The 7 Natural Wonders of the World, Nos. 4-7
Check out interesting facts about four naturally wonderful places on Earth.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 12:01
4) Mount Everest
• Highest mountain in the world, represents the highest spot on Earth's surface.
• Summit reaches a peak of 29,029 feet.
• Located in the Himalaya mountains on the border between Nepal and Tibet, China.
• Also known as Chomolungma.
• Shifting tectonic plates continue to push Everest upward, along with the whole Himalaya mountain range, at 1.6 to 3.9 inches per year.
• The best way to experience Mount Everest is by making the hike to the base of the mountain. For more experienced individuals, a climb to the upper base camp. But this experience is costly; the Nepal government now requires potential climbers to purchase a $25,000USD climbing permit.
• The best season to explore it is fall, during the months of October and November which are the start of the dry season (and of course when it's not snowing).
• Prior experience carrying a heavy pack for multiple days serves as excellent preparation for this climb. Climbers must be able to carry an average of 30 lbs or more and be physically and mentally prepared to deal with strenuous situations at high altitudes. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition for both personal enjoyment and to be important team members.
• Also known as polar auroras.
• The northern lights (aurora borealis) are the most notable, but a southern aurora (aurora australis) does occur in the southern hemisphere.
• No specific or consistent measurements (design, size, pattern, color).
• Appear as glowing sheets or dancing waves.
• The chances of experiencing the northern lights will increase as one approaches the magnetic pole. The magnetic pole can be found in the Arctic islands of Canada.
• Unfortunately, it cannot predict when the lights will appear, but the best chances of witnessing the northern lights occur between the months of March to April and September to October (equinoxes).
• Named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, boreas.
• Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from further away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction.
Why so many colors?
• Auroras are the result of the emissions of photons in the Earth's upper atmosphere (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state. They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down, and accelerated along, the Earth's magnetic field lines.
• Oxygen emissions are green or brownish-red, depending on the amount of energy absorbed.
• Nitrogen emissions are blue or red; blue if the atom regains an electron after it has been ionized, red if returning to ground state from an excited state.
6) Parícutin Volcano
• It is a cinder cone volcano.
• Located in Mexican state of Michoacán.
• Official height varies from 9,101 to 10,397 feet.
• Last erupted in 1952.
• Known as youngest volcano in America.
• Established as natural wonder because mankind witnessed its birth. Volcano was also fast growing, reaching 3/4 of its size within the first year.
• Volcanism is a common part of the Mexican landscape. Parícutin is the youngest of more than 1,400 volcanic vents that exist in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and North America. The volcano is unique in the fact that its formation was witnessed from its very beginning.
• Three people died as a result of lightning strikes caused by eruptions, but no deaths were attributed to the lava or asphyxiation.
7) Victoria Falls
• It is also called Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning "mist that thunders."
• It is the largest waterfall based on width and height.
• It is one mile wide and 360 feet high.
• Two national parks (Zambia) and (Zimbabwe) protect the falls.
• Victoria Falls is located in southern Africa on the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Zambezi River serves as the falls' water source.
• There are two seasons to the Victoria Falls area. The rainy season runs from late November to early April and the remaining months account for the dry season. One would imagine that the rainy season with more water would make the falls more spectacular, but the additional water makes it impossible to see the base of the falls.
• The rainbow can be seen during any part of the day, but it seems to be brightest during the early part of the day. At full moon, a "moonbow" can be seen in the spray instead of the usual daylight rainbow.
• The spray from the falls rises over 1,300 feet, sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from 30 miles away.
• Victoria Falls is roughly three times the height of Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width, Victoria Falls competes only with South America's Iguazu Falls.
Top photo: Gravityx9/Flickr
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