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NOVA: Polar Extremes

Penguin on the ice. Following a trail of fossils found in all the wrong places — beech trees in Antarctica, redwoods and hippo-like mammals in the Arctic — NOVA uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-thick ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life.
Courtesy of NOVA/WGBH
Penguin on the ice. Following a trail of fossils found in all the wrong places — beech trees in Antarctica, redwoods and hippo-like mammals in the Arctic — NOVA uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-thick ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life.

Airs Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV + Sunday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2

Join renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson on an epic adventure through time at the polar extremes of our planet.

Following a trail of strange fossils found in all the wrong places — beech trees in Antarctica, hippo-like mammals in the Arctic — Johnson uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-high ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life.

What caused such dramatic changes at the ends of the Earth? And what controls the dial on Earth’s thermostat?

Today, the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else in the world, and Antarctica has locked in its ice enough water to raise sea level by a terrifying 200 feet.

Paleontologist Kirk Johnson explores the dynamic history — and future — of ice at the poles.
Courtesy of NOVA/ WGBH
Paleontologist Kirk Johnson explores the dynamic history — and future — of ice at the poles.

The way that the poles respond to a warming climate is one of the greatest wildcards in predicting our climate future.

Johnson uses Earth’s history, written in stone, as a cipher to decode what is going on at our polar extremes today, and what the future may hold.

NOVA "Polar Extremes" is a two-hour special.

Related: How polar bear guards protect the largest Arctic expedition ever. by Katherine J. Wu

Related: Dispatches from Antarctica: Part 1. by Caitlin Saks

Paleontologist Kirk Johnson explores the dynamic history — and future — of ice at the poles.
Courtesy of NOVA/ WGBH
Paleontologist Kirk Johnson explores the dynamic history — and future — of ice at the poles.

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Join The Conversation:

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter. #NOVAnext

Follow Kirk Johnson @leafdoctor on Twitter.

Join renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson (pictured in kayak) on an epic adventure through time at the polar extremes of our planet.
Courtesy of NOVA/ WGBH
Join renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson (pictured in kayak) on an epic adventure through time at the polar extremes of our planet.