Open University research about polar climate reached millions of people through the prime time TV programme Frozen Planet.
Life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic is a theme which inspired the seven-hour BBC/OU co-production, Frozen Planet, presented by Sir David Attenborough.
Some of the research which informed the programme was carried by Dr Mark Brandon in the Faculty of Science at the OU who has spent over 20 years researching polar science.
Dr Brandon described and explained new evidence about the physics of the climate and behaviour of animals in the Earth’s poles, disseminating it to vast audiences and engaging the public with polar science, resulting, for example, in requests for 263,000 polar maps produced and made available by The Open University in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey.
Through the documentary, we provided the best evidence we have for why and how the Polar Regions are changing, and the potential impact on the rest of the planet.Dr Mark Brandon, Reader in Polar Oceanography
Frozen Planet was watched by an average of 10.8 million people per episode with a further 12 million views on BBC iPlayer, and it provided a focal point that changed the debate on polar climate change.
When the House of Lords Communications Committee questioned Sir David Attenborough as to the robustness of the evidence on environmental issues in Frozen Planet, he responded that it was based on solid science.
This evidence informed the debate around the UK Antarctic Bill as it passed through the Houses of Parliament as it raised issues such as krill (small crustacean) stocks in the southern ocean, the future of the Antarctic ice sheet and the state of the Arctic sea ice cover.