If you enjoy traveling, you are probably familiar with the Seven Wonders of the World. Although, nature has presented us with great images that can be seen in several places — the most important is to be in the right place at the right time. See below 15 stunning natural phenomena that occur on our planet.
What happens when a lightning storm meets an active volcano? Something incredible! The storm and the eruption actually interact with each other to produce something completely unique. The lightning becomes surrounded by what seems to be a volcanic rain. Scientists have not found a definitive explanation for this fascinating phenomenon, but they believe it might be the result of positively charged particles from the eruption entering the atmosphere and mixing with the negative charges of the storm. This is a rare view and, unfortunately, it is not possible to plan to see it.
Who could say that there is a donut shape in nature? When a cluster of snow falls and is blown by the wind, sometimes it can find another snow and this will create a snowball that gets bigger and bigger as it rolls down the mountain. When the snowball reaches a certain speed it creates a centrifugal force, which causes its middle to open into this incredible donut shape. Snow donuts are quite rare as they are only formed in perfect wind and gravity conditions.
Have you ever seen a rainbow in the sky when it was not raining? You’re not going crazy! These bright colors are actually the result of ice crystals formed in the clouds of the sky. When the sun reaches 58 degrees above the horizon, its rays are refracted in the sky because of these ice crystals present in the clouds. The refracted light forms a halo parallel to the horizon, but the entire circular shape is very difficult to be seen. Instead, you’ll probably see a small portion of that halo that makes the clouds seem to be on fire.
You’ve probably heard of the Aurora Borealis. It is jaw-dropping to see these colors fill the sky of the Nordic countries. This is the famous aurora, but it is not the only one. An aurora is a light display generated by electrically charged particles pushed to the earth through the solar wind. These particles travel along magnetic lines into the upper atmosphere, where they collide with atoms of gas causing these atoms to release light. This phenomenon can only be seen in places of high latitudes. Next time you’re traveling up north, try not to miss this beautiful nature spectacle.
This might look like something you’d see in a Tim Burton movie, but it’s actually a natural occurrence in the winter of a Finland’s city called Lapland. This is simply thick layers of snow surrounding trees making them seem like something out of a drawing. Sometimes in the winter, the sun does not shine for days and freezing temperatures coat the ground with more and more snow — it is probably the best place to build your snowman!
Flowers in full bloom do not last long, and this flower made of ice is even more fragile. Ice flowers bloom around the base of certain types of plants and wood. When the local atmosphere is very low and the internal temperature of the flower is high, water flows to the surface. As soon as the water leaves the plant and freezes, it results in this sensitive and fragile ice structure that assumes many beautiful shapes as the one you can see in the image above.
Columnar basalt can be found anywhere in the world — at least anywhere that there was once a lava flow. As soon as the lava cools down, it breaks in a perpendicular direction to the initial flow thus forming piles of small, rigid columns. These structures are sturdy and you can even walk on them. The uneven columns look like steps or seats that form a great place for the next hike.
Penitentes are spiky formations that can be found at high altitudes. The shards are a result of the sun’s rays interacting with a snow field. If the rays are hot enough, they can convert the ice into vapor without even going through the liquid phase. This creates little holes in the ice that attract even more heat, and the process continues until the ice breaks into crystallized spikes. Each “spear” can be up to 4 meters high, and is certainly something impressive to see.
If you live in a big city, you might be able to see this show of splendid light. Light poles only occur at temperatures of –20 degrees Celsius or less. The light is reflected from thousands of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere. These multicolored points of light are extremely rare since the temperature has to be right and too much wind can make it invisible.
Morning glory clouds
This type of cloud is very rare, but it can be found in the spring of Burketown, Queensland in Australia. These clouds can stretch up to 1000 meters long, and when they stand next to each other, they look like long roads. Because they can appear at altitudes up to 2 kilometers, they can cause dangerous turbulence for planes.
This peculiar phenomenon is not as dangerous as it seems, unless you are in a boat. The waterspout is a small tornado that forms above the water. These picturesque twisters can reach up to 305 km/h, making them fatal to anyone around it. Some people believe that this phenomenon is the explanation for many shipwrecks.
Some very small organisms in the ocean are bioluminescent, which means they produce light when they are disturbed. Bioluminescent organisms light up the area around them. They are famous for making beaches glowing becoming beautiful attractions for travelers.
When a fire is struck by a certain air current, it forms a fire whirl. Slowly the spiraling fire goes up to the air. These phenomena usually begin with bush fires, but they can quickly become a flame vortex. Sometimes the spiral can actually disengage from the fire and create a separate whirlwind. Fire whirls can be wonderful to watch, but I would not want to see it happening in person.
The sun dog phenomenon is made of circles of light in the sky defined by two points of light on each side of the sun. When the sun is low in the sky, the reflected light creates the illusion that there are three suns next to each other. This can occur anywhere in the world, so you do not have to travel to see it. Just pay attention to the sky at evening time and maybe you will be able to see one.
Have you ever looked to the sky in a cloudy day and seen a giant circle in the middle of it? This occurs when the temperature of the water in the clouds is below zero, but the water has not yet frozen. As ice crystals form, they cause evaporation of the surrounding water droplets. This leaves a large circular or elliptical hole in the clouds.
The world is full of wonders — some astonishing, some terrifying. The basic elements of Earth interact in all kinds of ways and end up producing breathtaking natural phenomena. Keep this list in mind when planning your next adventure.