(PART 2) 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.
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.
NOVA follows a team of volcano sleuths as they embark on a worldwide hunt for an elusive volcanic mega-eruption that plunged the medieval earth into a deep freeze. The mystery begins when archaeologists find a hastily dug mass grave of 4,000 men, women, and children in London. At first they assume it's a plague pit from the Black Death, but when they date the bones, they're a century too early. So what killed off these families? The chronicles of that time describe a run of wild weather that devastated crops and spread famine across Europe. NOVA's expert team looks for the signature of a volcanic eruption big enough to have blasted a huge cloud of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, which chilled the entire planet. From Greenland to Antarctica, the team finds telltale "fingerprints" in ice and soil layers until, finally, they narrow down the culprit to a smoldering crater on a remote Indonesian island. Nearly 750 years ago, this volcano's colossal explosion shot a million tons of rock and ash into the atmosphere. Across the globe, it turned summer into winter. What would happen if another such cataclysm struck again today?
Never before in human history have we been richer, more advanced or powerful. And yet we feel overwhelmed in the face of rapid climate change. It seems simple on the surface. Greenhouse gases trap energy from the Sun and transfer it to our atmosphere. This leads to warmer winters, harsher summers. Dry places become drier and wet places wetter. Countless ecosystems will die while the rising oceans swallow coasts and the cities we build on them.