Second International Polar Year


773_001.jpgThe International Meteorological Organization (the predecessor to the World Meteorological Organization) proposed and promoted the second International Polar Year (1932-1933) as an effort to investigate the global implications of the newly discovered jet stream. The suggestion for this originated from dr. J. Georgi at a meeting in Hamburg on 23 November 1927. The proposal was referred to the International Meteorological Committee (nowadays WMO Executive Committee) president dr. Ewoud van Everdingen (1873-1955).


The reasons for asking IMO to organize a second IPY were that the first IPY was decided by the IMO congress in Rome (1879), one of the principal items of IPY was meteorological observations and the fact that by that time in many countries geomagnetic observations became the work of national meteorological services.


A special commission was set up to prepare a proposal for the IMO Conference of Directors in Copenhagen. This was approved in September 1929 and three months later Van Everdingen could send an 'Outline of the scheme for a Second Polar Year' to all meteorological services and governments. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) joined in.


Members of the second international polar expedition 1932-1933At the first session of the Commission for the Polar Year in Leningrad, August 1930, it was decided that IPY should begin on 1 August 1932 and last for 13 months (the same time as the first IPY in 1882-1883). Some 40 nations participated in the second IPY, which heralded advances in meteorology, atmospheric sciences, geomagnetism, and the 'mapping' of ionospheric phenomena that advanced radio science and technology. Forty permanent observation stations were established in the Arctic, creating a step function expansion in ongoing scientific Arctic research.


The contribution of the United States to IPY also included more stations in the Arctic. In Antarctica the United States contribution was the second Byrd Antarctic expedition, which established a winter-long meteorological station approximately 175 km south of Little America Station on the Ross Ice Shelf at the southern end of Roosevelt Island. This was the first research station inland from Antarctica’s coast.


The contribution of the Netherlands consisted, among others, of aerological observations on Iceland. A number of Fokker D-VII aircraft were sent to Reykjavik. They made 330 flights in 261 days. In 313 flights a height of 5000 m was exceeded. In Angmagssalik on the East-Greenlandic coast research was conducted into geomagnetism. The later Nobel Prize winner Niko Tinbergen (brother of Nobel economist Jan Tinbergen) travelled with the Dutch expedition to Angmagssalik to research the ecology and ethology of polar birds. The photo shows the members of the second international polar expedition 1932-1933 (photo: KNMI/Polygoon).





Union of Soviet Socialist Republics            26 August 1932









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last revised: 4 September 2010