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Polar issues are global

Last year, former United Nations Secretary General Ban-ki Moon expressed, "The Arctic supports key pillars of the climate system regionally and globally. The fate of the Arctic is tied to the fate of Miami, Mumbai, Shanghai and coastal cities across the world -- and so much else of course." What people living outside of the Arctic do affects the region, too, from driving up demand for oil and gas to throwing out plastic that eventually winds up in icebergs. All the while, researchers from around the world are studying the processes that connect the poles to the rest of the world, while migratory animals like the bowhead whale make the polar region a connected space that transcends national boundaries. The films selected for inclusion in this theme shed light on how planet Earth is, at the end of the day, a polar world.

Each short film selected for the #PolarWorld theme is listed below.

Featured longer film: 

Glacial Balance

Filmmaker Ethan Steinman takes us to a place you might not think of as polar, but which is a crucial part of the cryosphere, the Earth's ice covered ecosystem: the Andes mountains in South America. The glaciers in these peaks do everything from providing fresh drinking water to numerous indigenous communities to helping to regulate the global climate system. From Colombia to Argentina, journey through the world of tropical glaciers to see how their disappearance is affecting the entire planet at scales big and small.

See the films


Watch all of the short films on the Youtube and Vimeo playlists, or use the individual links below. The whole set lasts about 60 minutes.

GoPro Cause: Forever Securing World Food Supply with Crop Trust (USA)

Short film (16:09), general audience

GoPro takes us to Svalbard to see how and why a global seed vault buried in the ice is storing 880,000 seed samples to safeguard the future of our planet's food.

Arctic Currents: A Year in the Life of the Bowhead Whale (Inupiaq/Alaska)

Medium-length film (24:03), general audience, in Inupiaq with English subtitles

This film by University of Alaska's Museum of the North depicts the annual migration of bowhead across the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas.

Arctic Ice Art displayed in Paris

Short film (2:33), general audience

For the COP-21 climate negotiations in Paris, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson brought 12 blocks of ice from Greenland to melt before onlookers' eyes. It's Arctic climate change made all the more tangible, thousands of miles away.

In Iceland, Refugee Population Helps Yield Diversity, Economic Growth

Short segment (8:39), general audience

The Arctic is home to more than just indigenous peoples and long-time northern residents. Increasingly, refugees from places like the Middle East are moving thousands of miles north to start new lives. This short PBS film sheds light on the new possibilities but also tensions that this influx of people is bringing to the tiny, mostly homogeneous island of Iceland.

Ctrl Alt Del | Rethinking Methane In The Arctic (UK)

Short film (10:54), general public

This short film takes us to Svalbard, a set of islands north of Norway that are like "a huge natural laboratory," to learn more about methane, a potent greenhouse gas that may be released across the Arctic as permafrost thaws.

With Enough Evidence, Even Skepticism Will Thaw

Short film (7:03), general audience

In northern Greenland, The Washington Post follows two scientists to trek to one of the island's largest ice shelves to study how rapid it's melting, and what this means for global sea level rise. The video, along with an accompanying story, is available on The Washington Post's website,

Arctic Variety: Exploring the Snow (Finland)

Short film (3:45), general audience

How do scientists in Finland explore snow - and why are they doing so with a paintbrush?

SWERUS-C3 – An Expedition to the Arctic Ocean (Sweden)

Short film (29:00), general audience

Permafrost doesn't just exist on land. It sits on the seabed, too, and as it thaws, methane may be released as well. Swerus-C3, this Swedish–Russian–American collaborative effort, some 80 researchers studied the processes of this greenhouse gas during a six-week expedition at sea.

Antarctica (Sweden)

Short film (8:24), general audience

Stunning drone footage shot using a GoPro of the continent at the bottom of the Earth.

Polarstern Expedition to Amundsen Sea (Germany)

Short film (8:54), general audiences

Follow along with the German ship R/V Polarstern as it makes its way to Antarctica's Amundsen Sea for a scientific expedition.

Expedição Criosfera (Cryosphere Expedition) (Brazil)

Medium-length film (22:47), Portuguese-speaking audiences

See what happened when the Expedição Criosfera (Cryosphere Expedition) installed the first Brazilian scientific module in Antarctica's interior in 2012.

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