Since 1974, NOVA has trailblazed in the field of science journalism to become the most popular science series on American television. Both on television and online, NOVA presents an encompassing picture of today's scientific issues founded on solid inquiry, cutting edge research and expert testimony. Among these, NOVA has investigated and reported on the marvels of Earth, its diversity and environmental issues affecting our planet and the way we live our lives. Below are some videos, interactives, articles and audio pieces on Earth’s phenomena and environmental issues shaping our lives. Follow the links to investigate more.
Weather and Climate
Multiple times over the past few years, local weather has taken a devastating toll on communities around the United States. What is the science behind these severe weather events? NOVA’s “Deadliest Tornadoes” asks why the 2011 tornado season was the worst in decades, and examines how to improve our methods for tornado prediction. And the documentary “Inside the Megastorm” looks at the impact of Hurricane Sandy, and gives scientific context to a new breed of storms. Also, how might climate change be influencing hurricanes, and what we can do to protect our cities from storm surges?
Our ability to predict severe weather may be in peril, too. In 2016, it’s likely that the weather satellite that helped predict Hurricane Sandy’s turn into the East Coast will stop working, and the planned replacement won’t be ready in time. That same satellite is what also gives us 7-10 day forecasts, and it’s not the only one that’s in danger of going blind.
What would happen to the Earth if global temperatures continued to rise and ice began melting at an alarming rate? The documentary "Secrets Beneath the Ice" follows scientists on an expedition to Antarctica as they investigate the disappearance of an ice shelf the size of Manhattan and the real possibility of a catastrophic meltdown that would flood coastal cities and cause a global crisis. In an effort to understand the chances of a widespread melt of the world’s glaciers, scientists drill into the Antarctic seafloor to gather evidence on the Earth’s past and its climate trends. Along the way, they discover clues that carry ominous implications for coastal cities around the globe.
The Earth’s appearance is far from stagnant, continuously changing throughout time between Ice Ages and thaws. Explore this interactive to see what would happen if all of Greenland's ice or all of Antarctica's ice melted. In the documentary "Extreme Ice," NOVA joins photojournalist James Balog as he documents the effects of rising global temperatures on some of the world’s most amazing and icy landscapes. Balog artfully utilizes time-lapse photography to illustrate the rapidity with which glaciers are splitting apart and collapsing before our very eyes and provides bold, unsettling evidence of the reality of global warming.
Related material, from FRONTLINE: Polluted and poisoned waters in America are caused by normal household items
For something we use every day, energy is a pretty mysterious concept. NOVA’s Energy Lab explores what energy is, how it can be converted into useful forms, and why some sources are running low. It also looks at a number of renewable energy technologies, and allows you to design renewable energy systems for cities across the U.S. based on real data.
Can we make the chemicals we use “greener?” Or, the packaging for our food less wasteful? NOVA has reported on a number of multimedia stories, many in collaboration with PRI’s The World, on technologies that could help us toward a more sustainable future—from rain water harvesting systems in Mexico City to up-and-coming eco-friendly fibers…made from hagfish slime!
With increasing demands for technology and energy and rising constrains on fossil fuel usage and mining, people are innovating cleaner alternatives for generating, storing and distributing energy. NOVA’s "Making Stuff: Cleaner" explores developments in sustainable materials, from hydrogen to solar energy and bio-fuels. By limiting our energy consumption and switching to cleaner energy technologies, we may help stifle the drain on the world’s natural resources, preserve nature’s beauty and slow global warming. Do you know what your carbon footprint is and where the carbon goes? How could we convert algae into a biofuel? Can we pull excess carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere? If we can, then what do we do with it?
What can we do to bounce back from ecological destruction? NOVA Next takes a look at the burden of environmental collapse in North Korea.
Related Material, from PBS KIDS: Find your own carbon footprint with this calculator
Marvels of Earth and Nature
The Earth is an incredible place. Located in the “goldi-locks” orbit of our solar system, Earth proves its potential for harboring an amazing array of life forms with great capacities -- everything from microscopic organisms on our skin to dogs that can understand thousands of terms and behaviors. What are some of the animals that show the most promise in the laboratory? Spiders, leeches and snakes. There are monarch butterflies who migrate thousands of miles annually to a place they have never been before, frogs that freeze solid every winter, creatures that camouflage themselves to near invisibility, ocean dwellers that glow in the dark, and walruses that speak. Recently, scientists have found that plants can have family values, slime molds can be smart, and rats may know right from wrong. Learn all about animal morality and the "swarm intelligence" of a honeybee hive in NOVA scienceNOW’s “What Are Animals Thinking?” And discover the lengths scientists are going to to find and protect Earth’s biodiversity.
What are the web of connections that sustain life on this planet? And how do we know about them? In NOVA’s “Earth From Space,” witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon, and how a vast submarine “waterfall” off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world, all from data generated by satellites. Then, in “Australia’s First 4 Billion Years,” travel back in time to Earth’s very beginnings and learn how life has evolved using clues from the land down under.
How does the Earth recycle? Photosynthesis. What is the oldest flowering plant in the world? The Archaefructus liaoningensis, which was discovered in China. Learn how scientists classify all of Earth's life forms into a hierarchy, and see how some of Nature's toughest, stickiest and cleanest materials are inspiring new products.
Any way you examine it, the Earth continues to amaze us, teaching us about the past and providing insight into our future.
Related material, from American Experience: Listen to whales speaking, with four distinct vocalizations.
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