From Asia to Antarctica, to the Arctic and back

17 June - Stockholm. We’re sitting here in what must be the world’s most expensive airport bar, because the world’s tiniest sandwich and a bowl of pasta just cost us S$38. We didn’t want to be here. We were supposed to be in Tromsø, Norway yesterday but FinnAir cancelled our flight without reason and offered us either another flight and an additional eight-hour bus journey to get there, or stay a night in Helsinki and get a morning flight out.  

Exhausted from our 20-hour journey from Singapore so far, we took the option of getting a night’s rest. It was disorientating – going from Singapore’s regular day and night-time hours, to an environment when it’s bright and sunny for almost 24 hours. And worryingly, one of the UV filters on our lenses cracked– carrying eight cameras, eight lenses and 15 batteries between both of us is tough. We get stopped at every airport security check, we are both carrying three heavy bags each, and both our backs hurt.  

But we’ve done this before, and we’re doing it again. Last year, we journeyed to Antarctica to document what was happening on the continent and the result was From Asia to Antarctica, a short documentary that featured in our Changing Course film and photography exhibition in 2018. This year, we decided to head North to chronicle the complex climate stories unfolding at the other polar region. On the other end of the Earth, the Arctic is similar in climate but vastly different from Antarctica. While Antarctica is a huge land continent covered with an ice shelf, the Arctic is an ocean and made up of various islands that belong to a handful of countries in the North.  

The Arctic is warming twice as fast compared to the rest of the world, and is the most visible manifestation of climate change that we’ve seen in recent years. We want to document what is happening there and tell that story, especially to those close to home: Asia, the world’s fastest growing region. 

As a result of the cancelled flight, we are losing a precious day of filming, but to make the best of it, our contact Line from Arctic Frontiers have arranged some interviews for us at the Fram Centre for us when we arrive at 4pm, even though the Centre would be closed by then.

We are looking for fresh stories – perspectives from scientists and people living and working on this frontline – and we will bring that home.

Views from the docks at Tromso, Norway, outside the Fram Centre. Image: Eco-Business