True north: Simon Armitage goes to Arctic research station
Poet laureate Simon Armitage has travelled to the UK Arctic Research Station, pictured, where he will create new works inspired by the visit. The UK Arctic Research Station is managed and operated by British Antarctic Survey (BAS), and part of the international research community at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, said to be the world’s northern-most community of up to 150 people.
Simon Armitage previously worked with BAS on a commission to commemorate naming of the new Royal Research Ship, the ice-breaker Sir David Attenborough in 2019. The poem, ‘Ark’, illustrated the impact of pollution and climate change on the natural environment, and called for polar science to help humans understand and reverse this damage.
The dramatic changes in the Arctic are the fastest occurring worldwide. Beyond the more visible changes to sea ice and glaciers, scientists are now concerned that potential tipping points are being reached in the Arctic, making environmental changes irreversible. Previously dormant or unconsidered feedback processes are kicking in and contributing to the acceleration of global climate change, such as the release of carbon trapped in permafrost, and nutrient and freshwater movement driving the deoxygenation and acidification of the ocean.
The visit will be part of a series of radio documentaries about Simon Armitage to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in October.