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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

NOVA: Secrets Beneath The Ice

Airs Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

A tent below the headwall of a glacier at Dave Marchant's field camp in Beaco...

Credit: Courtesy of Brian Seifferlein

Above: A tent below the headwall of a glacier at Dave Marchant's field camp in Beacon Valley. Can Antarctica’s climate past offer clues to what may happen to our warming planet? To gather crucial evidence, NOVA follows an ambitious Antarctic investigation — a state-of-the-art drill­ing probe known as ANDRILL.

Almost three miles of ice buries most of Antarctica, cloaking a continent half again as large as the United States. But when an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Manhattan collapsed in less than a month in 2002, it shocked scientists and raised the alarming possibility that Antarctica may be headed for a meltdown.

Even a ten percent loss of Antarctica's ice would cause catastrophic flooding of coastal cities unlike any seen before in human history. What are the chances of a widespread melt?

"Secrets Beneath the Ice" explores whether Antarctica's climate past can offer clues to what may happen. NOVA follows a state-of-the-art expedition that is drilling three-quarters of a mile into the Antarctic seafloor.

The drill is recovering rock cores that reveal intimate details of climate and fauna from a time in the distant past when the Earth was just a few degrees warmer than it is today.

As researchers grapple with the harshest conditions on the planet, they discover astonishing new clues about Antarctica's past—clues that carry ominous implications for coastal cities around the globe.

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Preview: NOVA: Secrets Beneath The Ice

Can Antarctica’s climate past offer clues to what may happen to our warming planet? To gather crucial evidence, NOVA follows an ambitious Antarctic investigation — a state-of-the-art drill¬ing probe known as ANDRILL. Drilling deep beneath the Antarctic ice, down through the sea and three-fourths of a mile into the seafloor, ANDRILL recovers rock cores that reveal intimate details of climate and fauna from a time in the distant past when the Earth was just a few degrees warmer than it is today.

Fastest Glacier

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

A glacier moving way too fast reveals how unpredictable the effects of global warming can be.

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