World Premiere: The Polar Explorer

Photo courtesy of Mr. Ramon Terrado of ArcticNet

02.09.11 Update: In January, 2011, the area of Arctic sea ice coverage was at its smallest since satellite records began–1.27 million sq km less than the 1979-2000 average.

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The Polar Explorer–The Official COP16 Film by award-winning documentary filmmaker Mark Terry–premieres March 15,2011 at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. It’s a film you won’t want to miss.

What is COP16? The sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) as part of The United Nations Climate Change Conference which took place in Cancun, Mexico,  29 November to 10 December 2010..

The trailer…

To purchase tickets to the World Premiere, visit

About the film.

The Polar Explorer is a complete scientific profile of our rapidly changing Polar Regions. Showcasing the latest climate change discoveries being made in the Arctic and Antarctic–including new life on the ocean seabed and other previously inaccessible areas of the Arctic seas–the documentary film represents years of study and exploration. Following a historic journey featuring the work of 10 of the world’s foremost polar scientists who spent 2 weeks crossing the Arctic, the film compares and contrasts their finding with the latest studies being conducted at the other end of the earth – Antarctica. From polar bears and penguins, The Polar Explorer provides an up-to-the minute status report on earth’s polar extremes.

Brief Chat with Filmmaker, Mark Terry.

Mark was kind enough to take time out of his tremendously busy schedule to answer some questions about his crew’s October 2010 expedition across The Northwest Passage to the most remote and mysterious parts of our planet: the Polar Regions.

How did The Polar Explorer get chosen to screen at the COP16 conference?
Our film was chosen because it provides this information at its most current and also because The Antarctica Challenge made such an impact last year in Copenhagen.

What did your film accomplish at COP16?

Our film reached and moved many negotiators and in the end the resolution we were lobbying for – a call to action to build flood defenses and relocate vulnerable coastal communities in anticipation of rising sea levels caused by glacier retreat – did not come to pass, but we did see a resolution recognizing the link between rising sea levels and glacier retreat which was never there before.

You can read the resolution on our website Home Page:

Why should people see your film? What do you want them to walk away with?

People should see our film for two reasons: to see the latest scientific discoveries made in the polar regions relating to climate change and to see how a small group of people and one film actually achieved a major step in the battle against climate change. For all those who think: What can one person do? This film will provide the motivation that one person can make a difference.

The way climate change is affecting the polar regions will have a more severe and immediate impact on the people of the world than any greenhouse gases and unrecyclable plastic water bottles will.

Melting land ice at the poles is causing an exponentially accelerated rise in sea levels that threaten coastal communities the world over with flooding and tsunamis.

The satellite photography and scientific evidence provided by NASA, ArcticNet and the British Antarctic Survey showcased in our film provides the irrefutable evidence that we need to prepare for this imminent environmental catastrophe much sooner than we previously thought.

What was the most surprising discovery?
Perhaps the “seabed donuts”, found at a depth of about 1,500 feet, these are huge rings measuring 200 meters across by 30 meters high (600 feet by 100 feet).

Unknown circular features on the Arctic seabed. Photo: Jonathan R

What was most disappointing?
The lack of sea ice. Our rugged Coast Guard icebreaker seemed like overkill in these barely frozen Arctic seas.

An Arctic sunrise | Photo: Mark Terry

Any frightening moments?
When we were hunted by polar bears. We were approaching a ridge to plant an ice motion beacon when a “watcher” on the ship said on the loudspeaker “STOP! Do not go any further! Polar bears on the other side of the ridge! Return to the ship IMMEDIATELY!” We bid a hasty and heart-pounding retreat, but the ship blew its foghorn chasing the bears away. We returned to plant the beacons – nervously.

Photo: Mark Terry

How about the funniest?
The sheer giddiness of the scientists who were celebrating their unexpected HUGE haul of marine life at a midnight collection. Like pirates celebrating the recovery of a treasure chest full of gold and diamonds, the scientists were raising worms, squids and starfish in the air with their bare hands laughing with delight over their biological bounty.

Arctic starfish | Photo: Mark Terry

More Arctic starfish | Photo: Mark Terry

Anything embarrassing?
Not for us, but perhaps for the scientists when our sound guy, Steve McNamee, made a major scientific discovery while casually looking out the window of the bridge. He spotted a collection of round ice balls that the scientists, the ice specialist and the crew of the ship had never seen before.

Formation of ice | Photo: Mark Terry

What inspired you to explore such cold regions?
A vacation in Alaska when I first came face-to-face with the size, beauty and majesty of an iceberg. The unique eco-system seemed other-worldly and fragile and I became a hungry student of the polar regions and why they are so unique and how they impact on us even though, by and large, we ignore them and know very little about them.

Photo: Mark Terry

What’s your fave Arctic animal ?
Probably the Arctic Fox. Polar bears are interesting but have difficulty adapting. I like how the fox can adapt to the rapidly changing environment with relative ease.

Arctic Fox near Sachs Harbour | Photo: Mark Terry

Do you consider yourself a bi-polar explorer (tongue-in-cheek)?
In more ways than one!

What motivates you?
Knowing that my films bring the data to the people and the politicians better than the scientists themselves can do. This is crucial information for the world that is not easy to acquire and often falls on deaf ears. The voice I provide is heard by more people as it “translates” science-speak into people-speak and therefore reaches the media as well.

What’s your next film?
The Polar Explorer. Until it is released, I have no “other” film. Kind of like marriage….

The Polar Explorer–chosen to screen at COP16–reports on the latest scientific findings related to climate change at BOTH polar regions.

“The speed at which the polar regions are melting needs to be reflected in the speed with which nations come to agree on a decisive and definitive new global climate agreement. While the science is speaking loudly, it is often difficult for millions if not billions of people to witness this with their own eyes.”

“This is the value of the film The Polar Explorer, seen through the eyes of the scientists on the front-line, it brings the climate impacts at the poles to audiences in the conference halls of Cancun and the computers of the global public in order to raise the alarm but also the imperative to act”. ~Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

You can read about Mark’s journey across the fabled Northwest Passage at Follow The Polar Explorer on twitter.

About Mark Terry

Mark Terry is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and explorer whose film Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning was officially invited by the United Nations to be screened at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

What is COP16/CMP6?

COP16/CMP6 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) and the 6th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). “Parties” refers to all the national states that signed and ratified both of the international treaties, committing to observe and comply with its terms regarding international cooperation against climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been signed by 194 State Parties (list) and the Kyoto Protocol has been ratify by 184 State Parties (list). In accordance with article 7 of the Convention, the Conference of the Parties in its authority of the supreme body has the mandate of adopting the necessary decisions for the promotion of its effective application.

The name COP refers to the english acronysm of the reunions of the State Parties on numerous International Treaties (“Conference of Parties”). However, due to the relevance of the subject within the international agenda, the name COP is related to Climate Change. These conferences are celebrated annually between the months of November and December. This year, the Conference will take place in Cancun, Mexico, yet it is important to highlight that it is the Convention’s Secretariat that organizes them in conformity to the reunions standards established by the United Nations.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is composed of two general categories of participants: The State Parties and the observers. The observers are divided into Intergovernmental Organizations and Nongovernmental Organizations (article 7 section 6), who must register and accredit themselves before the Convention’s Secretariat in order to participate in the Conferences. Only the representatives of the registered organizations will be allowed to assist attend the sessions of the different bodies of the Convention, as observers.

2 Responses

  1. Nice work and very cool (uh-hum) article.

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