Top 5 Most Obscure Natural Phenomena
July 6, 2012 Leave a Comment
Mother nature can produce some bizarre events. Today we have complied a top 5 list of the most obscure natural phenomena right here on planet Earth.
1. Ice Circles:
Until a few years ago, the cause of ice circles eluded scientists. The perfectly round formations that appear etched into frozen rivers, ponds, and lakes first cropped up in Russia and were later observed in Scandinavia, Canada, and parts of the United States.
In 2009, astronauts on the International Space Station reported seeing giant ice rings — about 2.7 miles in diameter — in Lake Baikal in Siberia. Ecologists believed the rotating discs could be attributed to warm water underneath the ice that melts the surface into a circle. Methane emissions can create a rising mass of warm water that begins swirling in a circular pattern because of the Coriolis force, or the phenomenon caused by the Earth’s rotation that also helps create cyclones.
A maelstrom, or massive whirlpool, is a giant, rotating body of water that forms when conflicting tidal flows meet. Although a malestrom’s swirling vortex can be powerful enough to pull down a swimmer, stories of tidal whirlpools sinking container ships and fishing trawlers are completely false. A malestrom has never been reported strong enough for this to occur.
The strongest malestrom in the world is the Saltstraumen located outside Bodø, Norway near the Arctic Circle.
3. Aurora Borealis:
The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, occurs when highly-charged particles from the magnetosphere collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The color of the aurora — green, red, blue, or purple — is determined by the type of atom and altitude at which it is struck.
Auroras are generally seen over the magnetic poles, though the rare light show was seen over the contiguous United States in October this year.
4. Bioluminescent Red Tide:
The unusual phenomena that causes ocean waters in Southern California to glow neon blue at night is created by single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates. The organism forms algae blooms, or red tides, that emit electric blue light when disrupted. All it takes is the breaking of wave or a surfer paddling for the chemical reaction to happen.
Although many forms of red tide are toxic, this particular form is harmless to humans.
5. Fire Devils:
These menacing spirals of flame, also known as fire tornadoes, happen when intense heat brought on by drought combines with rotating air. Though typically only lasting a few minutes, the whirls of fire can grow to be more than 150 ft tall, spewing embers and debris into the air and aiding the spread of wildfires.