To realize the benefit of the growing number of international satellites to the scientific objectives of the 2007–2008 International Polar Year (IPY), the Global Interagency IPY Polar Snapshot Year (GIIPSY) was established in November 2005 to develop a consensus on polar science requirements and objectives for IPY that could best and perhaps only be met using the Earth-observing satellites. Requirements focused on all aspects of the cryosphere and ranged from sea ice and ice sheets to permafrost and snow cover. Individual topics included how best to develop high-resolution digital elevation models of outlet glaciers using stereo-optical systems, measure ice sheet surface velocity using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), and repeatedly measure sea ice motion using optical and microwave imaging instruments.
Because of this foresight, several IPY science objectives were well met using satellite observations, allowing a wealth of valuable data to be collected on cryospheric processes (Figure 1). Further, the framework for coordinating these remote sensing efforts serves as a valuable model for future coordinated efforts to monitor cryospheric dynamics.