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tv   Our World  BBC News  December 26, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm GMT

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this is bbc news. the headlines: the japanese prime minister has arrived in hawaii, 75 years before the japanese bombing of pearl harbor brought america into world more ii. he is visiting the memorial that honours the sailors and marines killed in the 1941 attack. there have been tributes from fans and fellow artists for george michael following his death at the age of 53. his partner says we will never stop missing him. dozens of ships are continuing the search for what remains for martian —— offa search for what remains for martian —— off a russian military plane that crashed into the sea. they hope that finding the black box will help them establish why it crashed. turkey has appealed for support to dry so—called islamic state fighters out of a key time. —— to dry. next
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up out of a key time. —— to dry. next upfor out of a key time. —— to dry. next up for are world, we went to antarctica tojoin up for are world, we went to antarctica to join scientists monitoring wildlife. there will be a lot of penguins. the only continent on earth with no native human population. but antarctica's coasts are teeming with life. so how can scientists study and protect that wildlife year—round through the harshest winter on the planet? i'm victoria gill and i'm following a team of scientists who are setting up remote cameras in penguin colonies here. here in the antarctic peninsula, penguins are largely declining. why? that's ok, bud.
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i want to understand what the threats are to penguins in this region and how to get rid of those threats. climate change is already having an impact on penguin populations here. so what can antarctica's most famous residents reveal about the future of our planet's greatest wilderness? we are on the shortest possible crossing to antarctica from the southern tip of argentina. it's actually quite hard to breathe when you put your face in the wind. it takes more than two days to cross the infamously rough southern ocean. we're about half a day's sail away from the antarctic peninsula, and i guess this is the weather they talk about when you've got
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to cross the drake passage. the winds are uninterrupted by any landmass. and yes, pretty brisk. we've got our first iceberg just over my shoulder, which is very exciting. it might look uninviting but this is a highly productive ocean. it's the foundation of the antarctic food chain. seabirds, including glider—like albatrosses, follow the ship throughout our 1000—kilometre voyage. but these displays are only a glimpse of why scientists make this journey and of what's to come. antarctica is this vast thermostat for planet earth, so we need to understand what's happening here, not just to protect its wildlife but to predict what's
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going to happen to our own climate in the future in places that are much more populated than this. there's a glimpse of antarctica, even more spectacular than i could have thought. gorgeous day, perfect day for camera setups. perfect day for penguins. on the deck of our ship, the ocean endeavour, i meet antarctic biologist dr tom hart. he's been working here for ten years and spent the last five setting up a network of penguin monitoring cameras. this is the first ofjust five days he'll have to work in the peninsula. so as soon as he spies the mainland he's making a plan. the harbour is at the eastern end of the bay. but a day like this here is rare. the sun's out and it's a balmy zero centigrade. landing ashore,
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though, can be risky. weather conditions can suddenly change and we have to be prepared. ok, a quick safety check, has everyone got water? tom and his team will go ashore more than a dozen times during this trip, but every landing is taken very seriously. ok, let's go. and it's notjust about personal safety, we have to protect the environment here too. this is the gangway on the side of the ship where we get onto a smaller boat. before we go ashore, we have to wash our boots. we can't take anything onto the antarctic mainland which wouldn't be there. it's just a short ride from the ship to reach the shore. but with relatively sparse sea ice, access to this bay and its nesting residents is smooth sailing.
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here in their hundreds, these are gentoo penguins. this is one of the cameras. right. as you can see there are a bunch of nests in view. this is the cool one, it takes a photo every hour all year which shows when they arrive, when they depart, the reproductive success, which chicks survive and which don't. but this has to survive an entire antarctic winter. it actually looks surprisingly simple to me. it's simple, very cheap, a basket of rocks that holds up the pole and that works. it's light so we can carry it up here, we can buy these locally or ship them round the world. these penguins provide scientists with a barometer of antarctic
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environmental change. the birds will return to this exposed rocky spot every year. gentoo nests painstakingly built from valuable bite—size stones that they seek out are vital to protect eggs and chicks from the ice—cold ground. as few as a quarter of these birds will survive their first year, but those that do will return to this site as adults to breed. what tom's camera's capturing here, and what he's come all this way to retrieve, is a rare glimpse of a whole year in that struggle against the elements. what we're going to do today is check this camera, change the batteries and the sd card, then that's good for another year. there are a number of threats to penguins. we understand some of them
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and we don't understand others. this is the equivalent of having 70—100 biologists all around antarctica and simultaneously recording and comparing notes, and they do that 365 days of the year without complaining how cold it is. with the first camera reloaded it's back to the ship to prepare for the first landing injust two hours. the ocean endeavour is the base for the scientists, but this isn't a research expedition, this is a tourist cruise. the researchers work in partnership with an american tour company, so they are amongst almost 200 holidaymakers on this trip, but nearly 40,000 tourists will have visited antarctica this season, hoping for close—up encounters like this. a century ago a place that explorers risked their lives just to set foot,
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antarctica is now an adventurous traveller's dream destination. the team has now installed 40 cameras throughout the peninsula. try and get it nice and tight. some like the one here on booth island are more difficult to reach than others. touring from place to place like this means they can visit up to three of these sites every day. they'll have their first glimpse of what the cameras captured when they are back aboard. for now the aim is to reach as many of their monitored colonies as possible. to make the most of every excursion once they've retrieved images from the camera, tom and his colleague, a phd student, set about gathering a very different type of information from the penguins. hey, buddy. so today i'm collecting
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a bit of guano sample, essentially penguin poo. i'm also getting a couple of swabs on some adults and chicks, and we're looking to see if the viruses and the microbes are shared from adult to chick since the adults regurgitate their food and feed their chicks. it's actually a fairly common procedure. i'm not sure it's ever been done on camera. sometimes it involves a little bit more defensive posturing on my part. it's ok, bud. but it's generally ok and pretty quick. it's ok. give it a stir, break it off. for antarctic biology, this is a very special site. all three species of penguin that inhabit the peninsula, gentoos, chinstraps and adelie penguins nest here together. for disease monitoring it's really cool to just be able to be
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in a place where we can see if diseases or bacteria and viruses are shared across the three species whether they are live together or not. this is a new vein of conservation research. very little is known about the impact of disease here. but along with climate change, that scientists have already linked to declines in chinstrap and adelie penguins, it is a suspected threat. this is an area where policies tend to be implemented that might be damaging and then only when the research shows that things are damaging are they reversed, i think it should be more pre—emptive and proactive. getting that data with the cameras and now getting the baseline disease data is a really important way to set things up properly for the future. this project provides scientists with antarctic cctv, wong a window into how exactly this environment is changing,
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and what might be done to help. having spent the day ashore captivated by the wildlife, i can't wait to see what the remote cameras have been gathering when there's no—one here to witness it. hello. at the end of each day the ship will move on, and it's during these journeys that tom finally has a chance to see what his cameras have captured. these are some of the cards you have got from this trip? this is everything from this morning and yesterday. has everything worked ? do you have... looks like it. great, that must be a relief. yeah, massive relief. looks really good. so that is a year in the life of that penguin colony. yes. that's amazing. the cameras captured a glimpse of every hour
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of an entire antarctic year. this network means researchers can see how penguin colonies are affected by weather, and by human activities like tourism and fishing. so you're just going to scroll through all these images? absolutely. this is the early stage of a long—term monitoring project, and it's has been revealing some unexpected information, including how penguins seem to use all that messy guano to melt the ice, leaving the rocks ready for nesting. the times when you are not here, seeing what is going on in winter is quite beautiful and something you would never get to see. no—one really sees these in the way we get to see them. another day, another messy journey to the next site. we sail through the stunning tourists gather on deck to take in the scenery and the wildlife, including this large pod of orcas. as we approach the end of this narrow passage,
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our path is blocked by sea ice, but that brings us even closer to some of antarctica's inhabitants. the icy platform these animals rely on looks substantial, but it is relatively thin and brittle. a careful nudge satisfies the crew that we can safely push through, and we are back on our way. over the course of the next few days, we visit ten different colonies. the team is also counting the birds, working closely with the us organisation oceanites. since 1994, they have been tracking migrations on this peninsula.
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but as their network grows, they are amassing millions of images, too much data for them to study on their own. the solution — enlisting the public‘s help. all of the images will go online, in a vast antarctic citizens‘ science project. the team wants as many eyes as possible helping them to monitor the birds‘ survival. for the first time, people really can take part in antarctic research from anywhere in the world. and we really need them, because we have millions of images. we can't do this without them. this will make a difference to how we manage antarctica. science is the one human activity that is truly prioritised and promoted in antarctica.
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in a land with no borders, where there has never been a war, a land that belongs to no state, 30 countries operate research bases. each one is a microcosm of national culture. and with antarctic summer tourism growing, many of them, like the ukrainian vernadsky research base, welcome visitors into their little world. it is the world's most remote gift shop. apparently if you leave your bra you can get a free shot of booze. i'm not going to do that. it is the relatively busy summer research season, and the scientists, all male, live and work on—base. the people running the gift shop and serving drinks at the bar are also botanists, marine biologists,
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and climate scientists. it is an isolated existence here, and just 12 men will make this place their home throughout the long antarctic winter. how is it to live here for 14 months? that's a long time. it is a long expedition. yeah. and during this expedition i made 105 dives. you dive there? yes. so you do marine research. i am a scuba diver. i made this by myself. that's lovely. we have, in winter, a lot of. this used to be a british research base. it was sold to ukraine in 1996, and with it an instrument that was key in a major antarctic discovery. this is the station where the ozone hole was discovered in 1985. a lot of ultraviolet comes here. without glasses don't go outside.
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only 20 minutes, you have red skin. it seems typical of an antarctic research base to find an instrument that gathered information that change the world in someone's bedroom. this is nobel prize—winning research that went on here. that is about as rock ‘n‘ roll as it gets in science. that's. .. that's amazing to see. for the tourists we're travelling with, this is a curious glimpse of the people who work here. but for these visitors, who are from all over the world and of a surprisingly wide age range, antarctica's allure is its landscape. how old are you? nine. nine, and is this yourfirst time in antarctica? yes. what do you think of it? it's awesome. all i can yell is look at god. this is god's hand, this is god's handiwork. i mean, it is stunning.
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you can tell stories, you can show your mates, "hey, i have these photos," but until you are actually here, it doesn't do itjustice. we're here to provide people a way to see this, and experience it, and build a relationship to it, and have a reason for it to be relevant to their lives. we're really attentive to impacts. so we have, you know, a series of guidelines that we follow, and the international association for antarctic tour operators is a really good example of industry advancing on regulation. you know, we have collectively decided we want to be really as light—handed as we can be on this environment, and these are the things we are going to do to do that. there is a certain paradox in the very fact of bringing large groups of people
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to a pristine environment. but by being on this cruise, these tourists are subsidising antarctic science. we have quite a close partnership. we would never have the access without them. they drop us off where we want to go, and in return we educate their tourists about conservation, and hopefully inspire them to conserve penguins. i wanna talk about life in the field, so... but even with scientists on board, should tourist ships visit antarctica at all? what does it make you feel to see a troop of tourists in yellow parkas walking along the shore? it gets odd, it's really odd. but the data suggests that tourism is not having an impact. there are far bigger threats, and these are threats that are actually going unchecked. because of tourism there has been clean—ups of scientific bases, and that's ongoing.
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it's actually only going to improve with the internet, and with people reporting the bad stuff. that's what actually forces governments to clean their act up. this is high—end ecotourism. tom's lectures are full. the passengers want to learn more about the environment they're visiting. but some of the travellers aboard have spent up to $15,000 to come here, so they want to have some fun. on this ship, one of the things you can do is an activity called polar plunge, which is pretty much what it sounds like. a dip in the sea. these people in front of me are queueing to jump into the sea in antarctica. the lack ofjudgement on display in this room is pretty phenomenal. i'm terrified. this has actual sea ice. swimming in near—freezing water is a one—off experience, in what for most will be a once—in—a—lifetime trip. how is it?
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holy bleep! how is it without swearing? it's cold. oh my god! with the waterjust a fraction of a degree above freezing, you can't swim for long. i managed to last just over 30 seconds. it's so cold! with experiences like this, and the brutal beauty of this place, you can see what brings a growing number of visitors. but what drives people like tom to spend months every year working here, and to keep coming back? i'm really trying to make a difference. but there's no doubt that this is personallyjust very very rewarding. sites like this, even when you're focused on the science, and you forget every now and then to look up, after a couple of hours you look up, and it's phenomenal.
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so yeah, there's really — yeah, kind of feeds your soul. so this is the last camera for this expedition now all checked? this one. and so i think that is... that's it for this year, for this camera, anyway. and now it's just to turn it on, and fingers crossed. so does that mean we can go back to the ship now for a cup of tea? yes, let's go. excellent. the penguins are unbelievably cute, but beyond that, they're such an important part of the ecosystem here. watching over that ecosystem as it responds to man—made threats like climate change, pollution and fishing will take time. but this project will eventually provide a view of the impact people are having on this environment and on the wildlife that inhabits our planet's last great wilderness. december has been very mild so far
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although it has now turned chillier. what will the new year bring us? stay tuned for that. high pressure is now taking over and settling the weather down, although it is going to cause problems of its own. a frosty start to the day in england and wales and some further north—west. more cloud for northern ireland and scotland, occasional showers in scotland but the wind will not be as strong as it was on boxing day. briefly it will be 6—7
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degrees before the temperature drops in the evening and frost develops. under this high pressure fog patches will develop and by the middle of the week it will be a real issue across england and wales. but a lot of people on the move, we are expecting some disruption from the dense fog. widespread frog across england and wales. —— widespread fog. otherwise plenty of sunshine. there will be more cloud in scotland and showers across western scotland primarily. it will be mild here, nearly double figures, but further south it will feel chilly and that is particularly the case with the fog lingers. that will happen in parts of the midlands, some southern counties, the fog could stick around
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all day and when that happens not expect temperatures much above freezing. by thursday there will be more fog, especially in england and wales, keeping it chilly. more breeze across northern ireland and scotland, particularly in the far north—west. relatively mild here compared with further south, especially britain is fog. on thursday into friday there are no huge changes but this weather front approaching the far north—west bringing persistent rain on a strengthening wind. the breeze. to pick up further south but i don't think it will prevent fog from forming again. it will stay especially chilly. the weather front over the far north—west will get its act together towards the weekend and it will move south eastwards with some heavy rain and a strengthening wind. potentially quite a wet and
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windy new year's eve. it will be dry that there will be an offer for breeze to shift the fog. the big picture shows this front across the north west on new year's eve. it is a cold front. behind that there is cold arctic air coming down across the country through new year's day. that is being heard by a kink in the jet stream. when you get a kink in the jet stream that bake it tends to prevent westerly wind from coming in so prevent westerly wind from coming in so what you get you would like to keep and the beginning ofjanuary will be cold and will be widespread frost. this is bbc news, i'm ben brown, the headlines at 10pm. tributes to the singer george michael, one of the biggest names in british music, who's died at the age of 53.
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i have never met a star who did not come from the same kind of insecurity. you know, it is the things that are missing that make you a star, not the things that you have. fans travel to the singer's homes in london and oxfordshire to pay their last respects as others around the world remember him. also tonight — russia recovers some of the fragments of a military plane which crashed into the black sea, with 92 people on board. at least four people are killed in the manila area as a powerful typhoon crosses the philippines' capital. bargain hunters turn out for boxing day sales but it's thought many have stayed home after already splurging
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