In Tokyo, there are unapproachable "lost islands" with unspoiled environs and rich wildlife. Minami Iwo-to, part of the Ogasawara island chain, is about 1,300km from the Japanese capital. Normally, entry is banned to protect the environment. An exception was made in 2017 for the first comprehensive scientific survey in 10 years. The island compresses multiple climate zones into a small area, offering researchers a rare opportunity to view evolution in action. Braving an arduous climb and a swarm of seabirds, the team discovers one new species after another.
David Attenborough journeys to both Polar Regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet. David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be Open Ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. Next David travels to see what's happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level. Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It's not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.
The migration of the painted lady has long fascinated scientists, artists and nature lovers alike. The longest butterfly migration on earth, it sees millions of these delicate creatures travel from the desert fringes of north Africa, across thousands of miles of land and sea, before settling in the UK. However, the migration has never truly been understood, the mysteries of the painted lady never unravelled - until now.
2016 • Nature
Fresh water is our most precious resource and it defines the distribution of life on land. Follow the descent of rivers from their mountain sources to the sea. Watch spectacular waterfalls, fly inside the Grand Canyon and explore the wildlife below the ice in the world's deepest lake. Witness unique and dramatic moments of animal behaviour: a showdown between smooth-coated otters and mugger crocodiles; deep-diving long tailed macaques; massive flocks of snow geese on the wing and a piranha frenzy in the perilous waters of the world's largest wetland.