Iain travels into the stratosphere in a Cold War fighter, gets his eyebrows singed in Siberia and discovers why Argentina is one of the stormiest places on Earth. All to show why our atmosphere is unique and utterly crucial for life.
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Volcanoes have a fearsome reputation. In reality, they are the most important force in the creation of the planet as we know it today. Iain abseils into a lava lake and cave dives in a cenote to show how the heat that fuels volcanoes also drives some of the most fundamental processes on the planet.
Ice may be nothing more than frozen water but, as Iain explains, it holds extraordinary power. Descending 150m down a frozen waterfall, he sees a glacier in action from below and discovers why the huge Jacobshaven glacier is retreating, he shows how it shaped our past and may now threaten our future.
(PART 1) A team of experts and explorers venture into the Danakil desert in Northern Ethiopia to investigate the incredible geology of the area, and to find out how the people and their animals survive in the hottest place on earth. Kate Humble investigates how tough life is for an Afar woman; Steve Leonard wants to learn about the relationship between the Afar and their animals, and to help with animal medicine where he can; Dr Mukul Agarwal looks at the health issues faced in this most hostile of environments; earth scientist Dougal Jerram looks at the extraordinary volcanic activity of the region and the part it plays in the bigger geological picture of the Rift Valley; and biologist Richard Wiese searches for extreme life forms in the boiling soil of a massive volcanic fissure.
Dr Helen Czerski reveals how shifting ocean water distributes heat and nutrients around the Earth. This process is linked to almost every aspect of human existence, and the lecture explores how dependent we are on the ocean for weather, food supply and connection between land masses - as well as exploring what needs to be done by humans to maintain this vital element of the Earth's ecosystem.
Earthquakes have always been a terrifying phenomenon, and they’ve become more deadly as our cities have grown — with collapsing buildings posing one of the largest risks. But why do buildings collapse in an earthquake? And how can it be prevented? Vicki V. May explains the physics of why it is not the sturdiest buildings, but the smartest, that will remain standing.
The cloud forests in the Andes of Ecuador are among the most species-diverse landscapes on Earth. These beautiful forests are under threat. They have to give way to fields and cow pastures. But there are conservationists who want to stop the clearing of the cloud forests.
The Hawaiian Islands are a study in contradictions. The fastest growing islands on earth are also the fastest disappearing. Made of one of the hardest minerals, it crumbles at a touch. The world's most active volcano is nowhere near the typical volcanic regions. Geologists strive to understand these mysteries.