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PBS strand ‘Nova’ premieres digital series, slates “Polar Extremes” doc

PBS Digital Studios launched a science-focused YouTube channel, PBS Terra, on Wednesday (Jan. 29) as part of a new multi-media experience from the pubcaster’s science documentary strand ‘Nova.’ The channel debuts ...
January 30, 2020

PBS Digital Studios launched a science-focused YouTube channel, PBS Terra, on Wednesday (Jan. 29) as part of a new multi-media experience from the pubcaster’s science documentary strand ‘Nova.’

The channel debuts with the 10-part ‘Nova’ digital series Antarctic Extremes, about discovering what it takes to do scientific research in Earth’s most remote natural laboratory.

Hosts Caitlin Saks and Arlo Pérez set up shop at the largest research base in Antarctica, and embed with scientists and support staff to find out what its like to live, work and conduct scientific experiments in the southernmost continent. The hosts will also join researchers to investigate topics such as the secret to seal pup survival, the mystery of a blood-red glacier, and an underwater robot.

Each episode runs approximately seven to 10 minutes. The first episode, “Journey to the Bottom of the Earth,” follows Saks and Pérez as they embark on their journey to Antarctica.

“While our planet’s poles are scientific frontiers, PBS’s exploration of digital platforms and strategies for serving new online audiences continues to evolve,” Brandon Arolfo, head of PBS Digital Studios, said in a statement. “PBS Terra will serve as an ambitious new hub for science, nature, and other STEM content on YouTube and other platforms.”

In addition to Antarctic Extremes, the ‘Nova’s multimedia polar experience includes short-form videos, web articles, social media content and the Polar Lab, a free interactive game for teens.

It will culminate with Polar Extremes, a one-night, two-hour special for PBS by WGBH Boston, premiering Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Hosted by paleontologist Kirk Johnson, the special takes viewers on an adventure from pole to pole and back in time — 650 million years ago to present day — to uncover the story of the Earth’s poles and their changing climates.

Combined with 3D graphics of “long-lost” landscapes, Johnson — director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History — journeys through remote locations, including a gold mine in Yukon, Greenland’s largest glacier, fossil sites in Antarctica and more.

Polar Extremes will be available online and on the PBS Video app, and will air in its entirety on ‘Nova’s Facebook page.

“This is a truly eye-opening trip through time, because the poles not only changed in the past, they’re changing today,” Julia Cort, executive producer of Polar Extremes, said in a statement. “What forces were at work then, when the Arctic was a swamp or when Seattle was under three thousand feet of ice? And what’s happening now? Polar Extremes gives us an incredible opportunity to find potential parallels to our present — and future — climate story.”

The series is produced by Windfall Films for WGBH Boston. David Dugan serves as executive producer and director for Windfall Films; Lucy Haken is producer and director.

Series co-executive producers for ‘Nova’ are Cort and Chris Schmidt.

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