Rare Ice Disks
Although extremely rare, ice disks, also known as ice circles, do indeed appear naturally from time to time when conditions are perfect. Above are a few examples of people who have been lucky enough to stumble onto one while holding a camera.
Ice discs form on the outer bends in a river where the accelerating water creates a force called ‘rotational shear’, which breaks off a chunk of ice and twists it around. As the disc rotates, it grinds against surrounding ice — smoothing into a circle. A relatively uncommon phenomenon, one of the earliest recordings is of a slowly revolving disc was spotted on the Mianus River and reported in a 1895 edition of Scientific American.
Amazing Volcanic Eruption With Northern Lights, Iceland
After hearing that the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano was erupting, photographer James Appleton made a journey to Iceland. Appleton managed to take these stunning photos of the volcano’s eruption while a light display of the aurora borealis (northern lights) filled the sky. His words express the experience best:
In 2010 I became aware of the volcanic activity on the Fimmvörðuháls mountain pass, on the side of Eyjafjallajökull. Having crossed the pass several times on previous trips to Iceland, I knew the area and that I would know my way around. Dealing with the severe winter conditions and obviously volatile situation would be something else. I am a strong believer that sometimes in life it is the risks we take that bring the greatest rewards, so with that in mind I booked flights, assembled my gear and headed out to Iceland. Arriving at night, I hitchhiked to the south coast and the start of the path up to the pass. Five days later I would return, physically and mentally exhausted, but with some of the greatest photographs I had ever taken and a pretty wide smile on my face.
The Twisted Trees of Slope Point, New Zealand
Slope Point is at the southernmost point of the South Island of New Zealand. The air streams loop the ocean, unobstructed for 2000 miles, until they reach Slope Point causing incredibly strong winds. In fact, the winds are so strong and persistent here that they perpetually warp and twist the trees into these crooked, wind-swept shapes.
Slope Point is generally uninhabited, except for the herds of sheep that graze the land. There are no roads leading here, however backpackers regularly make the short 20-minute walk to see the fascinating tree formations that only Mother Nature could create. However there is no public access during the lambing season from September to November.
Frozen Pier at Lake Michigan
Located on Lake Michigan is the century old St. Joseph North Pier. When the wind moves across the pier during Michigan’s freezing winter months, large waves crashing upon the pier and lighthouses literally freeze the lake water in place, creating beautifully sculptured ice formations.
Over the years, environmental and landscape photographer Tom Gill has journeyed to the pier to capture the amazing ice formations. His photographs have been published worldwide and can be seen in his Flickr album titled Frozen World.
170 Years of Tropical Storm Tracks Mapped
By compiling all of incidence of tropical cyclones over a 170 year period for the entire planet, the National Climatic Data Center has come up with several graphic images that show which areas of the world are constantly getting hit the hardest with storms.
They assembled data for 11,967 tropical cyclones into a single database, called IBTrACS, with information from 1842 to 2012. By showing how many times any storm track overlapped another one, the density of storms affecting a given area becomes clear.
Cyclone tracks overlapped the most in the western Pacific and Bay of Bengal (India), where typhoon season never ends since waters are always warm enough to sustain cyclone formation. The amount of storm tracks overlapping is much lower in the Western Hemisphere (picture 2) than in the Eastern Hemisphere (picture 3).
Look Up! The Perseid Meteor Shower is Here
Skywatchers around the world are gearing up for the famous August Perseid meteor shower, which peaks August 11 through 13 and promises to be the best celestial fireworks show of the year.
The Perseids grace our skies when Earth plows into a stream of fragments—ranging in size from sand grains to boulders—left behind by a comet. These particles slam into the atmosphere at speeds of 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers) per hour, causing the meteors to burn up in the upper atmosphere, which produces a momentary streak across the overhead skies known as a shooting star.
"As the Earth passes through the dust trail of comets, it encounters debris—some of which can be the size of grapefruit or larger—which [then] can cause fireballs," said Raminder Singh Samra, resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. "The chances of seeing fireballs always increase when there is a strong meteor shower like this one," he added.
Expectations this year are particularly high for the Perseids because the waxing crescent moon will set early, allowing even the fainter meteors to be seen, explained Samra.
The Electrical Light Show in the Sky
Lightning strikes are electrical discharges on a massive scale between the atmosphere and an earth-bound object. They mostly originate in thunderclouds and terminate on the ground, called Cloud to Ground (CG) lightning. However, they may also be initiated from a very tall grounded object and reach into the clouds.
Although "a lightning strike" is commonly used to describe all lightning, it is rather erroneous and a misnomer, as only about 25% of all lightning events worldwide are CG. The large bulk of lightning events are Intracloud (IC) or Cloud to Cloud (CC), where discharge only occurs high in the atmosphere.
The scientific name for the complete process of a single lightning event is a “flash”, and a flash is a very complex, multiple step interaction, which is not entirely understood. Most CG flashes only “strike” one physical location, referred to as a termination. The primary conducting channel, the bright coursing light you may see and call a “strike”, is only about one inch in diameter, although to our eyes it looks much larger. They are miles long, and can be upwards of tens miles long. The entire flash lasts only fractions of a second, and most of it is not visible to the human eye.