Over the last few years, our weather in Britain has become more extreme. Last winter was the wettest ever recorded, as deadly storms battered the country for weeks on end. But previous winters have seen bitter lows of -22, as Britain was plunged into a deep freeze. What everyone wants to know now is: why is our weather getting more extreme, can we expect to see more of it in the future, and has it got anything to do with climate change?
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.
All over the world, scientists are discovering traces of ancient floods on a scale that dwarfs even the most severe flood disasters of recent times. What triggered these cataclysmic floods, and could they strike again? In the Channeled Scablands of Washington State, the level prairie gives way to bizarre, gargantuan rock formations: house-sized boulders seemingly dropped from the sky, a cliff carved by a waterfall twice the height of Niagara, and potholes large enough to swallow cars. Like forensic detectives at a crime scene, geologists study these strange features and reconstruct catastrophic Ice Age floods more powerful than all the world’s top ten rivers combined. NOVA follows their efforts to uncover the geologic fingerprints of other colossal megafloods in Iceland and, improbably, on the seabed of the English Channel. There, another deluge smashed through a land bridge connecting Britain and France hundreds of thousands of years ago and turned Britain into an island for the first time. These great disasters ripped through terrain and transformed continents in a matter of hours—and similar forces reawakened by climate change are posing an active threat to mountain communities throughout the world today.
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.