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The Arctic - 66.5 Degrees North

Duration: 3 x 45'

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One of the last truly untouched places on Earth this incredible series, narrated by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), gives a comprehensive overview of some locations so inaccessible they have never been captured on film before. Meeting front line scientists and hearing what changes will mean to the planet, the people and wildlife who call the Arctic home.

The Arctic appears like the open-air lab for the change of our planet’s climate and there is more interest today than ever before. Not only from tourists wishing to see the unique landscape before it is lost forever. But, from those seeking something perhaps even more valuable: The vast mineral resources buried beneath the ice. As the ice melts and shipping routes become more accessible, the race for riches has begun.

From Greenland with its vast ice sheet and calving glaciers, to the frozen wonderland of the Svalbard archipelago. From the nuclear powered icebreaker smashing through frozen ocean to the endless river deltas of Canada. From the ‘Arctic Riviera’ in Norway, to the fiery volcanos of Iceland, these fascinating films look at the attempts to explore the deposits of natural riches, and the new accessibility of shipping routes and super remote territories helping the viewer to better understand the complex, countless global effects of the warming of the Arctic. 

The Arctic is changing rapidly and irrevocably before our eyes. Warming here is five times faster than anywhere else on the planet. Scientists predict summers will be ice free in the Arctic as early as 2050. Some say even earlier.

The Arctic - 66.5 Degrees North is a visually stunning documentary series giving unprecedented insight and access into the remote wilderness, beauty, and majestic wildlife of the north.


Episode 1: Frozen Beauty
Journey across the vast Greenland icecap with its stunning pools, rivers and plunging waterfalls, to its coastline of icebergs and calving glaciers.   

We begin on the remote Norwegian island of Svalbard. The home of polar bear Misha who is teaching her young cub important life lessons, along with some delightful playtime on the snowy mountain slopes. 

Less than 500 kilometres away from the Norwegian archipelago, a team of marine biologists are busy on the Russian island of Victoria looking for answers to explain the mystery behind the dwindling number of Atlantic Walruses. This field work requires cunning expertise from the scientists.

Scientists from all around the world are seeking answers in the Arctic.  The world renowned glaciologist Jason Box is researching Greenland’s melting ice sheet and what affects this will have on the rest of the world. 

In West Greenland, not far from the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ilulissat Icefjord, geologists have just discovered evidence of an active wetland leaching from under the thick ice sheet, providing a new source of Co2 emissions.

For those who call the Arctic home, climate change is experienced first hand. The traditional Inuit way of life for Tobias and his family in Tasiilaq is under threat as the sea ice becomes more unpredictable for his dog sled.  The nearest medical treatment for Tobias and the inhabitants of East Greenland is more than 800 kilometres away across the ocean to Iceland. 

Iceland the land of fire and ice. Footage of the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in this episode is truly awe inspiring. 

Episode 2: Race For Riches
The East Greenland National Park is the largest national park in the world - it is even bigger than many countries! The park boasts some of the most fascinating rock formations on the planet. They are not only visually stunning, but some are also highly valuable. 

In the short Arctic summer, East Greenland is a buzz of activity as mining exploration companies from around the world come in search of Precious Metals and Rare Earths crucial for technology and infrastructure.

In this episode, we follow an Australian exploration team as they attempt for the first time the dangerous journey north by 4 wheel drive across frozen ocean and fjords to their base camp in King Oscars Fjord at the abandoned camp of Nyhavn. 

Now that summers are longer, there is less sea ice and the glaciers are retreating to reveal ancient bedrock. As a result of this, there is more interest in mining and exploration in the Arctic than ever before.  

However, even before climate change, incredible efforts to extract valuable minerals has taken place in the Arctic.  We take a birds eye view of the most inaccessible mine site in the world: The Black Angel Mine in West Greenland. The mine is now abandoned but as the value of minerals increases, technology improves, and the Arctic becomes more accessible due to global warming, there is talk of reopening.

The Arctic region holds a wealth of riches underground. As the largest country in the world, it is no surprise Russia is the world's largest producer of oil and gas with most of the production located in the Arctic.  We see rare images of the extensive gas pipelines system of the Yamal and the seaport of Sabetta where liquified gas is shipped. Ship traffic has increased significantly since Europe switched off the pipelines with the war on Ukraine.  Further north to the worlds most northerly city of Norilsk, built by prisoners of the Soviet Gulag, Norilsk Nickel has long since been recognised as one of the most polluted places on Earth. 

The Rivera of the Arctic, as the Lofoten islands in Norway are often called, is breathtakingly beautiful. The most northern surf school in the world here offers the unique opportunity to surf with orca’s under the northern lights. Nearby is the most northern port in Europe, Narvik, and the end of the line for the iron ore train from Kiruna in Sweden.  The riches of Kiruna undid the city. The area is so rich in ore that the entire population of 6000 people, along with a number of historic buildings is being relocated so the mine can expand!

Episode 3: The Big Melt
In the very middle of the massive Greenland ice sheet is E-Grip - an extraordinary camp setup of international researchers.  In July 2023 after nearly a decade of drilling metre by metre through the 3km thick ice sheet, scientists have finally reached bedrock. They can now unlocked the secret of why the ice sheet is moving so quickly in the centre of Greenland.   

Greenland's ice cap is melting. Latest predictions using NASA imagery and years of monitoring and measurements, indicate that if the entire Greenland icecap was to melt, sea levels will rise around the world by 7 metres!

In Tuktoyatuk, at the mouth of the Mackenzie River in Canada’s North West Territories, the locals are already struggling with sea levels as the permafrost under their homes melts into the sea. Researchers from around the world work with the locals in relocating the settlement as near by Islands are swallowed by the sea.     

Watching climate change in real time has become a tourist attraction in Greenland, where it is possible to rent a luxury chalet with an uninterrupted view across the Eqi fjord to the worlds most active carving glacier.  A truly once in a lifetime experience. 

In south Greenland, near the Viking settlement of Narsarsuaq, internationally renowned glaciologist Professor Jason Box is studying the effects of black ice.  A phenomena where dirt and dust drifts from Europe and the US across to the Greenland ice sheet, darkening the snow and increasing the absorption of heat from the sun. 

This is not the first time our planet has warmed - just never at this pace!  Scientists like Dr Sofia Riberio hope that by studying the past will help us predict and plan for the future. The lab for Dr Riberio and her team is onboard a Danish military vessel in the North Water Polynya between Canada and Greenland - one of the most biologically productive regions in the Arctic. 

The Arctic is home to an astonishing variety of wildlife both in the water and on the land which not only survive but thrive in this extreme climate.  Highly sophisticated aerial cameras capture these incredible creatures as they go about their lives in ways not often seen on film. 



For Arte & ZDF

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