The feature documentary ICE ON FIRE focuses on the research behind today’s climate science. Scientists from NILU and CAGE appear in the film, which is produced and narrated by Oscar®-winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
ICE ON FIRE is directed by Leila Conners and will premiere at 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.
Highlighting voices from the frontiers of Arctic science
Some of the scientists who are given voice in ICE ON FIRE are to be found at NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research at Kjeller outside Oslo and UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. The crew visited Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate Environment and Climate, CAGE, to highlight the research on a very specific, but potentially globally significant climate gas: Methane.
Methane is a greenhouse gas far stronger that CO2, with a lifetime in the atmosphere of around 10 years. Vast amounts of methane are trapped at shallow depths below the seafloor as gas hydrates, ice-like mixtures of gas and water. The potential abrupt future release of even a small fraction of these Arctic methane stores will profoundly change the Earth’s atmospheric composition, and rapidly accelerate global warming and sea-level rise.
Cathrine Lund Myhre works as senior scientist at NILU, and was invited by CAGE through the collaboration on the project MOCA – Methane Emissions from the Arctic Ocean to the Atmosphere: Present and Future Climate Effects.
Working mainly with understanding of atmospheric composition and change, Lund Myhre explains that methane sources can be both natural and result from human activity.
“A large fraction of the methane is from natural sources that are vulnerable to climate change”, she says. “Accordingly, the control and mitigation of these is out of our control and must be achieved by avoiding increased temperatures on Earth. We need better knowledge about these emissions, their strength and response to climate change. At the same time, most of the emissions now, ca 60%, are from human activities, and these can be controlled.”
“The ice covers of our planet are tremendously vulnerable to climate change, and they control complex systems for methane release,” says 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 that we all have to contribute to.”
ICE ON FIRE is investigating solutions and aiming for hope
“We wanted to make a film that depicts the beauty of our planet while highlighting much-needed solutions across renewable energy and carbon sequestration”, says Mr. DiCaprio. “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.”
The film gives an insight into innovations aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, which could pave the way for a reduction in the global temperature rise and a benefit to the planet’s life systems.
“Being in front of a film camera is not every day work for me” says Lund Myhre, “but the dissemination of knowledge about role of methane in climate change, and what we see in the Arctic, is important. I am very glad we got this opportunity to reach out via ICE ON FIRE.”
Monitoring, observations, modelling crucial for future
Arctic areas are difficult to reach and research is both time consuming and expensive. But more ground work is necessary to inform the experimental models climate scientist rely on to make sound interpretations of the climate systems.
“It is crucial that we understand the methane sources, and the ratio of natural and anthropogenic changes”, says Lund Myhre. “The recent increase in the atmosphere does not seem to be explained purely by emission from human activities, but these are the only ones possible to control by mitigation strategies and abatement control. Changes in natural systems are harder to predict, and very difficult to control, so we must take action where we can.”