Arctic Son

PBS Premiere: Aug. 21, 2007Check the broadcast schedule »

Links & Books


Arctic Circle

Arctic Council
A forum for cooperation, coordination and interaction between Arctic states, indigenous communities and other Arctic residents. At the Arctic Council's website, you'll find news and links to organizations that research the environmental, cultural and economic issues facing the region.

National Snow and Ice Data Center: The Arctic
The Arctic Circle is defined in three different ways: by latitude, tree line and temperature. Learn more about the Arctic's climate and check out a regional map of human habitation by tribe. NSIDC's site also explains optical phenomena such as aurora borealis and iceblink, which occur in the Arctic Circle.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Alaska: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Caribou, grizzly bears and peregrine falcons are among the many species that make their homes in the Arctic National Wildife Refuge. This website shares facts about the refuge's fauna. "A Family of Wolves" is an account of the day-to-day activities of a wolf family -- including the group's "babysitter."

U.S. Arctic Research Commission
Established in 1984, this government organization creates the policies that guide federal research and activity in the Arctic. Among its many publications is "Advancing Oil Spill Response in Ice-Covered Waters."

National Park Service: Gates of the Arctic
Known for spectacular, rugged landscape and year-round snowfall, Gates of the Arctic is a national park and reserve located in Alaska. This NPS site includes detailed information on the six spectacular rivers that have sustained ecosystems in the area for millennia.

Climate Change

National Geographic: Life at the Edge
The warming of the Arctic is already proving devastating to the region's animals. Learn more about the shrinking Arctic Ice Shelf with an interactive map and check out a slide show of Arctic fauna from National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen. (June 2007)

International Arctic Research Center
Scientists from around the world join forces through the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which synthesizes arctic research efforts that shed light on global climate change. The center's research projects are wide-ranging, from permafrost modeling to analyzing the biogeochemical makeup of the Bering Sea.

BBC: Arctic Voice
Welshman Glenn Morris travelled by kayak through the Arctic to raise awareness of climate change. At this BBC site you'll find films and audio clips chronicling his voyage. (June 2007)

Time: Global Warming Heats Up
This article explains how exactly the Arctic Ocean feedback loop might work. "Once you uncap the Arctic Ocean, you unleash another beast: the comparatively warm layer of water about 600 ft. deep that circulates in and out of the Atlantic." Meanwhile, permafrost is melting, which in turn releases even more CO2 -- and yet another feedback loop.

National Geographic: Freshwater Runoff into Arctic on the Rise, Scientists Say
Scientists have long worried that an influx of fresh water into the Arctic could dramatically slow down or even shut off the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation, the phenomenon that brings warm water to the North Atlantic region, dramatically affecting climate. (December 13, 2002)

Natural Resources Defense Council: Global Warming Puts the Arctic on Thin Ice
Why are global warming specialists watching the Arctic so closely? What kinds of changes are taking place in the Arctic now? Will Arctic ice melt have any effects beyond the polar region? This article from the NRDC answers some of the most pressing questions about why we should care so much about a place so remote. (November 22, 2005)

National Geographic: Arctic Melting Fast; May Swamp U.S. Coasts by 2099
An international study that included hundreds of scientists concluded that rising temperatures are likely to cause the melting of at least half the Arctic sea ice by the end of the century. (November 9, 2004)


Old Crow
According to Old Crow's official website, "Vuntut Gwitchin" means "People of the Lakes" and is a subset of the Gwitchin Nation, which extends across Alaska, the U.S. and the Canadian Northwest Territories. Visit the site to learn more about the Vuntut Gwitchin's music, social structure and diet.

Gwitchin Council International
About 9,000 Gwitchin live in communities in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. This organization looks out for the political interests of the Gwitchin. At the web site you'll find a description of each of the various communities.

Gwitchin Social and Cultural Institute
As the cultural and heritage arm of the Gwitchin Tribal Council, the GSCI was founded to help preserve Gwitchin traditions. Check out a map of the area populated by Gwitchin and photographs related to Gwitchin people, clothing, history and archaeology.

CBC News: Gwitchin Step Up Measures to Protect Porcupine Herd
Two different native groups -- Tetlit Gwitchin and the Inuvialuit -- faced off in a fight over how aggressively caribou in the region should be hunted. (September 13, 2006)

Also on PBS and NPR Websites

Nature: The Living Edens: Arctic Oasis
Follow one 12-year-old Inuit boy's journey into adulthood as he and his father go on an extended hunting trip in the Arctic.

NOW: The Heat Over Global Warming
David Brancaccio talks with Laurie David, a producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary An Inconvenient Truth and a major environmental activist. (January 26, 2007)

National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth: One Degree Factor
At the website of this program that covered how global warming is jeopardizing the future of particular species, experts discuss just how dependent the Gwitchin are on caribou, a species whose numbers are rapidly declining. (April 20, 2005)

Nova: Arctic Passage
For explorers of the 19th century, a route through the Arctic's Northwest Passage was the Holy Grail. Learn about a legendary expedition through frozen waters in "Arctic Passage." (February 28, 2006)

Online NewsHour: The Debate over ANWR drilling
As the Senate considers a bill [later passed] that included drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, two experts debate whether the refuge is a barren wasteland or fragile wilderness in need of protection. (November 2, 2005)

Online NewsHour: The Arctic's Melting Glaciers
The place that the Inuit call "The Land that Never Melts" is, in fact, melting. Watch this video examination of how global warming is affecting those who live in the Arctic. (May 11, 2005)

Scientific American Frontiers: Hot Planet -- Cold Comfort
Glaciers are melting in Arctic regions east and west, and global warming is already affecting Alaska. Learn more about how global warming might affect you. (April 16, 2005)

Scientific American Frontiers: Hot Times in Alaska
The Arctic is the planet's thermostat, and a sensitive one at that. Scientists explain why warmer temperatures in Alaska are cause for alarm. (June 15, 2004)

NPR Stories

Weekend Edition Saturday: Arctic Team Studies Global Warming, Inuit Culture
A team of seven explorers - including three Inuit hunters - embarks on a 1,200-mile journey across Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.Traveling by dogsled, the expedition spends time in local villages discussing the effects of global warming on Inuit cultures. A project of the Will Steger Foundation, the team will communicate with and educate online participants around the world. (February 24, 2007)

Day to Day: Alaska Joins Legal Battle Against Emissions Rules
Alaska is known as the early warning system of climate change, but the state has joined the legal fight against government regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. Many Alaskans are angry that their state is joining the EPA's opposition to greenhouse-gas rules in a landmark case now before the Supreme Court. (February 15, 2007)

Talk of the Nation: Global Warming and the Politics of Polar Bears
Scientists are concerned that the habitats of polar bears might be melting. The debate may affect the environmental philosophy of the Bush administration. Guests explain how the driving factor might be global warming and chemical pollutants carried toward the Arctic Ocean. (January 3, 2007)

All Things Considered: Climate Change May Put Polar Bear on Threatened List
The federal government says climate change threatens the polar bear with extinction, and the efforts under way to arrest global warming will not be adequate to save the mighty Arctic predator. (December 27, 2006)

All Things Considered: Climate Change Cited in Siberian Landscape Shift
Siberia is melting. Vast tracts of Russian tundra, frozen for tens of thousands of years, are starting to thaw. Many experts say the process is taking place so fast they can only attribute it to the effects of global warming. (September 18, 2005)

Day to Day: Inuit Group Confronts Global Warming Threat
Hundreds of Inuit meet in Alaska to discuss global warming and other matters critical to their survival. Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the chairwoman of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, talks with Alex Chadwick about how global warming has impacted life in the north. (July 14, 2006)

All Things Considered: Researchers Race to Catalog Arctic Species
The Arctic Ocean is home to species completely unknown to science -- and also a place of rapid change. The summertime ice is melting and could be gone entirely by the end of the century. (September 28, 2006)

Morning Edition: The Arctic's "Hidden Ocean"
The Arctic Ocean is one of the most unexplored places on Earth. It's also changing rapidly -- in the summer, sea ice is melting more quickly than usual, due to rising air temperatures. These changes could have serious consequences for Arctic ecosystems. An expedition this past summer set out to survey the biological diversity of the Arctic Ocean, and what species are at risk. (September 28, 2005)

Morning Edition: Native Americans
As the circumstances and conditions of Native American life have evolved over the past half-century, Native American identity has struggled to keep pace. In the latest installment of the Changing Face of America series, NPR's Cheryl Corley examines what it means to be an American Indian at the beginning of the new century. (January 31, 2001)

Morning Edition: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
In the latest National Geographic Radio Expedition, NPR's Elizabeth Arnold travels to a small village north of the Arctic Circle, home of the Gwitchin Indians. These Indians live along the migratory path of a single herd of caribou that pass by the village on their way to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Experts say that underneath the refuge lies the most promising field of oil in North America. The Indians want the animals permanently protected from drilling under the refuge. (December 28, 1998)

Morning Edition: Alaska's Rural Hunters
NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that an old dispute between Alaska and the federal government is threatening one of the state's most cherished freedoms -- the right to manage its subsistence hunting and fishing. The federal government says rural residents who need the food to survive should have priority over hunters who have the luxury of shopping in grocery stores. In 1982, Alaska residents approved the rural preference. Since then, the state's governors have tried unsuccessfully to amend Alaska's constitution, which prohibits any special access to wildlife. (October 2, 1997)