Episode 1 The Day The Sun Went Out – Looks at geological, meteorological, and other forces that may have significantly impacted the Earth’s weather during the Dark Ages. Some scientists believe that either a volcano erupted or a meteor hit the earth, causing an unusually cold period to develop. Others are more attracted to Mike Baillie’s theories involving tree rings. Baillie, a Queens University archaeologist and paleoecologist in Belfast, Ireland, has discovered that tree rings in various parts of the world clearly indicate a pattern of unusually cold weather affected the trees’ growth during the Dark Ages. Historical records kept by the Romans state that during 535 and 536 A.D., the sun could only be seen for about four hours a day. If that information is correct, the Earth’s plants and inhabitants must have struggled to cope with far less warmth from the sun.
Episode 2 How The World Changed – 535 A.D. has come and gone the world has been hit by a catastrophe. Now comes bizarre weather, the sun is darkened, skies are turbulent, rain is red and snow falls yellow. There is frost and famine. Seasons are blurred. In some places great drought destroys the land. In others floods bring chaos. The world will never be the same. The theory belongs to David Keys. With dogged detective work he has pieced together the story of an ancient catastrophe. By bringing together evidence from contemporary eye witness accounts and tree rings, he has developed a picture of a lethal climate change that began in the year 535 A.D. and affected most of the world for the next ten to twenty years. He found three possible causes for the huge amounts of dust, ash and water vapour that must have been hurled into the atmosphere to block out the sun a comet, an asteroid or a volcano. The presence of sulphuric acid in arctic and Antarctic ice cores from that period has pointed the finger at a massive volcanic eruption. But where did it occur? From Chinese and Javanese records, Keys has deduced that the culprit could have been the world’s most notorious volcano, Krakatoa.