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Oslo: Polar vision meets Eurovision

International Polar Year science conference kicks off in Oslo

It seems that the organizers of the International Polar Year Oslo Science Conference were inspired by the city’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest just a couple of weeks ago. Delegates at the opening ceremony this morning were greeted by Norwegian teens dressed in snowsuits singing, playing the drums and issuing apparent cries for help through a frozen trumpet as the first number ended with the sound of melting water and cracking ice. Interspersed between the musical entertainment, which included Norwegian Eurovision host Haddy N’jie and culminated with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Heal The World, were more serious messages about International Polar Year. This vast international collaboration brought more than 50,000 scientists from 60 countries together to work on 160 projects over the course of 30 months; more than 2000 researchers are now in Oslo to share their findings in the largest-ever gathering of the polar-science community.

Russian scientist Artur Chilingarov, who planted a Russian flag beneath the North Pole in 2007, announced at the ceremony that he is lobbying for an International Polar Decade to start in 2011. David Carlson, director of the International Polar Year International Programme Office, told environmentalresearchweb that he believes this move is a compliment to International Polar Year and indicates that scientists think it’s worked well. He is less keen on the concept of a decade, however, as it is both too long and too short a time period. International Polar Year was sold to funding bodies as an intense 30-month research push, so in this sense 10 years is overly long but polar research will be vital over more than the next decade. Indeed, there is still much analysis to carry out from the data collected during International Polar Year.

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