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The Earth’s poles are more sensitive to change than other parts of the world and they hold some of the clues to the future of our changing planet. The need to understand how the poles have behaved in the past and how they may react to environmental changes in the future has become so pressing that some 60 countries are spending almost two billion dollars between them on polar research during the International Polar Year.
Similarly, science broadcasters have joined forces for this Pole to Pole project to explore the current understanding of the polar environment, the changes in the icy landscapes and oceans, the plants and animals that survive in the often hostile conditions – and the people whose lives are so finely tuned to the conditions of these special places.
Deutsche Welle's Irene Quaile takes you to some of the northern-most communities on the planet, including a research station on Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago about halfway between Scandinavia and the North Pole. In the small town of Barrow, at the northern tip of Alaska more than 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, the Inupiat people describe how climate change is affecting their traditional way of living off the ocean and to the rhythm of the sea ice. (52′48″)
Join the ABC's Margo Foster aboard the icebreaker Aurora Australis as she travels to east Antarctica with an international group of scientists exploring marine biodiversity. The Southern Ocean and east Antarctica are often described as the black hole of biodiversity - the largest area of the planet that remains mostly unexplored and undescribed, but is expected to host a diverse community of creatures and plants highly adapted to their environment. The destination of the voyage is Commonwealth Bay, where the teams take samples of the water column and seabed as part of the Census of Marine Life. (51′45″)
Veronika Meduna travels to Scott Base to join drillers and scientists as they unearth sediment cores from underneath the Ross Ice Shelf. (52′36″)
This series was produced by Veronika Meduna, as part of a collaboration between Radio New Zealand, Soundprint, BBC, ABC and Deutsche Welle.
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