Climate communication – Bremen media students meet polar scientists

Gletscher im Panormablick

The polar ice is melting. Where glaciers on the Nordic archipelago of Spitsbergen ended in the sea ten years ago, bare rocks are now visible for kilometres. There could hardly be more striking images of global warming. Images that shock. Can the Arctic still be saved? For more than two years, the EU research project FACE-IT, led by marine biologists from the University of Bremen, has been exploring this question. What exactly are the researchers investigating? And what solutions are they arriving at? In the winter semester, around 20 media students from Bremen were able to find out directly from the source and develop a comprehensive FACE-IT media package from interviews, photos and research videos.

Of six glaciers in the Kongsfjorden on Spitsbergen, only three end in the sea, Professor Kai Bischof told the media studies students during his introduction to the EU project. The Uni Bremen marine biologist is the FACE-IT project coordinator. "In Kongsfjorden there are tiny algae encased in ice, a unique species that is at the beginning of a long food chain. If these algae disappear due to warming water, a whole ecosystem will change there." More than 60 scientists from 13 renowned international institutes and universities are working on FACE-IT. At seven project sites in Greenland, northern Norway and Spitsbergen, they are investigating how climate change is altering biodiversity in the Arctic. "But the main concern of FACE-IT is to develop solutions and proposals for how to reduce and ideally also successfully manage the impacts of climate change," says Dr Simon Jungblut, marine biologist at the University of Bremen. "We call this adaptive co-management, and that also involves the people and societies in the Arctic regions that have to respond to climate change.”

The annual FACE-IT project meeting was held in Bremen at the end of November in the Haus der Wissenschaft, for the first time in person after two pandemic years. For the international students in the English-language Digital Media and Society master's programme (Faculty 9 – Cultural Studies), the meeting offered an ideal opportunity to listen to lectures, meet researchers and conduct interviews. Later, the students viewed hundreds of photos and videos that had already been made by the polar researchers. Fascinating images from the Arctic, which the media students combined with their interviews to create several short videos, five articles and a complete social media toolbox. As an additional contribution to earn more required credit points, three Erasmus students from Spain also created a brochure using the project’s existing brand identity. "The theoretical concept for our work is based on constructive journalism, which in times of often alarmist crisis reporting focuses on solutions and actors looking for solutions," explains seminar leader Christoph Sodemann. "It was all a lot of effort," says a course participant from Mexico, "but for us it was great that we had direct contact with the scientists and could produce something that is now actually being used by FACE-IT."