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NOVA: Doomsday Volcanoes

The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 turned much of the northern hemisphere into an ash-strewn no-fly zone. But Eyjafjallajökull was just the start. Katla, an Icelandic volcano 10 times bigger, has begun to swell and grumble. Two more giants, Hekla and Laki, could erupt without warning. Iceland is a ticking time bomb: When it blows, the consequences will be global. In NOVA's "Doomsday Volcanoes," meet scientists trying to understand those consequences — for air travel and for the global food supply and Earth’s climate. Could we be plunged into years of cold and famine? What can we do to prepare for the coming disaster?

Anja Schmidt uses a rock hammer to retrieve a lava sample

Anja Schmidt uses a rock hammer to retrieve a lava sample

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Frey and Sigrun surveying the volcanic landscape, Iceland.

Frey and Sigrun surveying the volcanic landscape, Iceland.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Frey and Sigrun explore the inside of a volcano in a cage.

Frey and Sigrun explore the inside of a volcano in a cage.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Frey, Sigrun and others explore the inside of a volcano.

Frey, Sigrun and others explore the inside of a volcano.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Elevated view of a glacier.

Elevated view of a glacier.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Valley with a snowy mountain, Iceland.

Valley with a snowy mountain, Iceland.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Icebergs in water with small boat and mountains in the background, Iceland.

Icebergs in water with small boat and mountains in the background, Iceland.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Elevated view of bridge over a river and house in the foreground with mountains in the background.

Elevated view of bridge over a river and house in the foreground with mountains in the background.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

Chris Hayward inspects a volcanic rock sample at his desk.

Chris Hayward inspects a volcanic rock sample at his desk.

Credit: Courtesy of Edward Watkins/Darlow Smithson Productions

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