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'Ice People' documentary premieres on Sundance Channel

The scientific discoveries of NDSU geoscientists Allan Ashworth and Adam Lewis are highlighted in the documentary “Ice People,” that premiered on the Sundance Channel on May 5. Additional airings are set for May 6 and May 10. In the documentary, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Anne Aghion offers a rare glimpse of scientists at work under extreme physical conditions. The film documents the geologists’ fieldwork, while capturing the austere beauty of Antarctica.

As noted in a USA Today article titled “Ice People takes you to scientists’ extreme lab,” the film shows the cold and sometimes backbreaking fieldwork conducted by scientists Ashworth and Lewis and NDSU students Kelly Gorz and Andrew Podoll. An international team of scientists headed up by Ashworth and Lewis and David Marchant, an earth scientist at Boston University, combined evidence from glacial geology, paleoecology, dating of volcanic ashes and computer modeling, to report a major climate change centered on 14 million years ago.

Ashworth, University Distinguished Professor of geosciences, notes in the film, “To be in a place which is so underexplored, as a geologist, and to have the opportunity of making a discovery is pretty powerful medicine for a geologist.” According to Lewis, the discovery of lake deposits with perfectly preserved fossils of mosses, diatoms and ostracods are particularly exciting to scientists. “They are the first to be found even though scientific expeditions have been visiting the Dry Valleys since their discovery during the first Scott expedition in 1902-03,” said Lewis.

Documentary filmmaker Aghion spent four months at the U.S. research station McMurdo, camping out for seven weeks with Ashworth and his research crew as they studied fossilized vegetation in Antarctic lakebeds. The film “Ice People” has been screened at science museums and film festivals in Australia, Vancouver, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Jerusalem and Fargo. Select theaters across the U.S. also will show the film in the coming months.

The research of Ashworth is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation’s Polar Programs. The film “Ice People” is a co-production of Dry Valleys Productions, ARTE France, ITVS International, in association with Sundance Channel and is produced with a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.

For more information:

Ice People Takes You To Scientists’ Extreme Lab
USA Today

Ice People on Sundance Channel

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Allan Ashworth, NDSU

Adam Lewis, NDSU

Ice People

Science Magazine
“Freeze-Dried Findings Support a Tale of Two Ancient Climates”

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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