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World premiere of CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA

Media Statement

Tuesday, 08 November 2016 – Embargoed until 7:30pm


CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA © Antarctica New Zealand, 2014-15.

Antarcticans excited by world premiere of CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA

The world premiere of National Geographic’s new docu-series CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA, which premiered in Christchurch, and at Scott Base in Antarctica this evening, has been met with both excitement and admiration.

Filmed during the 2015-16 Antarctic research season at New Zealand’s Scott Base, using only three cameramen over seven weeks with minimal helicopter time, this may be one of this most challenging television series ever undertaken by National Geographic.

CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA provides inside access to those keeping the home fires burning at Scott Base, located at 78°S, 3800km from Christchurch, New Zealand’s gateway city to the frozen continent. It offers a glance into the everyday operations of an Antarctic research base, and the unique challenges of working in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world.

Antarctica New Zealand staff work to keep New Zealand science operating - from contemplating how to drill holes in the Ross Ice Shelf, which can be up to 2000ft thick, to serving hot meals, gearing up, and guiding teams out onto the ice.

Throughout the docu-series, research teams explore science that will lead us to answers about how climate change in Antarctica could impact the rest of the world, particularly studying sea level rise. They’ll take a look at life of the mega-fauna, orcas and minke whales that migrate to the frozen continent each year, to the microbial life that exists in the unique, almost alien Dry Valleys. We see scientists carefully take digital pictures of Scott’s historic Hut and map the specially protected area surrounding the Hut by drone. Scientists conduct a first-ever in-depth MRI scan of Antarctica's active volcano Mt. Erebus, to better understand volcanic behaviour around the world.

“Driven by pure passion, grit and determination, National Geographic have delivered a television series which is above and beyond all expectations. It is heart-stopping and breath-taking, telling the story of the incredible men and women seeking to understand one of the most important parts of our planet today,” says Peter Beggs, Antarctica New Zealand’s Chief Executive.

“The cameramen became a part of our family at Scott Base. They truly understood our purpose, our values, our resource challenges and our unwavering commitment to health and safety across all of our operations,” says Mr Beggs, who admired the professionalism of the story telling narrative of the first two episodes.

“We are very grateful to our staff and the science community for their support to bring this series to life. Likewise, a tremendous amount of work has gone into the post-production of this series - the storylines are genuine and compelling. It was a team effort to deliver this series.”

To enable this docu-series, in 2015, National Geographic, Antarctica New Zealand and New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI) announced an unprecedented, cross-platform partnership to document the determined individuals working on the frontiers of science at New Zealand’s Scott Base in Antarctica.

The partnership provides significant funding to support New Zealand’s Antarctic research programme through NZARI, and showcases the work undertaken by researchers and support staff through a global television series for National Geographic Channel, articles in National Geographic Magazine and multimedia content on the National Geographic Web platforms.

“National Geographic’s support has helped us launch some challenging new research expeditions deep into the interior of Antarctica to investigate how vulnerable Antarctica, its ice sheets and ice shelves are, as the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere warm. At the same time we hope to learn how the changing ice cover and temperatures will impact the fragile and iconic life of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,” says Professor Gary Wilson, Director of NZARI.

“National Geographic aims to be an international leader for global conservation and environmental sustainability so they are a natural partner for Antarctic research.”

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean play a pivotal role in the complex interplay of the world’s natural environment. Together they are the engine room for global ocean circulation. Antarctica’s ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice have a profound influence on the world’s oceans, marine life, sea levels and weather patterns. There are few places on Earth where new scientific research can provide such far-reaching insight and benefits,” says Professor Wilson.

The global launch of CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA hits screens around the world, including New Zealand, National Geographic Channel 072, on 15 November.

Directly supporting greater awareness of Antarctica’s role in global climate change research, the TV series has a potential audience of 440 million in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Season two of CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA is currently being filmed at Scott Base and promises to expand on season one storylines, while introducing more research, new characters and penguins!

CONTINENT 7: ANTARCTICA is produced by National Geographic Studios for National Geographic Channel. For National Geographic Studios, Executive Producers are Brian Lovett, Jeff Hasler and Yoshi Stone. For National Geographic Channel, Executive Producer is Matt Renner, Tim Pastore is President of Original Programming and Production.

ENDS

Notes:

Watch season one’s trailer here: www.channel.nationalgeographic.com/videos/continent-7-antarctica-trailer.

Public screenings will also be shown that Auckland University of Technology, Waikato University, Victoria University, Canterbury University and Otago Museum prior to the 15th November.

Major research and organisations profiled in the docu-series:

• Mount Erebus, led by Dr. Graeme Hill

• Ross Ice Shelf, led by Dr. Christina Hulbe, University of Otago

• Dry Valleys, led by Professor Craig Cary, University of Waikato

• Marine Megafauna, led by Dr. Regina Eisert, Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury

• Remote sensing at Scott’s Hut, led by Dr. Barbara Breen, Auckland University of Technology

• Scott Base (Antarctica New Zealand team)

• Polar Star, US Coast Guard (National Science Foundation)

Season one episodes and storylines include:

Continent 7: Antarctica – “Storming Antarctica”

Premieres Tuesday, November 15, National Geographic Channel 072

Six teams of scientists, each studying different areas and aspects of Antarctica, arrive on the continent after years of planning and millions of dollars of expense. The continent is home to the coldest, windiest, driest conditions on the planet, and without Scott Base — the hub of Antarctica New Zealand’s missions — these teams couldn’t survive. One team has come to study the inner workings of Mount Erebus, the world’s southernmost active volcano. Another, is traversing out onto the Ross Ice Shelf, a floating piece of ice the size of France. Two thousand miles away, the Antarctic Peninsula team is looking to tag minke whales to track their movements. Each team’s results could have massive implications for better understanding how climate change is affecting all forms of life around the world.

Continent 7: Antarctica – “Not Fit For Human Life”

Premieres Tuesday, November 22, National Geographic Channel 072

Scientists deployed to Antarctica are accustomed to frigid temperatures, but few have experienced the condition one storm that is sweeping over Scott Base and the Ross Ice Shelf. A condition one storm is categorised by visibility less than 100 feet, wind speed over 60 miles per hour, or air temperature below negative 100°C degrees. The consequences can be deadly. Scott Base has shut down all missions, and flights to and from western Antarctica have been cancelled, leaving the scientists more isolated from the outside world than ever. The scientists on the Ross Ice Shelf, 60 miles away from the safety of base, have no choice but to stay in their tents and hunker down until the storm subsides. Those on the water aren’t faring any better: 2000 miles away, a team studying minke whales is stranded from its main vessel because snow has reduced visibility, and the US Coast Guard ship that is en route to help resupply the United States and New Zealand Antarctic research stations in McMurdo Sound on an the continent and it is nearing the perpetual weather system that swirls around Antarctica.

Continent 7: Antarctica – “Antarctic Aftermath”

Premieres Tuesday, November 29, National Geographic Channel 072

The members of the Mount Erebus team not only have trouble landing at one of their sites, but once they do, their computer equipment begins to malfunction from the cold. Meanwhile, as the US Coast Guard Polar Star begins to smash out a channel in the ice to escort supply tankers to the continent, the main engines experience a major malfunction that leaves the ship dead in the water. In the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a team has come to map out the only part of the continent not covered in ice. But with significant wind, the team members struggle to protect their $80,000 drone from crash-landing. The Ross Ice Shelf team, finally able to dig themselves out after enduring a condition one storm, heads out to its targeted research spot.

Continent 7: Antarctica – “Take Your Best Shot”

Premieres Tuesday, December 6, National Geographic Channel 072

All life forms in Antarctica have to endure the harshest climate on Earth in order to survive and thrive as a species. Much of Antarctic life congregates in the ocean, where more nutrients and prey are available. Therefore, scientists have focused their research in these icy waters in an effort to determine how both climate change and direct human interference have affected the marine ecosystem. Whale biopsies determine how their diet has changed over time, and the dire need to reverse climate change effects before it’s too late. On the other hand, life for humans on this continent can be put in danger when the machinery and transportation they rely on in this isolated part of the world fails them. In Antarctica, both humans and animals alike do what it takes to adapt and survive.

Continent 7: Antarctica – “Science of Survival”

Premieres Tuesday, December 13, National Geographic Channel 072

In two weeks, science in Antarctica will shut down for the winter season. Scott Base has a heavy load of logistics to manage sending science teams out to finish their missions and prepare for the arrival of an entire year’s worth of supplies coming into port. Captain Walker and the crew of the US Coast Guard Icebreaker, Polar Star, are once again challenged by their aging ship as they try to finish the last stages of cutting a channel in the ice before they escort the Ocean Giant into port. Meanwhile, Graham Hill and the Mount Erebus team struggle to salvage as much data as they can from the volcano before they head home. Barbara Bollard Breen’s team carefully take digital pictures of Scott’s Hut’s historical site, and map the surrounding area by drone. In the Dry Valleys, Craig Cary leads an expedition for one more set of samples from the sediment before the helicopter comes to pick up his team from the field.

Continent 7: Antarctica – “Race to Escape”

Premieres Tuesday, December 20, National Geographic Channel 072

As winter approaches, field teams are finishing up their science for the season. It’s the last chance to obtain information for their research on the frozen continent. As most people are preparing to leave, a container ship is on its way in to supply the United States and New Zealand Antarctic research stations with food and materials needed for the skeleton crew that remains during the cold dark winter months.


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