Science Night 3/21

Nature “Survivors of the Firestorm” at 7 pm
The bush fires that tore through the Australian state of Victoria in February 2009 incinerated over a million acres of land, including key mountain ash forest ecosystems. Fires are a natural force of nature which spur regeneration, but the immediate aftermath of this giant firestorm was devastation. Kangaroos and koalas, wombats and wallabies, endangered possums and gliders, lizards, echidnas, birds of all kinds, and even fish that lived among these eucalypts were overcome by the flames. Millions died. But burned and traumatized survivors tenderly nursed back to health at wildlife hospitals showed a remarkable ability to bounce back, and the environment an extraordinary capacity for healing.

Nova “Extreme Ice” at 8 pm
In collaboration with National Geographic, Nova follows the exploits of acclaimed photojournalist James Balog and a scientific team as they deploy time-lapse cameras in risky, remote locations in the Arctic, Alaska, and the Alps. Grappling with blizzards, fickle technology, and climbs up craggy precipices, the team must anchor cameras capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures and winds up to 170 mph. The goal of Balog’s team’s perilous expedition: to create a unique photo archive of melting glaciers that could provide a key to understanding their runaway behavior and their potential to drive rising sea levels. Some models now project a one-meter sea level rise over the next century, which could displace millions of people everywhere from Florida to Bangladesh and require trillions of dollars in new coastal infrastructure investments. But, alarmingly, these models don’t reflect recent findings that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an ever-faster rate. What explains this alarming acceleration, and just how do you figure out what’s happening inside a gigantic wall of ice? In this high-action scientific adventure, Nova investigates the mystery of the mighty ice sheets that will affect the fate of coastlines around the world.