The Arctic is not a barren, frozen wasteland. It’s home to some of the most unique ecosystems in the world. More than this: it’s home to people. Those people are at the center of the controversy over drilling for oil in the Arctic. The Trump administration is now starting the formal process of selling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil companies, according to the New York Times. The move comes after the Trump administration opened the refuge for oil drilling in August 2020. There are potentially billions of dollars in untapped oil and gas reserves in the Arctic. But, there is value in keeping the region untouched, too. The Arctic provides more than $281 billion per year in fishing, oil, mineral extraction, tourism and climate stabilization services, according to a preliminary assessment done in 2016 by environmental economist Tanya O’Garra, who worked at the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University at the time the research was conducted.
First up, host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Adrian Cho about new gravitational wave detections from the first half of 2019—including 37 new black hole mergers. With so many mergers now recorded, astrophysicists can do different kinds of research into things like how new pairs of black holes come to be and how often they merge.
Sarah also talks with Sarah Davidson, data curator at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, about results from an Arctic animal tracking project that includes 3 decades of location information on many species, from soaring golden eagles to baby caribou taking their first steps. The early results from the Arctic Animal Movement Archive show that researchers can use the database as a baseline for future Arctic investigations and to examine the effects of climate on ecosystems in this key region.
On Sept. 15, 2020, Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent — the second-lowest on record. This summer, temperatures soared in the Siberian Arctic, and intense fires burned through peatland. The Arctic region is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet.
“Under Thin Ice”. World Premiere at the 2020 WCFF. Natalie Dubois, Producer and Denis Blaquiere, Director.
The Arctic is a majestic world, home to wildlife rarely seen in the south: bowhead whales, polar bears, narwhals, walrus, seals, zooplankton, algae. At the end of each spring, after long months of darkness, the sun shines for 24 hours a day and all living species gather at the floe edge — where ice meets open ocean — for a feeding frenzy. But global warming is threatening this ecosystem. Temperatures are rising and the ice sheet is melting at an alarming rate. In the last 40 years, more than 75% of the summer ice cover has disappeared.
Diving with whales, walruses and polar bears, Jill and Mario bring viewers into a majestic underwater world trying to adapt to ice loss and climate change. Viewers will travel on ice floes with Jill and Mario to Tallurutiup Imanga (also known as Lancaster Sound) in Nunavut, Canada, where they will dive with belugas and narwhals in the open Arctic Ocean. They will follow them to Greenland’s Disko Bay to explore the underside of icebergs and discover the luminescent world of algae. Back to Canada in the Naujaat region, they will swim with walruses and polar bears, the supreme predators of the Arctic. Filmed in stunning 4K, Under Thin Ice brings viewers into an awe-inspiring underwater world threatened by melting ice and rapid climate change.
The WCFF mission is to inform, engage and inspire wildlife conservation through the power of film and media.
The 10th annual WCFF in New York, NY will be a virtual event October 1-31. This is due to COVID-19 restrictions. New York State and the City of New York have not allowed movie theaters to reopen. Each day of the virtual festival will have LiveChats where the audience can interact with filmmakers, conservationists and scientists.
Expedition Log #1 – An Arctic Voyage / Lucia Griggi
Filmed and Edited by: ADRIEN MAUDUIT (Night Lights Films)
Believe it or not, we didn’t have that much of a winter. Even in Arctic Norway! Since November, 13 consecutive extra-tropical cyclones have brushed the coast of Norway affecting even the coldest places of the country. As a consequence, lots of positive temperatures and rain on top of the snow, somehow destroying the typical arctic wonderland.
However in between the lukewarm rainstorms, the cold came back and allowed for short periods of freezing temperatures and snow. In these moments it was important for me to get out there whenever I could and capture all I could get. Cold also meant clearer skies and as a result aurora. Nonetheless it was never as easy as that because of the solar minimum we are at. It means lower auroral activity and fewer big shows.
The Polarstern research vessel will spend 1 year locked in an Arctic ice floe. Aboard the ship and on the nearby ice, researchers will take measurements of the ice, air, water, and more in an effort to understand this pristine place. Science journalist Shannon Hall joins host Sarah Crespi to talk about her time aboard the Polarstern and how difficult these measurements are, when the researchers’ temporary Arctic home is the noisiest, smokiest, brightest thing around.
After that icy start, Sarah talks also with Tanmoy Samanta, a postdoctoral researcher at Peking University in Beijing, about the source of the extreme temperature of the Sun’s corona, which can be up to 1 million K hotter than the surface of the Sun. His team’s careful measurements of spicules—small, plentiful, short-lived spikes of plasma that constantly ruffle the Sun’s surface—and the magnetic networks that seem to generate these spikes, suggest a solution to the long-standing problem of how spicules arise and, at the same time, their likely role in the heating of the corona.