The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of planet, and that has big consequences for all of us. But satellite images of melting sea ice don't begin to tell the whole story. Four million people live in the Arctic, and they’ve been dealing with the effects of climate change for decades. We wanted to hear from them in this pivotal moment — when the ground is literally shifting beneath their feet.

For Threshold season two, we went on a circumpolar journey to find out what the Arctic is, how it is changing, and why that matters.

We traveled on four-wheelers and fishing boats, bush planes and dog sleds. We camped out on the Greenland ice sheet with a team of scientists and hung out with Inuit rock stars in Canada. We visited all eight Arctic countries, and we discovered countless stories unfolding in the far north. Climate change is just the tip of the iceberg.

Major sponsorship for season two of Threshold was provided by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


Episode 1: The Water is Wide

In Shishmaref, Alaska, no one’s asking if climate change is real. What they want to know is how bad it has to get before the world decides to act.

EPisode 2: Invisible Hands


When a major storm hit Shishmaref, Alaska in 2005, the town became a poster child for climate change in the Arctic. Dramatic pictures of houses falling into the sea showed up in news outlets around the world. But the story here starts way before that storm.




All across the Arctic, frozen soil is thawing out. A lot of stuff is buried there – plants and animals that lived more than 10,000 years ago. What happens when a Paleolithic bison bone starts to decompose for the first time? And what does that have to do with climate change?

Episode 4: Becoming Arctic, Becoming Human


An eight-ton concrete ball and a 32,000-year-old needle collection. What's all this got to do with the Arctic? Find out on this episode of Threshold.

Episode 5: Just Decide


Everyone's heard of Vikings – their daring North Atlantic voyages, their mysterious runes. But there's another ancient culture in Arctic Scandinavia that's much older, and just as fascinating – the Sámi. While the Vikings have been celebrated, Sámi music, language and traditions were forced underground. Why?

Episode 6: The Things I Can See On The Mountains


After thousands of years of tradition, a shifting climate is forcing changes in the way Sámi families herd reindeer. But some climate solutions are also threatening their way of life. This is the story of the Aleksandersens, a Sámi reindeer herding family in northern Norway.

Episode 7: Hello, Central!


If there's one thing everybody's heard about the Arctic, it's that sea ice is melting, and that's bad news. But what's less well-known is that some people see opportunity in sea ice loss. This time, take a seat in the captain's chair of a Finnish icebreaker, sing along with a very musical Alaskan mayor, and find out what it means when the world gets a whole new ocean.

Episode 8: Oil and Water

What happens when the thing you can’t live without in the short term is the same thing that threatens your very existence in the long term? That’s our question for this episode, viewed through the eyes of two whalers from Utqiagvik, Alaska.


Russia has more land in the Arctic than any other nation. It's also a regime that does not tolerate dissent. What does this mean for residents of Murmansk, the Arctic's largest city?

Episode 10: Nickel For Your Thoughts


Half of the Arctic is in Russia, and half of Russia is in the Arctic. Oil, minerals, pollution — it's a web of complicated environmental stories that need to be told. But in Russia, investigative journalists have become an endangered species. Spend some time around a nickel smelter and meet a veteran journalist fighting to do his job.

Episode 11: Life Is Too Hard Without Music


All across the Arctic, indigenous languages are on the decline. But in many communities, people are finding new ways to reclaim both language and culture. Join some Inuit rockers in northern Canada in the recording studio, singing in their own language and making their first new studio album in more than 30 years. 

Episode 12: Here Be Dragons

The Greenland ice sheet is basically a giant ice cube the size of Alaska. What happens when it melts? We spent five days camping out on the ice with a team of scientists who are trying to find out.

Episode 13: Try Harder

Eighteen months of reporting. All eight Arctic countries. So many fascinating people. On the final episode of season two of Threshold, we pull back a little and try to see the big picture. Join us as we bust some myths, travel back in time in a Swedish forest, and search for road maps into the future.

Extra - Blowing in the Wind: Aleksandersens Update


We're following up on the story of a Sámi reindeer herding family in northern Norway – Risten and Reiulf Aleksandersen and their kids. As we learned in episode six, climate change is disrupting this family’s herding traditions. But over the last year, they’ve also been heavily impacted by a new wind farm that's going in on grazing grounds. Amy Martin visited them in January to get an update.

Extra - What Have You Done for Me Lately?

14k years.jpg

What do "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice and "What Have You Done for Me Lately" by Janet Jackson have to do with the Arctic and climate change?

Find out in this season two special, which will take you on a journey into a permafrost tunnel near Fairbanks, Alaska. This tunnel is sort of a Paleo-museum, a network of human-made caves full of mammoth tusks, bison horns, and clumps of 20,000-year-old grass. All of which is frozen—for now.


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