Wednesday, 30 March 2016 10:24

Why do Rivers Curve?

Looking at curvy rivers on topographic maps or Google Earth has always been really interesting to me and for the longest time I’ve wondered how that snake like shape came to be. You would think that since a straight line is technically the shortest and easiest route to the ocean that nature would like straight lines. Nope.

After stumbling upon the video below about why rivers curve, I discovered that all it takes is a little bit of disturbance and a lot of time. Take for example a tree falls over and into the water. The current is diverted slightly allowing the riverbank to slowly erode on the opposite side. The slight change in current direction then bounces off that bank and gets diverted back over to the other side causing more erosion and eventually a curve in the river. Of course this doesn’t happen overnight and that is where time is the key factor.

A diagram of a river starting to curve due to erosion.

Check out this time lapse of a river Peru to how much the river chances even over that short number of years.

River erosion timelapse.

Here is a final fun-fact for your next boring office party. It doesn’t matter how wide or big the river is, if it is flowing over soft ground, the length of an s-bend curve will be roughly six times the width of a river. So that means while a narrow river will look wigglier when comparing to a large wide river the ratio of length/width of the wiggles will always be the same no matter which river it is. Hydrodynamics are amazing.

River curve ratio. The length of an s-curve is six times it's width.

Published in General News
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 16:21

What is Sea Level?

I will be honest with you, up until today I had never really put much thought about how they determined that Mount Everest was 8,848 meters above sea level.

Wait; let me back up first lest you think I'm a simpleton. I always understood the concept of elevation but I had never thought about exactly how they figure it out considering that most times the sea is hundreds of miles of away. Also, with all that ocean sloshing around and going up and down, how do they know where to start measuring from?

Leave it up to gang at MinutePhysics to figure it out and explain it to us like the simpletons that we are.

Spoiler alert: Gravity has a big role to play in the whole thing.

Flickr photo credit: cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jimmy Emerson

Published in How Stuff Works

If you are anything like me, your mind wanders quite a bit when out paddling. For example, I often get stuck trying to figure out what exactly Eddie is singing in Pearl Jam's "Even Flow". I don't think we will ever figure that one out to be honest.

One day earlier this summer while out on a day trip I got to thinking about the clouds in the sky and trying to imagine now much water is up there. So imagine my excitement when I found the video below that answers the question, how much does a hurricane weigh?

Spoiler alert: they weigh a lot.

Published in How Stuff Works
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 14:25

How Big is the Ocean?

We all know that the ocean is large. By large I mean huge. The reality is that the ocean is so big that it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it.

To blow your mind this afternoon here is a short animation to help put everything into perspective.

Here is my favourite ocean fun-fact: The oceans of the world hold 99% of the world’s biosphere. That means that every single tree, bug, human and gopher you see on land is only 1% of what’s really out there.

Published in Environment

The European Union has just launched the second of three weather satellites which should greatly increase the accuracy of weather forecasts.

The 3.2 billion Euro project called MetOp is a joint venture between the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and involves a total of three satellites. MetOp-A launched back in 2006 and MetOp-C is scheduled to launch sometime in 2016-2018.

The sensors on MetOp-B is considerably more accurate than before:

The [satellite] measurements slice the atmosphere into air columns measuring a single horizontal kilometre wide. Scanners measure the temperature and humidity to within 1-degree C and relative 10 percent, respectively. "These crucial instruments will be used for weather forecasting and to help us all gain a better understanding of the Earth's systems," stated Gene Martin, POES Project instrument manager.

With the massive increase in near real-time atmosphere data you can bet that the lonely weather forecasters in the Netherlands will be breathing a sigh of relief. Especially if local councillors get their way and pass a law fining them for every wrong forecast made...

More info: gizmodo.com & wikipedia.org

Published in Environment

After being away for a week I’m still trying to get caught up with all the good stuff that the internet spit out since I was gone.

Last week the nerdy/sarcastic web comic, XKCD published this awesome infographic on the relative depths of the worlds lakes and oceans. Click through to view the full sized images in all its nerdy glory.

Image credit: xkcd.com

Published in General News

Low Tide Turnagain Arm

If you are like me there is a very good chance that you struggle to explain to your students the basics of how tides work.

To help solve the mystery, the gang from Minute Physics produced a very cool video that explains the basics so simply that that my 10 year-old could understand.

Also, if you have also got an extra minute why don’t you learn why some rocks on the shoreline are round while other rocks are flat and perfect for skipping across the water.

Who knew that gravity affected our lives so much? I didn’t.

Flickr Photo Credit: Low Tide Turnagain Arm / Travis / CC BY-NC 2.0

Published in Teaching

Strategic partner

Paddle Canada Logo