UTC 1900 corresponds to:
Alaska 1000, CA 1100, Chicago 1300, NYC 1400, Chile 1600, Sao Paulo 1700, UK 1900, Europe 2000, Sydney 0600, NZ 0800

Hosted by: Polartrec Live from IPY

Topics: Looking Out and In; Observations of, and from, the Polar Regions
Explore Polar Astronomy and observations made from the Polar Regions, as well as the View from Space, publicly available satellite images, and ways we can use these to learn about the polar regions. There will also be a live connection to South Pole Station, Antarctica.

How to Participate: Contact to join this event or for more information.
Register here now!


View From Space:
Ken Jezek, GIIPSY [Global Inter-Agency IPY Polar Snapshot Year]
Bob Bindschadler, LIMA [Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica]

View Into Space:
Darryn Schneider, IceCube [Neutrino Observatory] LIVE FROM ANTARCTICA
International Year of Astronomy


This page (above) shows images looking out from the polar regions,- starting with cumulous clouds, then looking through the ionosphere at auroras, and beyond our atmosphere at a galactic stellar nursery. The final image was acquired by satellites looking down on Antarctica. Before joining the event, learn more about these images and ideas on the following pages:

Above The Poles: Home
Polar Atmosphere
View into Space
View from Space

or try some Educational Activities, including launching your own virtual weather balloon. You might also want to prepare some questions before the event.

If you have any questions about today’s International Polar Day, you can contact Rhian Salmon or Kristi Skebo

Photo: Chris Michel

Photo: Chris Michel

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This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.