We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.
(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.
Something weird seems to be happening to our weather - it appears to be getting more extreme. In the past few years we have shivered through two record-breaking cold winters and parts of the country have experienced intense droughts and torrential floods. It is a pattern that appears to be playing out across the globe. Hurricane chasers are recording bigger storms and in Texas, record-breaking rain has been followed by record-breaking drought. Horizon follows the scientists who are trying to understand what's been happening to our weather and investigates if these extremes are a taste of what is to come.
As winter approaches, field teams are finishing up their science for the season. It's the last chance to obtain information for their research on the frozen continent. As most people are preparing to leave, a container ship is on its way in to supply food and materials to the skeleton crew that remains during the cold, dark winter months.