KINGSTON, R.I., — February 18, 2021 — For centuries sailors have been obsessed with finding a path across the mostly frozen Arctic. Today, scientists are racing to understand a warming Arctic, and how these environmental changes will affect all of Earth’s inhabitants.
In 2019, the Swedish Icebreaker Oden sailed into the Northwest Passage with a team led by the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO). Expedition participants included scientists, education professionals, a journalist, an Arctic scholar, and 23 graduate and undergraduate students from across the United States. The Northwest Passage Project was conceived to conduct innovative scientific research related to Arctic climate change, provide hands-on training and research experiences for students, and share the importance of this visually stunning Arctic region with the public.
On February 25 at 3p.m., GSO’s Inner Space Center will host a virtual screening of the documentary “Frozen Obsession,” which follows the 2019 expedition through the high Arctic. Following the film screening, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A session with GSO project leaders Gail Scowcroft and Brice Loose, GSO graduate student Jacob Strock, and the film’s producer David Clark. GSO’s Holly Morin will serve as host and moderator. This event is free and open to the public.
To register for the event please go to: http://bit.ly/frozen-uri
“Frozen Obsession” follows the 18-day, 2,000-mile Northwest Passage Project expedition through the stunningly beautiful and extreme Canadian Arctic aboard the Oden. The expedition is led by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from GSO, its Inner Space Center, and award-winning filmmaker David Clark. The Inner Space Center, an international hub for ocean research, exploration, and education, is a world leader in the use of advanced communication technologies, such as telepresence, to expand the reach of oceanographic research.
The documentary provides a bird’s eye view of how climate change—a critical scientific and societal issue—is impacting the Arctic region and how scientists are striving to better understand these impacts. Nowhere on Earth are the consequences of a warming climate more pronounced and observable than in the polar regions.
“It is important for people everywhere on Earth to see and understand how this region affects all of us,” said Scowcroft. “The region’s meltwater, water circulation, and exchange of greenhouse gases between the ocean and the atmosphere are causing wide-scale environmental and climatic changes, which increasingly affect people and wildlife diversity around the world.”
During the expedition, the Northwest Passage Project team studied water chemistry, microbiology, birds, marine mammals, and physical oceanography – all in radical transition due to a warming Arctic climate. In addition to documenting the scientific research, “Frozen Obsession” explores the rich cultural heritage and natural history of the region. The expedition team visited an Inuit community to witness first-hand how the Arctic’s indigenous people are coping with climate change, graves from the doomed 19th century Franklin sailing expedition, and areas teaming with wildlife. The film also explores the geopolitics of the Arctic, as increasing resource extraction, commercial vessels, cruise ships, and military patrol craft now traverse this once isolated region.
As “Frozen Obsession” bears witness to a dramatically changing Arctic and the urgent efforts of science to understand the consequences, the public can gain a sobering assessment of what’s at stake. However, in a hopeful turn, the film also witnesses the exhilarating life-changing experiences of participating students, who represent the next generation of scientists and decision makers and who will surely make a difference in the world.
The Northwest Passage Project is supported by the National Science Foundation with additional support from the Heising-Simons Foundation.