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International Polar Year issues on the way

Global warming has been grabbing the headlines recently. Scientists have been enunciating that such occurrences have been responsible for much of our changing weather patterns throughout the world -- including ever-changing ecosystems, coastal erosion and other phenomena.

I reported earlier this year that the U.S. Postal Service will be issuing two new stamps in February commemorating the The International Polar Year (2007-2008). Here is the interesting information supplied by the USPS.

A souvenir sheet of two 84-cent international rate stamps will be released Feb. 27. One stamp features a photo of the aurora borealis and the other shows a photo of the aurora australis.

The photo of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, was made by Fred Hirschmann of Wasilla, Alaska. The photo of the aurora australis, a phenomenon of the southern polar region, was made by Per-Andre Hoffmann of Stuttgart, Germany.

The tradition of international cooperation began with the first International Polar Year in 1882-1883. The scientists conduct field observations, research and analysis to build upon current knowledge and increase our understanding of the roles that both polar regions play in global processes.

Twelve countries participated in the first international polar year. Their work involved laboring under dangerous Arctic conditions and thus set a precedent for all international scientific cooperation. Approximately 40 countries participated in the second international polar year in 1932-1933.

In 1957-1958 there were 67 involved in these scientific observations.

The International Polar Year will take place from March 2007 through March 2009 to ensure that researchers can work in both polar regions during two full seasons.

In 1958 the Postal Service issued a 3-cent stamp to hail the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.

The International Polar Year 2007-2008 souvenir sheet will be released as part of a booklet of similar sheets jointly issued by eight countries -- the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. The U.S. sheet will also be available separately through the USPS Fulfillment Services as well as the pane of twenty.

The souvenir sheet will only be available online at www.usps.com/shop or by calling 1-800-STAMP 24. All orders will excepted beginning Feb.1.

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