Interesting Planet

Hyperion, the world’s tallest living tree.Hyperion is the name of a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in California that was measured at 115.92 m (380.3 ft), which ranks it as the world’s tallest known living tree.

Comet Leonard in the frigid Canadian night. Spectacular photo!

Jølster, Norway!

A gentle reminder.

Humpback whale salute In Monterey Bay, California.

Rainbow 🌈 as seen from a plane 

Solar Eclipse from Space…

A highland storm over Loch Etive, Scotland

Snowy owl 🤍🦉

Dog-sledding under the Northern lights in Norway.

Frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia

The Wave is a sandstone rock formation located in Arizona, United States, near its northern border with Utah. The formation is situated on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of the Colorado Plateau.

Granada, Spain

Magical sunset.

A lighthouse in Michigan, before and after major ice storm.

Rainy Day in Paris, France 🇫🇷🌧

Full lunar eclipse creates rare super blood Moon

Image shows super blood moon
Image caption,The Moon turned a deep shade of copper-like red as it passed through the Earth’s shadow

Stargazers have been treated overnight to a stunning and unusual sight – a super blood Moon.

Shortly after 03:30 GMT on Monday, Earth’s orbit meant that for several minutes our planet was positioned directly between the Sun and the Moon.

In that time the Moon fell completely into Earth’s shadow – temporarily turning it a dusky shade of dark red.

Its hue was created by sunlight being projected through Earth’s atmosphere onto the Moon’s shadowed surface.

The lunar eclipse coincided with a separate event – a super Moon. This is when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit and so appears larger than usual.

Image shows blood moon
Image caption,The super blood Moon sets over hilltops in the Republic of North Macedonia

Those watching out for the resulting super blood Moon got the best view from 03:29 GMT, the moment the full lunar eclipse started and the event became visible in the Western hemisphere.

For almost one and a half hours afterwards, the only sunlight reaching the Moon had passed through the Earth’s atmosphere turning it red.

Image shows super moon above Temple of Poseidon
Image caption,In Greece, spectators gathered at the Temple of Poseidon near Athens to watch the Moon before the full eclipse

In Europe, the phenomenon was only visible for some of that time because of the Moon beginning to set. But in the Americas areas under clear skies were treated to the full spectacle.

“If you were an astronaut standing on the Moon, looking back towards Earth, you’d see a red ring running around the outside of our planet,” he told the BBC.

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THE ODD BEAUTY OF EELS

By Marie-Amélie Carpio

Capturing underwater beauty is routine for David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, who have explored some of the most spectacular reefs on the planet. Yet a colony of garden eels they encountered off the Philippines coast brought back memories. “I began my career at National Geographic in 1971 with a story on garden eels in the Red Sea,” said Doubilet, a Nat Geo Explorer. Taking these images, he said, “was like coming home.”

Garden eels are both social and shy. They live in individual burrows yet form colonies and rise together out of their burrows to feed on plankton carried by the current. (Pictured above, a two-spot wrasse and a cornerfish, unthreatening to the eels, swim through a colony.)

“It’s mesmerizing to watch hundreds of eels waving and undulating in an ancient exotic dance,” says Doubilet. Yet “that ends abruptly when the eels detect the slightest movement of an unwelcome intruder. The vast colony vanishes back into the sand as if it never existed.”

To capture the scene above, the photographers had to—quite literally—disappear.

“Jennifer settled on the Trojan Horse strategy,” Doubilet explains. Hayes placed a rock the same size and color of their camera housing near the edge of the colony and left it for a day. The eels apparently accepted the rock—and rose from their burrows. The next morning, she put the camera housing there, left—and then filmed.

Dinner interrupted: A hawksbill turtle stops eating sponges to confront its reflection in the lens. The turtle finds the sponges tucked under coral.

The vibrant coral: A pink soft coral and a bone-colored chalice coral are surrounded by anthias off Pescador Island, near Cebu. The photographers say the healthiest reefs in the Philippines are as vibrant with life as any they have seen.

Trying to save the young: A titan triggerfish, exhausted after battling to defend the eggs in its nest, lies down in a last attempt to save its young from moon wrasses. The robust corals on this reef attract a stunning array of sea life.

National Geographic

Giant sinkhole with a forest inside found in China

A team of Chinese scientists has discovered a giant new sinkhole with a forest at its bottom. 

The sinkhole is 630 feet (192 meters) deep, according to the Xinhua news agency, deep enough to just swallow St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. A team of speleologists and spelunkers rappelled into the sinkhole on Friday (May 6), discovering that there are three cave entrances in the chasm, as well as ancient trees 131 feet (40 m) tall, stretching their branches toward the sunlight that filters through the sinkhole entrance.

“This is cool news,” said George Veni, the executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) in the U.S., and an international expert on caves. Veni was not involved in the exploration of the cave, but the organization that was, the Institute of Karst Geology of the China Geological Survey, is NCKRI’s sister institute.

A site for sinkholes

This image shows a typical karst sinkhole called a tiankeng in Chongqing, China. (Image credit: Eastimages/Getty Images)
The discovery is no surprise, Veni told Live Science, because southern China is home to karst topography, a landscape prone to dramatic sinkholes and otherworldly caves. Karst landscapes are formed primarily by the dissolution of bedrock, Veni said. Rainwater, which is slightly acidic, picks up carbon dioxide as it runs through the soil, becoming more acidic. It then trickles, rushes and flows through cracks in the bedrock, slowly widening them into tunnels and voids. Over time, if a cave chamber gets large enough, the ceiling can gradually collapse, opening up huge sinkholes.

“Because of local differences in geology, climate and other factors, the way karst appears at the surface can be dramatically different,” he said. “So in China you have this incredibly visually spectacular karst with enormous sinkholes and giant cave entrances and so forth. In other parts of the world you walk out on the karst and you really don’t notice anything. Sinkholes might be quite subdued, only a meter or two in diameter. Cave entrances might be very small, so you have to squeeze your way into them.” 

In fact, 25% of the United States is karst or pseudokarst, which features caves carved by factors other than dissolution, such as volcanics or wind, Veni said. About 20% of the world’s landmass is made of one of these two cave-rich landscapes. 

The new discovery took place in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, near Ping’e village in the county of Leye, according to Xinhua. Guangxi is known for its fabulous karst formations, which range from sinkholes to rock pillars to natural bridges and have earned the region UNESCO world heritage site designation.

Why sinkholes matter

The sinkhole’s interior is 1,004 feet (306 m) long and 492 feet (150 m) wide, Zhang Yuanhai, a senior engineer with the Institute of Karst Geology, told Xinhua. The Mandarin word for such enormous sinkholes is “tiankeng,” or “heavenly pit,” and the bottom of the sinkhole did indeed seem like another world. Chen Lixin, who led the cave expedition team, told Xinhua that the dense undergrowth on the sinkhole floor was as high as a person’s shoulders. Karst caves and sinkholes can provide an oasis for life, Veni said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are species found in these caves that have never been reported or described by science until now,” Lixin said. 

In one West Texas cave, Veni said, tropical ferns grow abundantly; the spores of the ferns were apparently carried to the sheltered spot by bats that migrate to South and Central America.

Not only do sinkholes and caves offer refuge for life, they are also a conduit to aquifers, or deep stores of underground water. Karst aquifers provide the sole or primary water source for 700 million people worldwide, Veni said. But they’re easily accessed and drained — or polluted.

“Karst aquifers are the only types of aquifers that you can pollute with solid waste,” Veni said. “I’ve pulled car batteries and car bodies and barrels of God-knows-what and bottles of God-knows-what out of the active cave stream.” 

The new discovery brings the number of sinkholes in Leye County to 30, according to Xinhua. The same researchers have previously discovered dozens of sinkholes in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province and a cluster of interconnected sinkholes in Guangxi, China Daily reported.

The Super Volcano that could change everything

The supervolcano that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US is far larger than was previously thought, scientists report.

A study shows that the magma chamber is about 2.5 times bigger than earlier estimates suggested.

A team found the cavern stretches for more than 90km (55 miles) and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock.

The findings are being presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Prof Bob Smith, from the University of Utah, said: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would thought it would be bigger… but this finding is astounding.”

If the Yellowstone supervolcano were to blow today, the consequences would be catastrophic.

The last major eruption, which occurred 640,000 years ago, sent ash across the whole of North America, affecting the planet’s climate.

Now researchers believe they have a better idea of what lies beneath the ground.

The team used a network of seismometers that were situated around the park to map the magma chamber.

Dr Jamie Farrell, from the University of Utah, explained: “We record earthquakes in and around Yellowstone, and we measure the seismic waves as they travel through the ground.

“The waves travel slower through hot and partially molten material… with this, we can measure what’s beneath.”

volcano

The team found that the magma chamber was colossal. Reaching depths of between 2km and 15km (1 to 9 miles), the cavern was about 90km (55 miles) long and 30km (20 miles) wide.It pushed further into the north east of the park than other studies had previously shown, holding a mixture of solid and molten rock.

“To our knowledge there has been nothing mapped of that size before,” added Dr Farrell.

The researchers are using the findings to better assess the threat that the volatile giant poses.

“Yes, it is a much larger system… but I don’t think it makes the Yellowstone hazard greater,” explained Prof Bob Smith.

“But what it does tell us is more about the area to the north east of the caldera.”

He added that researchers were unsure when the supervolcano would blow again.

Some believe a massive eruption is overdue, estimating that Yellowstone’s volcano goes off every 700,000 years or so.

YellowstoneFalloutAshBed

Although fascinating, the new findings do not imply increased geologic hazards at Yellowstone, and certainly do not increase the chances of a ‘supereruption’ in the near future. Contrary to some media reports, Yellowstone is not ‘overdue’ for a supereruption.

Media reports were more hyperbolic in their coverage.

A study published in GSA Today, the monthly news and science magazine of the Geological Society of America, identified three fault zones where future eruptions are most likely to be centered. Two of those areas are associated with lava flows aged 174,000–70,000 years, and the third is a focus of present-day seismicity.

In 2017, NASA conducted a study to determine the feasibility of preventing the volcano from erupting. The results suggested that cooling the magma chamber by 35 percent would be enough to forestall such an incident. NASA proposed introducing water at high pressure 10 kilometers underground. The circulating water would release heat at the surface, possibly in a way that could be used as a geothermal power source. If enacted, the plan would cost about $3.46 billion. On the other hand, according to Brian Wilson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, such a project might trigger rather than prevent an eruption.

3200 Years in One Photograph at Sequoia National Park

Thankfully, no loggers took it down, nor forest fires nor earthquakes!
Just a quiet life in a California forest for all these years … 3,200!


Not every tree has a nickname, but ‘The President’ has earned it.
This giant sequoia stands at 247 feet tall & is estimated to be over 3,200 years old.


Imagine, this tree was already 700 years old during the height of ancient Greece’s civilization and
1200 years old when Jesus lived while Rome was well into its rule of most of the western world
and points beyond.
The trunk of The President measures 27 feet across, with 2 billion needles from base to top.

Because of its unbelievable size, this tree has never been photographed in its entirety, until now.
National Geographic photographers have worked along with scientists to try and create the first
photo that shows The President in all its glory.

They had to climb the tree with pulleys and levers and took thousands of photos. Of those, they
selected 126 and stitched them together to get this incredible portrait of The President.

The man near the trunk of the tree is a good indicator of the tree’s size – Incredible, isn’t it?
Did you notice the man near the top of the tree?

Now This is a Beach

namib.jpg

The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means “vast place”. According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, extending southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa.

namib4

The desert geology consists of sand seas near the coast, while gravel plains and scattered mountain outcrops occur further inland. The sand dunes, some of which are 300 metres (980 ft) high and span 32 kilometres (20 mi) long, are the second largest in the world after the Badain Jaran Desert dunes in China.

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Winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean are pressed down by hot air from the east; their humidity thus forms clouds and fog. Morning fogs coming from the ocean and pushing inwards into the desert are a regular phenomenon along the coast, and much of the life cycle of animals and plants in the Namib relies on these fogs as the main source of water.

Fog rolling in

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How climate change is leading to bigger hailstones

Rising global temperatures might be causing hailstorms to become more violent, with larger chunks of ice and more intense downpours. But just how big can a hailstone get?

It was the height of summer in the UK and the country found itself in the grip of a heatwave. In Leicestershire, in the midlands of England, children on their school holidays played in paddling pools to stay cool. Then the sky darkened.

In the early evening of 21 July 2021, hailstones the size of golf balls pelted suddenly from the sky, smashing windows and battering cars. Gardens that were a few moments earlier filled with people soaking up the evening sun, were left badly damaged by the downpour of ice.

While the hailstorm – caused by strong updrafts of cloud high in the atmosphere – was unusual in its severity, it was mild compared to a hailstorm that struck Calgary in Canada in June 2020. Hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to at least 70,000 homes and vehicles, destroyed crops and left the area facing a C$1.2bn (US$940m/£720m) repair bill. The 20-minute hailstorm was one of the country’s most costly weather events.

And climate change is altering the pattern of hailstorms. In Texas, Colorado and Alabama the records for largest hailstone have been broken in the last three years, reaching sizes of up to 16cm (6.2 inches) in diameter. In 2020, Tripoli, the capital of Libya, was struck by hailstones nearly 18cm (7.1in) across.

While giant hailstones – classed as those with a diameter greater than 10cm (3.9in) – are extremely rare, they are an indicator and hail damage in the US now averages more than $10bn (£7.6bn) a year.

But why might global warming be causing an increase in the amount of ice falling from the sky? And are their limits to just how big a hailstone can grow?

Some large hailstones form as smaller ones collide and fuse together as they are buffeted around in a storm (Credit: Nature Picture Library/Alamy)

Some large hailstones form as smaller ones collide and fuse together as they are buffeted around in a storm (Credit: Nature Picture Library/Alamy)

Hail forms as droplets of water are carried upward into a thunderstorm. Updraughts carry them into parts of the atmosphere where the air is cold enough to freeze the droplets. Moisture from the air accumulates on the outside of the drops of ice as it moves through the air, causing the hailstone to grow in onion-like layers.

How fast a hailstone grows depends on the amount of moisture in the air. It will continue to grow until the updraught is no longer strong enough to keep it aloft. A 103km/h (64mph) updraft supports hail the size of a golf ball, while one 27% faster can create hailstones the size of baseballs, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (although as we will see in a moment, the size of a hailstone doesn’t always directly relate to its weight). More humid air and more powerful updraughts will bring bigger hailstones. Often larger hailstones will fall closer to the updraught while smaller hailstones will fall further away, often blown there by cross winds.

Destructive storms that produce hailstones more than 25mm (1in) in diameter require a specific set of conditions, says Julian Brimelow, a physical sciences specialist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, a department of the Canadian government, who has studied how climate change affects hail formation. They require enough moisture, powerful updraughts, and a “trigger factor”, typically a weather front. This is why serious hailstorms are usually confined to particular regions such as the Great Plains in the US and Australia’s Gold Coast. Typically such regions have cool, dry air in the upper atmosphere above warm, humid surface air. This unstable situation leads to strong updraughts and the formation of thunderstorms.

Such locations are particularly prone to a type of thunderstorm known as supercells, which can produce very large hail due to the powerful rotating updraughts they create.

But as climate change alters the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, so too is the amount of moisture in the air. Warmer air can hold more water vapour while higher temperatures also mean more water is evaporated from the Earth’s surface. This is predicted to lead to heavier rainfall and more extreme storms in parts of the world.

A hailstone measuring 4.83in (12cm) at its widest point was collected after a storm in Bethune, Colorado, US, in 2019 (Credit: National Weather Service, Goodland Forecast Office)

A hailstone measuring 4.83in (12cm) at its widest point was collected after a storm in Bethune, Colorado, US, in 2019 (Credit: National Weather Service, Goodland Forecast Office)

Hailstones as big as eggs – like these that fell in Louisville, Colorado, in 2018 – are not uncommon in severe storms (Credit: Helen H Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

Hailstones as big as eggs – like these that fell in Louisville, Colorado, in 2018 – are not uncommon in severe storms (Credit: Helen H Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

Damage caused by large hail downpours can cause damage to vehicles and buildings costing billions (Credit: Helen H Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

Damage caused by large hail downpours can cause damage to vehicles and buildings costing billions (Credit: Helen H Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

BBC