Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton are guided by professional mountaineer Kenton Cool, a veteran of twelve Everest summits. As they head up the mountain, into the notorious "death zone", physical exhaustion, extreme conditions and misfortune will test the pair to their limits, 65 years after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit. Since that day in 1953, more than 4000 people have successfully climbed Everest but nearly 300 climbers have died on her icy slopes. As Ben and Victoria begin their expedition and face their fears, they know Everest will be life-changing.
Scientists deployed to Antarctica are accustomed to frigid temperatures, but few have experienced the condition one storm that is sweeping over Scott Base and the Ross Ice Shelf. Scott Base shuts down all missions and flights to and from western Antarctica have been cancelled; leaving them more isolated from the outside world than ever.
In Episode 1: A Changing World, we see the changes that are upsetting the scientific predictions of the impact of climate change on the Arctic. Now, one sobering forecast is that the Arctic Ocean will be seasonally ice free by the summer of 2013. This possibility is what drives environmentalists to identify ways to minimize the changes affecting this snowy land. But for prospectors like Gordon McCreary, climate change brings new opportunities. He is part of the rush to claim the riches beneath the Arctic's ice: deposits of metals, gold, diamonds, and oil and gas.
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?
The last episode deals with the future of conservation. It begins by looking at previous efforts. The 'Save The Whales' campaign, which started in the 1960s, is seen to have had a limited effect, as whaling continues and fish stocks also decline.