The feature documentary ICE ON FIRE highlights cutting-edge research driving today’s climate science. Oscar®-winner Leonardo DiCaprio produced and narrated the film, which includes scientists from CAGE, a centre of excellence at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.
Text & Photos: Maja Sojtaric
ICE ON FIRE is directed by Leila Conners and will premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Wednesday May 22, and on HBO June 11.
“My partners and I made ICE ON FIRE to give a voice to the scientists and researchers who work tirelessly every day on the frontlines of climate change,” says producer and narrator Leonardo DiCaprio in a statement.
Features voices on the forefront of Arctic science
Some of the scientists included in ICE ON FIRE can be found at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. The crew visited UiT’s Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE) to highlight the research on a very specific, but potentially globally significant, gas.
CAGE investigates the release of methane – a greenhouse gas far stronger than CO2 – from the Arctic seafloor and permafrost. Vast amounts of methane are trapped at shallow depths below the seafloor as gas hydrates, ice-like mixtures of gas and water. The abrupt release of even a small fraction of these methane stores could profoundly change the nature of the Earth’s biosphere, rapidly accelerating global warming and giving rise to sea levels.
“The ice covers of our planet are tremendously vulnerable to climate change, and they control complex systems for methane release,” reports CAGE director Karin Andreassen. “We welcome any initiatives that can shed light on the specific research that we do, because it is a part of the global conversation to which we all have to contribute.”
ICE ON FIRE investigates solutions; aims for hope
Cathrine Lund Myhre, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) and CAGE collaborator, appears in ICE ON FIRE together with professor Jürgen Mienert and researcher Pavel Serov from CAGE.
“The dissemination of knowledge about role of methane in climate change, and what we see in the Arctic, is important,” says Myhre. “We need better understanding of the sources, and the ratio of natural and anthropogenic emissions of the greenhouse gas. The recent increase of methane in the atmosphere does not seem to be explained purely by emission from human activities, but it is only the human emissions that can be controlled by mitigation strategies and abatement control.”
The documentary provides insight into technological innovations aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, which could assist in reversing some of the damage done to our environment.
“We wanted to make a film that depicts the beauty of our planet while highlighting much-needed solutions across renewable energy and carbon sequestration. This film does more than show what is at stake if we continue on a course of inaction and complacency – it shows how, with the help of dedicated scientists, we can all fight back. I hope audiences will be inspired to take action to protect our beautiful planet,” says Mr. DiCaprio.
Continued research crucial for future
Arctic areas are remote, making them notoriously difficult to access. This leads to research that is both expensive and time-consuming. Regardless, more groundwork is necessary to inform the experimental models climate scientists rely on to make sound interpretations of climate systems.
According to professor Andreassen, “The Arctic is a complicated place that offers complex insights. But we must endure and continue to push for high scientific activity in the area. Our understanding of these systems is crucial for the future of the planet.”
CAGE and affiliated scientists participating in the film:
Professor – CAGE, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.
Phone: +47 99794063
Cathrine Lund Myhre:
Senior scientist – Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU)
Project leader for the MOCA-project and for the Norwegian Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Program.
Phone: +47 48221353
Researcher – CAGE, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Phone: +47 99867350
Director – CAGE, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Phone: +47 46929027
Senior communications advisor – CAGE, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Phone: +47 91845151