|Sometimes, the best
way to convey information is through images. You can download free images of scientific
and environmental phenomenon from many Internet sites. Links to some of them are listed in
the "Free Downloadable Images of Earth & Space" section of this site's
"Recommended Links" page. Here are some remarkable
images of scientific phenomena. (Check back here again because more pictures will be added
regularly.) Click on each image to enlarge it.
- OLDEST KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF A TORNADO TAKEN ON AUGUST, 28, 1884.
Photo location: Near Howard, South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and
- THE 2OO MILE PER HOUR WINDS OF HURRICANE ANDREW DROVE THIS 1 X 4
FOOT BOARD THROUGH THE TRUNK OF A ROYAL PALM. (Photo courtesy of National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration).
- TROPICAL CYCLONE IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN IN FEBRUARY 2003.
(Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service.)
- WATERSPOUTS IN THE BAHAMAS. (Photo courtesy of the National
Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.)
- WATERSPOUT OFF FLORIDA COAST PHOTOGRAPHED FROM AN AIRCRAFT.
Date: September 10, 1969. (Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric
- WHIRLPOOL IN THE AIR. A formation of ice, clouds and fog
spins off the east coast of Greenland. Date: May 14, 2001. Notice the massive size of this
disturbance, as indicated by the scale on the photos lower right corner. (Image
courtesy of NASA.)
- LIGHTNING STRIKES WASHINGTON, DC. (Photo courtesy of Keven
Ambrose.) More of Kevin's fantastic weather photographs are posted at http://www.weatherbook.com.
- METEORS PELTED THE EARTH AS THE NORTHERN LIGHTS PERFORMED ON AUGUST
12, 2000. In the foreground is Hahn's Peak, an extinct volcano in Colorado. (Photo
courtesy of Jimmy Westlake.)
- BARRINGER METEOR CRATER, ARIZONA. Diameter: About one mile.
Depth: About 700 feet. Age: About 50,000 years. Click here to access more information and
pictures of impact craters.
- ARTIST'S CONCEPT OF A CATASTROPHIC ASTEROID IMPACT WITH THE EARLY
EARTH. A collision with a 500-km-diameter asteroid would effectively sterilize the
planet. The Earth may have experienced such traumas in its youth. (Photo courtesy of
Click here to go to a site
featuring a quick movie simulating a meteor hitting the Earth.
- A DIGITAL SUNSET OVER EUROPE AND AFRICA.
This photo is a digital composite of images taken by several Earth-orbiting satellites and
ocean-fairing ships. (Image courtesy of NASA.)
- EARTH LIGHTS. The brightest areas of the Earth are the most
urbanized, but not necessarily the most populated. Compare western Europe with China and
India. (Image courtesy of NASA.)
- ASH PLUME STREAMS FROM MT. ETNA, SICILY. When this
photograph was taken from Space Station Alpha on July 22, 2001, Mt. Etna's ash cloud
reached about 5.2 kilometers into the atmosphere. Etna's record of volcanism is one of the
longest in the world, dating back to 1500 BC. Two styles of volcanism are typical:
explosive eruptions from the summit and flows from fissures on the volcano's flanks.
(Photo courtesy of NASA.) Click here to learn more
about Italy's volcanoes. Click here to
learn more about volcanoes all over the world.
- THE THIN LINE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH ON MT. ETNA. Lily
Whiteman stands between a lava flow on Mount Etna and a tree that narrowly escaped the
lava onslaught during the early 1990s. (Photo by Dorit Whiteman.)
- THE WRITING ON THE WALL...This house's owner evidently
believed that the government should have stopped the lava flow from Mt. Etna that
destroyed the structure. (Photo by Lily Whiteman.)
- SMOKIN'! Mount Stromboli, an island off the coast of Sicily,
erupts every half hour or so; it is almost as predictable as Old Faithful. Stromboli,
which is one of Europe's highest volcanoes, is also one of the worlds most spectacular and
most accessible places for volcano-watching. You don't even have to climb the mountain to
get a good view of the fireworks; tourists hire boats to motor them around the island at
night so that they can see the volcano's red flames against the black sky. Videos and photos of eruptions
and associated tsunami damage are posted at Stromboli Online.
- THE EUROPEAN ALPS. This mosaic is in quasi-natural color.
(Image courtesy of NASA.)
- THE HEAT IS ON! The Rhone-Glacier in Switzerland shows the
effect of global warming. The lower dashed lined marks glacial extent in about 1600; the
solid line marks glacial extent in about 1850; and the upper dashed line marks glacial
extent in about 1900. The edge of the glacier is now perched at the top of the hill. Click here to see more
pictures of shrinking glaciers.
- THE DEAD ZONE. (Photo courtesy of NASA.) There are now many
Dead Zones around the world -- parts of the ocean that can become so oxygen starved that
they are almost sterile.
Every summer, 7,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico becomes a Dead Zone. What causes
this phenomenon? Oxygen in the Gulf's Dead Zone is consumed by the decay of massive algae
blooms, which are fertilized by tons of fertilizer, sewage and animal waste that washes
into the Gulf from polluted rivers. Most creatures -- except for throngs of jellyfish
which thrive in polluted waters -- either flee the Dead Zone or suffocate. For more information about jellyfish
in the Dead Zone, see Lily Whiteman's article, The "Blobs of Summer" which
appeared in OnEarth -- the magazine of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
- THE OZONE HOLE. (Image courtesy of NASA.)
This year's ozone hole over Antarctica was the second largest ever recorded, according
to NASA. On September 11, 2003, the hole reached 10.9 million square miles, slightly
larger than the size of North America, but smaller than the largest ozone hole ever
recorded, which covered 11.5 million square miles on September 10, 2000.
The Antarctic ozone hole is defined as thinning of the ozone layer over the continent
to levels significantly below pre-1979 levels. Ozone blocks harmful ultraviolet rays. The
thinning of the ozone layer is linked to skin cancer in humans and other adverse
biological effects on plants and animals. Click
here to go to an enlightening site about the ozone hole.
- TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN. (Photo courtesy of Murray
Photo taken in Zimbabwe on December 4, 2002.
A total eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the Earth and the Sun, and so blocks
the Sun. Click
here to see a simulation of an eclipse.
Total eclipses are only possible because of a remarkable coincidence: The diameter of
the Sun is 400 times larger than the diameter of the Moon, and the Sun is 400 times
further from the Earth than is the Moon. Because of this fortuitous geometry, the
Moon and the Sun appear to be exactly the same size in the sky; the Moon seems to fit
snugly over the Sun -- like a lense cap. If the Moon were smaller than it is, or if it
were further away from the Earth so that it appeared smaller, the Moon would never
completely block the Sun.