Swansea Professor comes face-to-face with climate change challenges in new S4C series

A brand new five-part documentary series presented by Professor Siwan Davies will take viewers on an emotional fact-finding mission from Greenland to the Maldives to see how climate change is affecting life on earth.

Her yr Hinsawddd begins in Greenland, where Professor Davies, Professor of Physical Geography at Swansea University, comes face-to-face with the effects of climate change as she goes to see a melting glacier.  

"It's frightening to witness the long-term effects of climate change and, in seeing the ice melting into the sea, I became even more concerned about its implications for the rest of the world," says Professor Davies.

Siwan DaviesProfessor Davies (left) has visited Greenland several times with her work, researching into natural climate change that has occurred in the past on Earth. Previously she's studied data and evidence from volcanic ash buried in the ice.

However, filming the series Her yr Hinsawdd was an eye-opening experience, as she met the people who have experienced the sombre consequences of climate change as the ice cap melts. She spoke to farmers in communities in Greenland, who have had to make great sacrifices to survive. She also visited another island that has experienced the dire effects of climate change, the Maldives. The population have had to adapt as sea levels rise, and threaten to destroy the low-lying terrain of the Maldives. 

"I'm a scientist, and I research data as part of my day-to-day work, but this time I've left the laboratory to see with my own eyes, how climate change affects communities. It's alarming to hear people's experiences, but it's also heartening to see how people are facing up to the climate change. I felt inspired when I saw how threatened communities are reacting and dealing with the challenges. I met a farmer, fisherman, a group of young people, all of whom felt under pressure to save their communities and their homes.”

Siwan Davies - Ynys Las / Greenland Professor Siwan Davies in Greenland

Thousands of tourists visit the tropical, picturesque islands of Maldives every year, famous for their beautiful beaches. But Professor Davies, who's originally from Newport in Pembrokeshire, was shocked to see the risks facing the Maldives, and how worried the islanders where for their future.  

"They welcomed me with open arms, they were so grateful that we had visited them and wanted to hear their story. They're worried that they'll lose their islands as the sea levels rise. In addition, the coral reefs are facing extinction. The coral is crucial to the islands as they shield the land from the sea waves, it also attract tourists and safeguards the fish, which is the only source of protein for the islanders.

"The United Nations supports local projects to safeguard the coral, and to plant thousands of trees, preventing the trees from eroding. The Maldives face a very uncertain future. It's quite likely that children born there today will end their lives as refugees as a result of climate change.

Siwan Davies - Maldives‌Professor Davies in the Maldives

"It's likely that 2016 will be the warmest year on record, and it's important that we react to this. We've recently experienced severe floods in Wales, and this is likely to increase in future. During the series we'll see many trees being planted by the people of Greenland and the Maldives to protect against flooding and erosion. However, planting trees is important for another reason – trees help extract greenhouse gasses that cause climate change in the atmosphere, C02. To make amends for the carbon footprint we've used during this series, the Her yr Hinsawdd crew planted 60 trees during filming."  

Her yr Hinsawdd starts on Tuesday 5 July at 9.30pm on S4C. English subtitles are available.