Nova Arctic Drift





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"Arctic Drift" (2021 release; 53 min.) is a new episode of the long-running science-focused PBS series NOVA. As the episode opens, the narrator reminds us that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. To examine the reasons for this, a mega-expedition consisting of hundreds of scientists (from 37 different countries) is setting course to the Arctic on the icebreaker Polarstern, planning to spend an entire year in the Arctic to study what is causing these rapid changes. It is "September 21, 2019, Day 1" and within days they arrive at the outskirts of the Arctic...Couple of comments: I have seen many, many interesting episodes of NOVA over the years. But some are better than others. And then there are a few that truly stand out and instantly become memorable, for a variety of reasons. "Arctic Drift" is one of those truly memorable episodes. The opening minutes feature opening comments from a number of the scientists, and it's like getting your appetite wetted: "Like going to the moon", "This has never been done before", etc. In fact comparisons with going to the moon are comping up multiple times, for example when they are looking for the right "ice flow" to anchor the ship for the winter months ("like picking a landing spot on the moon"), or when they reach "polar night" in late October, with 4-5 months of utter darkness ahead "("like you are on the moon"). Along the way, multiple challenges come along, some of them unexpected (like roaming polar bears coming close to the camps in sheer desperation to find anything to eat). The episode is chock full of outstanding and spectacular video footage. It cannot be overstated that this is the very first time an expedition spent an entire winter deep into the Arctic and filmed it all. Wow, just wow. If there is any criticism (and hence my reason for "only" rating this 8 stars), I cannot help but wonder why the hundreds if not thousands of hours of video footage from this 300+ day expedition had to be crammed into just 53 minutes, when I am quite certain this could easily have been made into several episodes. Last but not least, if you wonder what the episode's title "Arctic Drift" refers to, we learn that the frozen spot where the icebreaker and the surrounding camps are, in fact moves about 8 miles every single day. Absolutely amazing."Arctic Drift" premiered earlier this week on PBS, and is now available on PBS on Demand, Amazon Instant Video and soon as well on DVD/Blu-ray. If it sounds like I'm gushing over this particular NOVA episode, well it's because I am! If you have any interest in what life on the Arctic is like, or in climate change in general, I'd readily suggest you check this out, and draw your own conclusion.

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Apr 7, 2022 at 03:28 PM
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