22 Ridiculously Cool Rare Natural Phenomena That Happen on Earth
I find all these so fascinating…
The spooky light is created by a chemical reaction called “bioluminescence”, which happens when tiny organisms in the water are disturbed. The photographer put his camera on a very slow shutter speed and threw sand and stones into the water to cause the reaction and capture as much of the blue haze as possible.
A supercell is basically a stronger, more tornado-enabled version of a regular storm cell. This is because—much like tornadoes—supercells have the tendency to spin around a lot, but also—and more importantly—because supercells can actually create tornadoes.
3. Volcanic Lightning
This cool picture depicts a lightning storm that takes place in the middle of a volcanic eruption. Scientists aren’t 100% sure why this happens, but the primary theory goes that when a volcano erupts, it projects positively-charged debris into the atmosphere. These charges then react with negative charges already present, which results in 1) a bolt of lightning, and 2) a really cool picture.
4. Snow Donuts
These rare shapes are formed—under perfect temperature conditions only—when a mass of snow either falls or is blown by the wind. If it manages to catch on to some other snow, and gravity or the wind is in its favor, then the new snowball will roll itself in the exact same way we all used to. In this case, though, the middles tend to collapse to create a donut shape, which can end up as tall as 26 inches (66 cm).
5. Fire Rainbows
These colorful offshoots are a large halo of refracted light, and despite their nickname, they have nothing to do with either fire or rainbows. They only occur when the sun is at least 58 degrees above the horizon, when there are cirrus clouds in the sky that are filled with plate-shaped ice crystals. The refraction of light is always parallel to the horizon, and because the arcs are so big, only sections of them are ever commonly seen—which is why it can look like certain patches of cloud are on fire
6. Lenticular Clouds
They are stationary lens-shaped and sometimes multi-layered clouds that form at high altitudes. They are formed when moist air is forced to flow upward around mountain tops. Due to their shape, they have been offered as an explanation for some UFO sightings.
Auroras or polar lights are mesmerizing natural light display in the skies of high latitude regions. They are caused when energetic electrically charged particles from solar wind accelerate along the magnetic field lines into the upper atmosphere, where they collide with gas atoms, causing the atoms to give off light. The auroral zone is typically 10° to 20° from the magnetic poles.
8. Fire Whirls
The fire whirls, fire devil or fire tornado, is a rare natural phenomenon that occurs when a fire, combined by certain air temperature and currents, forms a whirl that rises into the air like a tornado. They can be actual whirlwinds that disengage from the flames, or else can become a vortex of flame. The fire whirl usually occurs during bush fires.
9. Finnish Lapland
The picture was taken last winter in Finnish Lapland where weather can include sub-freezing temperatures and driving snow. Surreal landscapes sometimes result, where common trees become cloaked in white and so appear, to some, as watchful aliens or bizarre statues.
10. Sun Dogs
They are massive halos in the sky as a result of light refraction—though in this case, they appear to actually encircle the sun. Sun dogs can be recognized by the two distinctive bright spots on either side of the halo—if these blips are bright enough, it can even look like there are three suns in the sky, all side by side. And the good news is that this happens all the time, all over the world, so you’ll be able to start seeing them if you look closely enough (especially when the sun is low in the sky).
A fallstreak hole, also known as a punch hole cloud, is a large circular or elliptical gap, that can appear in cirrocumulous or altocumulous clouds. Such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of icenucleation particles. When ice crystals do form it will set off a domino effect, due to the Bergeon process, causing the water droplets around the crystals to evaporate: this leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud
12. Frost Flowers
They’re buildups of ice particles around the base of certain plants and types of wood. When the temperature outside the plant is below freezing and the temperature within them is not, then water is pulled to the surface in a process similar to transpiration. This leads to a fragile chain of ice being pushed outward, which ends up forming sprawling, delicate formations.
13. Columnar Basalt
The unique formations are a result of lava flows cracking as they cool, in a perpendicular direction to the original flow. Columnar basalt clusters can be found all over the world—and then, naturally, climbed.
These spiky fields of ice are called penitentes, and each individual shard can be up to a whopping 4 m high. These intimidating snow structures are formed in high-altitude areas with low humidity, such as the glaciers of the Andes mountains. If the conditions are right, the sun’s rays are so hot that they can actually sublimate fields of snow—meaning that the frozen water vaporizes without ever becoming a liquid. This leads to slight pockets in the ice, which—thanks to their shape—actually end up attracting even more heat.
15. Light Poles
This phenomenon is known as ‘light poles’ and it can be seen at nights over the large cities with different colored lights. They can only be seen during very cold weather (the temperature of -20 Celsius degrees or lower is required). Also the wind must not blow fast and there has to be a plenty of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere.
16. Morning Glory Clouds
Morning Glory clouds are very rare types of clouds. They can stretch 1,000 kilometers long and occur at altitudes of up to 2 km. Although similar clouds are seen in many places worldwide, the ones over Burketown, Queensland in Australia occur predictably every spring. These tubes and the surrounding air can cause dangerous turbulence for airplanes when clear.
They’re tornadoes that form over water. Because of this, they don’t pose a major threat unless you happen to be in a boat—but if you are, then watch out, because these things can achieve speeds of up to 305 km per hour. In fact, it’s been speculated that many mysterious shipwrecks—such as those within the Bermuda Triangle—are simply a result of bad luck with waterspouts.
18. Mammatus Clouds
Mammatus clouds are cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud. They are formed in sinking air contrary to any other form of clouds that are formed in rising air. There are various hypotheses offered behind the mechanism of its formation.
19. The Hessdalen Light
Hessdalen Light is an unexplained light phenomenon that occurs in Hessdalen valley of Norway. They were observed over 15 to 20 times per week from 1982 until 1984. Since then, the activity has decreased and now the lights are observed about 10 to 20 times per year.
When the surface of the sea freezes—such as around the north and south poles—it does so in a way that forces pockets of especially cold and salty seawater to gather on the underside of the ice. This mixture of brine is denser than the seawater below it, and as a result it tends to slowly sink to the bottom. Now, because it’s so cold, the fresher water below the brine actually freezes around it as it falls, which results in a giant icicle under the surface.
21. Earthquake Lights
Earthquake lights are unusual luminous atmospheric phenomenon. They are usually reportedly in areas of high seismic activity or volcanic eruptions. They were believed to be myths until they were photographed in 1965 during the Matsushiro earthquake of Japan. It was then that seismologists worldwide accepted of their existence. Earthquake lights are caused by an unknown mechanism. They are either white, blue or multi-spectrum.
22. Ball Lightning
Ball lightning is an unexplained atmospheric electrical phenomenon. The term refers to reports of luminous, usually spherical objects which vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter. It is usually associated with thunderstorms, but lasts considerably longer than the split-second flash of a lightning bolt. Many of the early reports say that the ball eventually explodes, sometimes with fatal consequences, leaving behind the odor of sulfur.