2-Year Study of Polar Changes Set to Begin

Scientists from more than 60 countries are preparing to fan out around the North and South Poles in an ambitious two-year effort to understand the vital, shifting dynamics of ice, oceans and life at the ends of the earth, according to a New York Times article.

With a budget of about $350 million spread over more than 120 projects, researchers will camp on drifting Arctic Ocean sea ice and trek to largely uncharted Antarctic mountains.

They will use gliding underwater robots, giant icebreaking ships, satellites and other technologies to explore polar climate, biology, geology and ocean chemistry, and they will undertake physics and astronomy studies that can be done only at the poles.

A central goal of the effort — called the International Polar Year despite its two-year timetable — is to clarify the role of greenhouse gases and global warming in the rapid changes that are already occurring at both poles.

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