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A day in the life of earth & weather. (Earth Science).

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR PLANET?

Talk about the ultimate workaholic. Earth is on the move 24/7, spinning, shaking, heating up, and cooling down. So just what goes on in a day in the life of Earth and weather? Check out the next four pages, and sleuth out the facts to answer the questions below.
1. In 24 hours,
Earth rotates on
its axis to create
one day. One
Earth day is
longer than one
"day" on

A. Venus.
B. Mars.
C. Jupiter.
D. Pluto.

2. How
low can cold
go? The lowest
temperature
recorded
on Earth in a
single day:

A. -79.62[degrees]F
B. -97.82[degrees]F
C. -105.8[degrees]F
D. -128.56[degrees]F

3. Earth
gives you plenty
of freshwater to
drink every day.
Where's the
largest supply
of freshwater?

A. oceans
B. underground
C. reservoirs
D. ice

4. How
many lightning
bolts strike
Earth each day?

A. 30,000
B. 580,000
C. 3.7 million
D. 8.6 million

5. When do
tornadoes only
happen?

A. spring.
B. summer.
C. fall.
D. anytime

6. Earth's
surface is made
up of tectonic
plates. Which of
the following is
not located on
the Pacific Plate?

A. Australia
B. Hawaii
C. Fiji
D. Samoa


All answers to questions in this article are in the Teacher's Edition

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF EARTH

You think you're busy? Check out planet Earth.

PLATES ON THE GO

It's not a fiddle: You're always in motion when you're standing still. That's because Earth's crust (surface) is broken into giant moving slabs of rock called tectonic plates. And every day the plates--between 15 to 200 kilometers (9 to 124 miles) thick--slide past or grind against each other at an average rate of 0.027 cm (0.01 in.).

SHAKY GROUND

Each day, nearly 50 earthquakes are detected globally. But the U.S. Geological Survey estimates thousands of quakes go unnoticed--they're too weak to detect or they occur in remote areas. What triggers a quake? Moving tectonic plates elbow each other; over time pressure builds up at the faults, or fractures in Earth's crust marking the boundary between plates. When pressure exceeds the strength of the rocks, the rocks on either, or both, fault sides buckle. Then a sudden wave of energy jolts to the surface and causes the ground to rumble.

RESEARCH: Scientists believe what factor is the leading cause of deaths in earthquakes?

MOVING MOUNTAINS

True or false: Mountains can grow or shrink in a day.

* Earth's highest summit continues to rise. The 8,850 meter (29,035 foot)-high Mount Everest grows about 4 millimeters (0.16 inch) per year. That's because the Himalayas, the range that includes Everest, was formed 50 million years ago when the Eurasian and Indian plates collided. Today, the plates continue to press against each other, causing the mountains to rise.

* Mount St. Helens, a volcano in Washington State, really blew its lid when it erupted on May 18, 1980. The mountaintop was blasted into volcanic ash and other debris, shrinking the summit height from 2,950 m (9,677 ft) to 2,550 m (8,364 ft).

RESEARCH: What causes a volcano to erupt, and why do scientists find the plate tectonics beneath Mount Etna unusual?

WATER WORLD

How are tap and toilet water similar? They both come from the 1 percent of water on Earth available for daily human use. Freshwater comes from aquifers (underground water-storage units) and surface water sources, like lakes and rivers. And while oceans contain 97 percent of Earth's water, it's undrinkable saltwater. The remaining 2 percent of global water is trapped in icecaps, glaciers, and icy mountaintops.

The average American uses 303 to 379 liters (80 to 100 gallons) of freshwater daily, flushing most down the toilet. Bathing ranks second. As for drinking, health experts suggest eight glasses per day, but most people ignore the advice.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS--THEN READ "WATER WORLD"

Q: What percentage of Earth's water is available for human use?

A. 1 B. 34 C. 97

Q: On average, you use the most amount of water for which purpose?

A. drinking B. bathing C. flushing toilet
EARTH'S WATER

Saltwater 97%

Freshwater (lakes,
rivers, streams,
underground aquifers) 1%

Ice 2%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

WHAT'S A DAY?

One day on Earth lasts just under 24 hours.
That's the amount of time it takes for the planet
to rotate once on its axis. How fast does Earth
spin? About 1,670 km (1,038 mi) per hour! Below
are the hours that make up one "day" for all the
planets in the solar system. Calculate the number
of Earth days on each planet.

 EQUALS
 HOW MANY
 LENGTH OF DAY DAYS ON
 (IN HOURS) EARTH?

MERCURY 1,407.6
VENUS 5,832.5
EARTH 23.934 1
MARS 24.62
JUPITER 9.92
SATURN 10.5
URANUS 17.24
NEPTUNE 16.11
PLUTO 153.3


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF WEATHER

It's pouring one moment and sunny the next. But that's normal in the crazy world of weather.

FAST FLASH

More than 8.6 million lightning bolts strike Earth each day--approximately 100 per second. Pictured here is the world's most lightning-plagued nation. Last year, a scientist at the Institute for Space Studies in this largest and most populous country in South America used satellite data to map lightning occurrences. He found that his country--also home to Amazon rainforests and the 2002 World Cup soccer championship team--receives approximately 70 million bolts a year. That's twice as many as the U.S., which is geographically similar in size. Lightning also claims about 100 lives each year here--approximately 10 percent of all lightning-related deaths in the world.

Name the country: --

BLOWN AWAY

Tornado season in the U.S. usually takes place between early spring and late fall. But the fast-blowing twisters can occur anytime. Last November, an outbreak of 88 tornadoes ripped through Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over one weekend, claiming more than 30 lives. Despite the deadly disasters, 2002 had the lowest number of tornadoes in at least a decade. (The U.S. government has yet to finalize the year-end count.) There were 1,213 twisters in 2001.

FASTEST WIND SPEED: The fastest wind ever measured is inside a tornado. It blew in at 512 kilometers per hour (318 miles per hour) on May 3, 1999, near Moore, Oklahoma.

THE WORLD'S WINDIEST PLACE: Port Martin, Antarctica, is buffeted by an average wind speed of 64 km/h (40 mph).
TWISTER TIME Use the data below to find the average annual
number of tornadoes in the U.S. for the five years featured.

YEAR NUMBER OF TORNADOES

1960 616
1970 653
1980 866
1990 1133
2000 1071

Note: Table made from bar graph.


WIND SWEPT What do places in the northwest Pacific Ocean west of the international dateline, like Guam (below), call tropical cyclones with winds over 74 mph?

GET DRENCHED

Scientists estimate that at any given moment 1,800 thunderstorms soak Earth with rain. Of the approximate 16 million annual storms, 100,000 splatter the U.S. mainland. Check out these rainy facts:

RAINIEST SPOT ON EARTH: Scientists can't seem to agree on the official winner. That's because storms vary in number and strength from year to year. Here are the top contenders and their annual average on record:
 HIGHEST AVERAGE
 LOCATION ANNUAL RAINFALL
 ON RECORD

Lloro, Colombia 13.30 m (43.63 ft)
Mawsynram, India 11.87 m (38.95 ft)
Mt. Waialeale, Kauai, HI 11.68 m (38.33 ft)


RAINIEST DAY: The wettest 24-hour period ever recorded began on January 7, 1966. Tropical cyclone Denise pelted Foc-Foc on Reunion, a small island in the Indian Ocean, with 182.5 centimeters (72 inches) of rain.

RAINIEST MOMENT: In one minute on November 26, 1970, 3.8 cm (1.5 in.) of rain pounded Barot, a town on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

DRIEST SPOT ON EARTH: Parts of Arica, Chile, have not seen rain for decades. This city average yearly rainfall, based on data over 59 years, is a mere 0.73 mm (0.03 in.).

DRIEST SPOT IN THE U.S.: For the past 42 years, the average annual rainfall in Death Valley, Calif., drips in at 1.63 in. (4.14 cm).

EXTREME WEATHER

Every moment, there's a spot on Earth cold enough to make your teeth chatter or hot enough to make you sweat. Below are some record-setting temperatures. Use these formulas to calculate the temperatures in both degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius:
 CELSIUS: FAHRENHEIT:
 ([degrees]F - 32) / 1.8 ([degrees]C x 1.8) + 32

HIGHEST 58[degrees]C
RECORDED WORLD
TEMPERATURE:
Al Aziziyah, Libya
September 13, 1922

HIGHEST 134[degrees]F
RECORDED U.S.
TEMPERATURE:
Death Valley,
California
July 10, 1913

HOTTEST SPOT 34.4[degrees]C
ON EARTH:
Dallol, Ethiopia
(Average
temperature):

COLDEST SPOT -57.8[degrees]C
ON EARTH: Polus
Nedostupnosti,
Antarctica
(Average
temperature):

LOWEST -80[degrees]F
RECORDED U.S.
TEMPERATURE:
Prospect Creek,
Alaska
January 23, 1971

LOWEST -89.2[degrees]C
RECORDED
TEMPERATURE:
Vostok, Antarctica
July 21, 1983


Did You Know?

* The strongest earthquake ever recorded measured 9.5 on the Richter scale. It struck Chile on May 22, 1960, killing more than 5,000 people. But the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century measured 7.8. It shook Tianjin, China, on July 28, 1976, and claimed more than 255,000 lives.

* Mount Washington in North Conway, New Hampshire holds two weather records. Not only is it the windiest spot in the U.S., where wind speed averages 35.3 miles per hour, it's also the coldest place on the U.S. mainland. Last year, its temperature averaged 26.5[degrees]F.

* The single deadliest tornado in U.S. history ripped through Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri on March 18, 1925. Dubbed the Tri-State Tornado, it whipped with an average wind speed of 65 mph. And in 3.5 hours of continuous destruction, the twister killed 695 people and destroyed 15,000 homes.

Cross-Curricular Connection

Social Studies: Research and report on the aftermath of a natural disaster. How does it impact the life, economy, and health of a community?

Critical-Thinking:

Come up with 10 methods to conserve household freshwater.

CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING

A Day in the Life of Earth and Weather

Answers will vary but should include the following concepts:

1. Earth's crust is broken into giant moving slabs of rock called tectonic plates. And faults are the fractures in the crust marking the boundaries between plates. Antarctica is 98 percent covered in ice, which holds 70 percent of all Earth's freshwater.

2. Brazil, in South America, is the most lightning-plagued nation on Earth. It receives 70 million bolts per year. The lowest recorded temperature on Earth took place on July 21, 1983 in Vostok, Antarctica. It measured -89.2[degrees]C.

Directions: Write a paragraph using the words provided.

1. You've been invited to write an action movie for a famous director. Write a synopsis of the story. (tectonic plates, faults, Antarctica)

2. You're a meteorologist. Present a global weather report. (South America, lightning, lowest recorded temperature)

ANSWERS

1. c 2. d 3. d 4. d 5. d 6. a (also c: While not featured on the map, Fiji is actually located on a small place called Fiji plate, sometimes called Fijian platelet.)

Plates on the Go:

Afghanistan sits on the Eurasian plate.

The pacific is a major plate, while the Arabian is often considered a minor one. Also, the Pacific plate is covered mostly by an ocean.

Shaky Ground:

Building collapse is the factor that causes most death in earthquakes.

Water World:

Left: a Right: c

What's in a Day?

Mercury: 58.81 Venus: 243.69 Earth: 1 Mars: 1.03 Jupiter: 0.41 Saturn: 0.44 Uranus: 0.72 Neptune: 0.67 Pluto: 6.4

Moving Mountains:

For a great explanation, visit: abcnews.go.com/sections/science/DailyNews/mtetna991020.html

Fast Flash: Brazil

Twister Time: 867.8

Windswept: Typhoon

Get Drenched:

In most cases, an area must receive less that 25 cm (10 in.) of rain each year to be classified a desert.

U.S.: Mojave Desert

Chile: Atacama Desert

Extreme Weather:

Highest Recorded World Temperature: 136.4[degrees]F

Highest Recorded U.S. Temperature: 56.66[degrees]C

Hottest Spot on Earth: 93.92[degrees]F

Coldest Spot on Earth: -72.04[degrees]F

Lowest Recorded U.S. Temperature: -62.22[degrees]C

Lowest Recorded Temperature: -128.56[degrees]F

Resources

For more on tectonic plates, check out "This Dynamic Earth: The Story of Plate Tectonics" at pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/dynamic.html

For a fun and interesting site to help students learn about volcanoes, visit Volcano World at www.volcanoworld.org

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center offers a wide variety of earthquake information, including record-breaking facts and background. See: neic.usgs.gov

National Weather Services sites:

Tornado: www.nssl.noaa.gov/NWSTornado/ Hurricane: www.nhc.noaa.gov/

National Climatic Data Center's Extreme Weather and Climate Events:

lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/ extremes.html
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:planet Earth
Author:Chiang, Mona
Publication:Science World
Date:Jan 24, 2003
Words:2188
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