Frozen Planet

8:30pm Tuesday, February 28 on TV One

In tonight’s episode Sir David Attenborough

journeys to both polar regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet.

Sir David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be open ocean within the next few decades.

The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so Sir David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face to face with a tranquilised female bear and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears.

In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space – the Arctic Ocean has lost 30 percent of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollar worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun’s energy.

Next, Sir David travels to see what’s happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level.

Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic – Sir David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It’s not just the ice that is changing – ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet – the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.

Missed an episode of Frozen Planet? Full episodes are available online. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

8:30pm Tuesday, February 21 on TV One

In tonight’s episode of Frozen Planet, Sir David Attenborough explores the extraordinary riches and wonders of the polar regions that have kept people going there for thousands of years. Today their survival relies on a combination of ancient wisdom and cutting edge science.

Most Arctic people live in Siberia, either in cities like Norilsk – the coldest city on earth, or out on the tundra where tribes like the Dolgan survive by herding reindeer, using them to drag their homes behind them.

On the coast, traditional people still hunt walrus from open boats – it’s dangerous work but one big walrus will feed a family for weeks.

Today settlers are drawn to the Arctic by its abundant minerals: the Danish Armed Forces maintain their claim to Greenland’s mineral wealth with an epic dog sled patrol, covering more than 3,000 kilometres through the winter. Above, the spectacular Northern lights can disrupt power supplies so scientists monitor it constantly, firing rockets into it to release a cloud of glowing smoke, 100 kilometres high.

In contrast, Antarctica is so remote and cold that it was only a century ago that the first people explored the continent. Captain Scott’s hut still stands as a memorial to these men. Today, science is the only significant human activity allowed: robot submarines are sent deep beneath the ice in search of new life-forms, which may also be found in a labyrinth of ice caves high up on an active volcano. Above, colossal balloons are launched into the purest air on earth to detect cosmic rays.

Missed an episode of Frozen Planet? Full episodes are available online. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

8:30pm Tuesday, February 7 on TV One

Continue the journey across frozen continents with Sir David Attenborough, as he traverses the polar regions, from North Pole to South.

Tonight, for the animals of the polar regions autumn means dramatic battles and epic journeys. Time is running out – the Arctic Ocean is freezing over and the sea ice advancing more than four kilometres a day around Antarctica.

Polar bears gather in large numbers on the Arctic coast as they wait for the return of the ice. Soon tempers fray and violent sparring contests break out. Meanwhile, 2,000 beluga whales head for one special estuary, to thrash their snow-white bodies against the gravel and exfoliate – it’s a gigantic ‘whale spa’.

Inland, the tundra undergoes a dramatic transformation from green to fiery red. Here, musk ox males slam head-first into each other with the force of a car crash at 48 kph, as they struggle to defend their harems. Frisky young caribou males play a game of ‘grandma’s footsteps’ as they try to steal the boss’s female.

Down in Antarctica, Adelie penguin chicks huddle together in creches. When a parent returns from fishing, it leads its twins on a comical steeplechase – sadly there’s only enough for one so the winner gets the meal. Two months later and the chicks are fully feathered, apart from downy Mohican hairdos – they’re ready to take their first swim, reluctantly – it seems penguins are not born with a love of water! And with good reason – a leopard seal explodes from the sea and pulls one from an ice floe – a hunting manoeuvre that has never been filmed before.

As winter approaches and everyone has left, the giant Emperor penguin arrives and makes an epic trek inland to breed. The mothers soon return to the sea, leaving the fathers to hold the eggs and endure the coldest winter on earth.

Missed an episode of Frozen Planet? Full episodes are available online. Go to www.tvnz.co.nz and click ‘on demand’.

8:30pm Tuesday, January 24 on TV One

Continue the journey across frozen continents with Sir David Attenborough, as he traverses the polar regions, from North Pole to South.

Tonight on Frozen Planet, it’s spring in the polar regions and the sun appears after an absence of five months; warmth and life return to these magical ice worlds – the greatest seasonal transformation on our planet is underway.

Male adelie penguins arrive in Antarctica to build their nests – it takes a good property to attract the best mates and the males will stop at nothing to better their rivals! But these early birds face the fiercest storms on the planet.

In the Arctic, a polar bear mother is hunting with her cubs. Inland, the frozen rivers start to break up and billions of tons of ice are swept downstream in the greatest of polar spectacles. This melt-water fertilizes the Arctic Ocean, feeding vast shoals of arctic cod and narwhal. The influx of freshwater accelerates the breakup of the sea-ice – an area of ice the size of Australia will soon vanish from the Arctic.

8:30pm Tuesday, January 17 on TV One

Icebergs the size of New York skyscrapers and the first film of killer whales hunting in packs are among the highlights of the stunning BBC nature series, Frozen Planet premiering tonight on TV ONE.

The acclaimed series, featuring Sir David Attenborough, took four years to make and traverses the polar regions, from North Pole to South.

The Arctic and Antarctic are the greatest and least known wildernesses of all – magical ice worlds inhabited by the most bizarre and hardy creatures on earth.

Tonight, the journey begins out on the frozen Arctic Ocean, close to the North Pole. The sun is back after six months of darkness. Cameras follow a pair of courting polar bears, which reveal a surprisingly tender side.

Next stop is the giant Greenland ice cap where waterfalls plunge into the heart of the ice, and a colossal iceberg carves into the sea. Humpback whales join the largest gathering of seabirds on earth to feast in rich Alaskan waters.

Further south, the tree-line marks the start of the Taiga forest, containing one-third of all trees on Earth. Here, 25 of the world’s largest wolves take on formidable bison prey.

At the other end of the planet, the Antarctic begins in the Southern Ocean where surfing penguins struggle to escape a hungry sea lion, and teams of orcas create giant waves to wash seals from ice floes – a filming first.

Diving below the ice, cameras discover prehistoric giants – terrifying sea spiders and woodlice the size of dinner plates. Above ground, crystal caverns ring the summit of Erebus, the most southerly volcano on earth. From here, the routes of early explorers, Scott and Amundsen, on their quest to be the first humans to reach the South Pole, are retraced. The journey ends at the formidable Antarctic ice-cap, which contains 75-percent of the world’s freshwater and is the largest concentration of ice on the planet.

Frozen Planet presenter Sir David Attenborough says, “We all know the natural world is in danger. If people are going to have to deal with that they are going to have to know about it, care about it, and understand it. “

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