The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia
Wednesday, 03 January 2024 16:57

Visit the Arctic at Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. While you still can.

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Arctic 3Polar bears on Wrangel Island, Russia. As the sea ice melts each summer, more than 1,000 bears come to Wrangel to wait for the return of the sea ice. It's the largest concentration of polar bears on Earth. BBC Studios via Tennessee Aquarium

Learn how the Arctic still thrives in the face of existential climate threats in new IMAX film

Doug Strickland is a writer for the Tennessee Aquarium.

CHATTANOOGA — At first glance, the Arctic seems an impossibly inhospitable place, a frigid wasteland of extremes in which nothing can survive.

Only one-quarter of this vast polar region at the top of the world is made up of land. The rest is comprised of a glacially cold ocean capped by vast stretches of ice. 

Despite its harsh conditions, life has found a way to endure — and even thrive — in the Arctic. Audiences will meet just a few of the Arctic’s charismatic residents on Jan. 11, 2024 when the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater debuts a new giant-screen film, Arctic 3D: Our Frozen Planet

Benedict Cumberbatch takes you on a spectacular year-long adventure tour of the Arctic

Accompanied by the sonorous narration of Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, viewers will explore how the Arctic changes, season by season, while visiting locations such as Wrangel Island — home to the greatest concentration of Polar Bears on Earth — and Greenland, a landmass approximately four times the size of France and covered by a mile-thick ice cap. 

The latest offering from SK Films and BBC Earth, Arctic 3D, introduces viewers to a few species whose amazing adaptations allow them to survive in the Arctic.

Narwhals (aka the “unicorns” of the sea), Beluga Whales, and Polar Bears navigate the region’s ice floes, while Caribou and Muskox roam its upland tundra. Viewers will discover how Harp Seal mothers prepare their pups for independence in just 12 days and learn how Bowhead Whales become 100-ton giants on a diet of microscopic plankton. Scenes show how even bumblebees have found ways to succeed, against all odds, in this wild and unforgiving land at the top of the world. 

Exploration from perspectives never seen before

In creating Arctic 3D, filmmakers used unprecedented techniques to capture stunning 3D footage at global and microscopic scales. A few of their novel solutions included using microscopes to film ice cracking and showing how arctic ice caps advance and retreat through the use of motion-controlled time-lapses, drone flights, and directed satellite footage. 

The film has a human side, too. Audiences will discover how more than four million people across eight countries are racing to adapt to life in a landscape undergoing tremendous change as global temperatures warm.  

Opening night special with Marshall Shepherd

Viewers looking to expand their understanding of how life survives in extreme landscapes can take advantage of a special “pole-to-pole” event on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. This one-night-only double-feature will include a companion screening of Antarctica 3D as well as a presentation and Q&A on changes at the poles by weather-climate expert Dr. Marshall Shepherd.

The director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program, Dr. Shepherd is a leading international expert whose research focuses on urban climate, hydrometeorological extremes, weather-climate risk, and innovative outreach strategies. Dr. Shepherd hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks, an award-winning talk show and podcast. He is a highly sought-after speaker and frequent guest on Face The Nation (CBS), NOVA, The Today Show, CNN, and Fox News.  

Daily screenings of Arctic 3D begin Friday, Jan. 12. View showtimes, details, and tickets for all of the aquarium's IMAX 3D Theater films.

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Last modified on Friday, 12 January 2024 00:39