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Breaking the ice around climate change

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Scientists behind the award-winning documentary Thin Ice have released a series of free online resources to help to spread the word about climate change and signal hope for a good outcome if carbon emissions are reduced.

A series of interviews with leading experts on polar ice sheets reveal that we are not yet committed to the loss of the polar ice caps through human-induced increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, says Thin Ice co-director Associate Professor Simon Lamb of Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences.

"But the scientists also explain in detail how significant parts of the ice caps will be lost, with a rise in mean global sea level of several metres or more, if no significant action is taken."

Thin Ice-the Inside Story of Climate Science was produced by DOX Productions in London in a 2013 collaboration with Victoria University and Oxford University. The award-winning documentary has been screened across the United States on public television and released on DVD with subtitles in ten languages. It can be viewed here: 

The Science Learning Hub, a national project funded by the Government’s Strategic Plan for Science in Society, has now released a series of additional resources based on the film and interview material to support learning and teaching nationwide. Visit the Science Learning Hub here:

The resources cover eight different aspects of climate change including climate models, the social science behind climate change, carbon dioxide, innovation and glaciers.

Science Learning Hub project manager Andrea Soanes says the downloadable resources are accessible to anyone interested, with specific suggestions for teachers about how they might be used to support students’ learning and thinking about climate change.

"Science is all about building curiosity. We want to excite and encourage teachers to delve into the subject material, so we’ve made the resources available in easily digestible chunks, with short videos-this can provide flexibility in the way teachers utilise them in the classroom. There is also huge scope for cross-curricular learning, engaging students in a key issue facing New Zealand and the rest of the world."

Thin Ice executive producer, Emeritus Professor Peter Barrett of Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre, says he has been delighted at the chance to work with the Science Learning Hub to make the stories in the film more accessible to young people.

"Dealing with climate change is going to be a big part of their future, and we need to do all we can to equip them well for it."

The Thin Ice project has also published three interviews with world-leading polar scientists on recent research into the pace and scale of ice sheet melting and rising sea levels, which are available to the general public on Victoria University’s YouTube channel.

The videos were produced from Associate Professor Lamb’s interviews with scientists giving Victoria’s annual S.T. Lee Lecture in Antarctic Studies-Professor Rob DeConto from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of British Antarctic Survey, and Professor Eric Rignot from the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

"This is a chance for the public to hear first-hand from world experts about the impact of global warming on the polar ice caps, particularly in Antarctica," says Associate Professor Lamb.

"Momentum is growing for tackling climate change, in the public and across parties in parliament. Scientists think we still have a window of opportunity to deal with climate change, and the more people know about it, the better. And you’ll learn the scientific evidence for what will happen if we don’t work hard now."

List of resources:

Science Learning Hub articles

- Climate change, science and controversy

- Climate action

- Adventure and innovation on the ice

- Clues to the past

- Disappearing glaciers

- Carbon dioxide and climate

- Climate models

- Climate change: A wicked problem for classroom inquiry

- Thin Ice in the classroom

S.T. Lee speaker interviews

- Modelling Antarctic ice sheets-Professor Rob DeConto

- Greening of Antarctica-Professor Jane Francis

- Watching the planet’s ice sheets disappear-Professor Eric Rignot

Thin Ice documentary

- Purchase the DVD, stream the documentary or organise a community screening at

Victoria University of Wellington websites

- Antarctic Research Centre

- School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences

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