travelling horizontally for approximately 200 km (124 mi) over south-east France. The average duration for a lightning bolt is just 0.2 sec.
A HIGHEST TREE
Polylepis tomentella grows at altitudes of 4,0005,200 m (13,123-17,060 ft) above sea level. It is found all across the semi-arid ecosystem of the Altiplano, which runs through the Central Andes. [T’J
The tallest trees are redwoods (genera Sequoia and Sequoladendron) and eucalyptuses (genus Eucalyptus), both of which can top 113 m (370 ft).
In Sep 2016, the World Meteorological Organization announced that on 30 Aug 2012, a 7.74-sec cloud-to-cloud bolt had been tracked
A MOST LETHALSMOG
The term “smog” derives from the words “smoke” and “fog”. On 5-9 Dec 1952, London experienced thick smog, caused by cold weather coupled with an anticyclone that facilitated a build-up of pollutants. There were around 12,000 fatalities.
In Nov 2016, an international team of scientists published their analysis of the disaster, noting that sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide from residential and power-plant coal burning had formed sulphuric acid when mixed with fog.
This led to lung inflammation and, in many cases, death by suffocation. A performance of the opera La Travlata at the city’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre had to be abandoned when smog infiltrated the auditorium, making the audience cough and rendering the stage invisible to those at the back. On the Isle of Dogs in London’s East End, the smog became so thick that people could not see their own feet.
The speed of the .
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ister than the rate a
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The hottest place on Earth is the air around a lightning strike, which momentarily reaches 30,000“C (54,032°F), or some five times hotter than the surface of the Sun.
Parfcutin in Mexico is a volcanic cone that erupted from a corn field on 20 Feb 1943, and was volcanically active until 1952. Most of the activity occurred in the first year, during which the volcanic cone grew to a height of 335 m (1,100 ft). Parfcutin offered geologists a rare opportunity to witness the birth, evolution and death of a volcano.
On 13 Dec 2016, a team of scientists led by Barbara Sherwood Lollar (CAN) presented results at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union that showed the discovery of
2-billion-year-old water 3 km (1.8 mi) below the Earth’s surface at Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins, Ontario, Canada. Ancient water that becomes trapped at this depth in the crust can preserve evidence of the conditions at the time at which it became trapped. Dissolved elements including helium, neon, krypton, xenon and argon allowed analysis of the age of the water, which is around eight times saltier than seawater.
Most powerful tsunami from an asteroid impact
Sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid measuring at least 10 km (6.2 mi) across struck the Yucatan Peninsula
in what is now Mexico.
The impact released approximately 2 million times more energy than the most powerful man-made nuclear explosion and resulted in a crater around 180 km (111 mi) across. The resulting tsunami from this event has been estimated to have been around 1 km
(0.62 mi) high in places, and would have been much taller had the asteroid landed in the deep ocean rather than in the shallow waters of the peninsula.
Tallest single wave
The highest officially recorded sea wave -dependent on weather or
MUD VOLCANO ERUPTION
Since May 2006, a mud volcano has been erupting in East Java, Indonesia. Expelling a mixture of clay and water, the eruption and its mudflow has buried more than 6.5 km^ (2.5 sq mi) of the city of Sidoarjo in up to 40 m (131 ft) of mud, displacing nearly 40,000 people. At its peak, the volcano was discharging around 180,000 m^ (6,356,640 cu ft) of mud per day. That’s the equivalent of the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt every two weeks. The eruption is expected to last for 25-30 years.
climate – was calculated to have reached 112 ft (34 m) from trough to crest. It was measured from the USS Ramapo, proceeding from Manila in the Philippines to San Diego, California, USA, on the night of 6-7 Feb 1933, during a hurricane that reached 126 km/h (78 mph).
Remotest spot from land
At 48°52.6’S, 123°23.6’W, there is a point in the South Pacific Ocean 2,699 km (1,450 nautical mi) from land. It is known as Point Nemo, or the Pacific Pole of Inaccessibility. If you were at this spot, and the International Space Station were orbiting directly above, at an altitude of around 400 km (248 mi), you would be nearer to its crew than to anyone on Earth.
Of all the continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Australasia/ Oceania and Antarctica), Asia is the largest at 45,036,492 km^ (17,388,686 sq mi).
Africa ranks second with a land area of 30,343,578 km^ (11,715,721 sq mi).
Apart from Australia, which is usually regarded as a continental land mass,
Earth’s largest island is Greenland, with an area of about 2,175,600 km^ (840,000 sq mi).
The largest sand island in the world is Fraser Island, located off the south coast of Queensland, Australia.
It covers some 1,630 km2 (629 sq mi) and is home to a sand dune 120 km (75 mi) long (and more than 100 freshwater lakes). In 1992, the island was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site.
The world’s highest measured sand dunes are those in the Saharan sand sea of Isaouane-n-Tifernine in east central Algeria. They are 5 km (3 mi) long and reach a height of 465 m (1,525 ft).
The Lambert Glacier in Antarctica covers an area of 1 million km^ (386,100 sq mi) and delivers an estimated 33 billion tonnes (36.3 billion tons) of ice from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet to the Southern Ocean every year.
Extending for more than 400 km (250 mi), the Lambert Glacier is also the world’s longest glacier.
On 15 Dec 2016, a team of geographers from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, published the most complete global database of lakes. Known as HydroLAKES, the database contains measurements, including volume of water and shoreline length, for 1.42 million lakes larger than 10 ha (24.7 acres).
The McGill University team put the overall volume of water in these lakes at around 181,900 km^ (43,640 cu mi). The total length of shorelines for the 1.42 million lakes is an estimated 7,200,000 km (4,473,870 mi).
The shield volcano Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo contains an active lava lake in its crater around 250 m (820 ft) across. The volcano has erupted some 34 times since 1882.
Located in eastern Antarctica, the Gamburtsev Mountains extend some 1,200 km (745 mi) across the continent and are around 2,700 m (8,860 ft) tall. No one has ever seen the mountains first-hand as they are permanently buried beneath more than 600 m (1,970 ft) of ice. Discovered in 1958 by a Soviet team using seismic surveys, the range is believed to be c. 500 million years old.
T FIRST ESTIMATE OF THE MASS OF THE TECHNOSPHERE
An offshoot of Earth’s biosphere, the technosphere comprises every human structure and object that may one day become “technofossils”. Everything from roads and cities (New York City, below) to landfill sites (inset) and vehicles – and all the waste generated by them – counts towards the technosphere. On 28 Nov 2016, an international team led by geologists from the University of Leicester, UK, presented their estimate of the mass of Earth’s technosphere in the journal Anthropocene Review. They put the technosphere’s mass at 30 trillion tonnes (33 trillion tons) – or around