Skip to content

Frozen Planet: Off to the Cold Coast

Updated Monday, 12th April 2010

Mark Brandon is heading North - once more into the icy extremes of the planet.

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy

Hi. My name is Mark Brandon and I am Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science and member of the Science Faculty.

At heart, I am a research scientist and have spent my entire career studying the polar oceans around Antarctica and the Arctic. You can see the sorts of science I have published listed at the OU's Open Resarch Online, and on ResearcherID.

But of course a huge and exciting part of my job is creating teaching materials on environmental science for the University. You can see the courses I have written books for on my faculty home page, but you can sample a couple of chapters of Environment: Journeys through a Changing World in the LearningSpace.

I have also been working with the Open Broadcasting Unit on various TV series such as Coast and my favourite to date – Are We Changing Planet Earth? That was a pretty serious couple of programmes narrated by Sir David Attenborough about the state of the planet – and it won a lot of awards.

At the moment I am working on a really great project that combines both environmental science education and public outreach. The BBC Natural History Unit and Open University are working on a series called Frozen Planet , and allied to the series I am working on a Science Short Course about the science of the polar regions.

And that is the reason I am off to the Cold Coast or Svalbard.

Svalbard is a small archipelago on the edge of the Arctic Ocean and I will be up there for a week working alongside a BBC Frozen Planet film crew.

It seems a bit strange to be heading into the cold just as spring is arriving in Britain after our worst winter for many years, and as I am going so far north it is going to be pretty cold. Looking at the weather forecast for the week, when I land it is going to be below -10C.

That is nothing new to me as I have done a lot of polar fieldwork and wrote a blog on one recent trip for Open2. On that trip I started my blog with an entry called “heading for the global warming front line”. Over the last couple of weeks when I have told my friends I am heading north to do some climate related work some have been surprised.

"I thought global warming was over now – isn’t the world cooling?"

I wish.....

It may have been cold in northern Europe and North America but globally – so far 2010 is the third warmest year since 1880. There are a bunch of graphs and plots shwoing the warming on the NASA site.

Graph showing January-February mean surface temperature anomaly Creative commons image Icon NASA Goddard Institute For Space Studies. Full graphs comparing 1998, 2005 & 2010 available as a pdf download. under Creative-Commons license
Graphic showing January-February 2010 mean surface temperature & anomaly

If you look at part of the Arctic I am going to, it is in the warmest region on the plot. It is still the front line, and over the next couple of weeks I will be writing on this blog about what I find in the Arctic and the people I meet there.

Until the next entry...

Find out more

Explore OpenLearn's guide to climate change





Related content (tags)

Copyright information

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?