The concept of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2008 is of an intensive burst of internationally coordinated, interdisciplinary, scientific research and observations focused on the Earth’s Polar Regions. The research will address six themes organized around the environmental status of the Polar Regions and their relationship to change, the links between the poles and the rest of the globe, utilization of the unique features of the regions for science, and the human dimensions of communities in the Polar Regions. IPY will seek to exploit new technological and logistical capabilities, and make major advances in knowledge and understanding. Key objectives are to attract and develop the next generation of polar researchers and engineers, and to engage the interest and involvement of polar residents, and of schoolchildren, the general public, and decision makers, worldwide. The official observing period of IPY 2007–2008 will be from 1 March 2007 until 1 March 2009, under the international oversight of a Joint ICSU-WMO Committee.