30/11/2009

Arctic Trip Highlights Global Warming

An expedition to the High Arctic has scored a world first. Aboard his boat, Caelan, to shoot material for a TV pilot on climate change, natural history producer and cameraman Brian Black, of Evergreen Media, has gone where no one has gone before - because of global warming.

Previous documentaries made by Evergreen Media have highlighted the toxic pollution poisoning the wildlife of this remote area, and how global warming is destroying their habitat and threatening the Innuit (Eskimo) way of life.

The TV journalist (pictured) and his crew returned for a third season to East Greenland to explore new areas of the coastline, accessible for the first time ever due to the absence of pack-ice, a significant sign of global warming.

"Temperature rise is happening faster here than anywhere else in the world and we simply don't know what that's going to do - not just to the Gulf Stream which keeps us warm in winter but also to sea-levels world-wide," he said.

"We were looking for something dramatic to illustrate the way the ice-cap is melting, when we came upon Warming Island," said Brian.

"We already knew something of this amazing place, which was discovered in an aerial survey in 2005 and is thought to be the first island in the world to be created by global warming."

What had always seemed to be a large, solid, triple-pronged headland jutting into the sea, was found to have been mostly comprised of a massive ice-bridge, which linked a glacier on the mainland to the rocky outcrops of the cape.
News Image
When rising temperatures caused this ice to melt, a clear strait opened up and the 'headland' was revealed to be an island: "These are dangerous waters at the best of times and to deliberately sail close to a rapidly melting glacier certainly demanded a lot of thinking about.

"The opportunity to pilot Caelan through that narrow gap and be the first yacht to circumnavigate a 'brand new' island was just too good to miss," he said.

"We heard growls and rumbles from the surrounding ice faces and had to stop, look and listen, to make sure that the mainland glacier was not about to 'calve' and discharge a huge wall of ice into our seaway.

"And all the time, you have to remind yourself that if anything happens in these remote waters, you're very much on your own," he said.

However, battling intense cold in one of the world's most hostile places has proved less of a challenge than getting a funding package to finish the major TV project.

Since 1998 he has been on several voyages to the High Arctic, each one building on the previous to accumulate an acute first hand knowledge of the effects of climate change in this remote region.

"What is happening to the Greenland ice-cap will affect us all in time," he said, insisting that this knowledge lies behind Evergreen Media's determination to bring the programme about global warming to the screens.

Broadcasters have been approached, but the producers are still currently seeking a sponsor to get a funding package together to bring the project through to completion.

See more detail on Brian's journey at: Arctic Epic Seeks Production Funds

(BMcC/KMcA)

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