25 amazing facts of Earth

1. What is the hottest place on Earth?
Count one wrong if you guessed Death Valley in California. True enough on many days. But El Azizia in Libya recorded a temperature of 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius) on Sept. 13, 1922 — the hottest ever measured. In Death Valley, it got up to 134 Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913.

2. And the coldest place around here?
Far and away, the coldest temperature ever measured on Earth was -129 Fahrenheit (-89 Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica , on July 21, 1983 .

3. Where is the worlds highest waterfall?
The water of Angel Falls in Venezuela drops 3,212 feet (979 meters).

4. What is the largest volcano?
The Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii holds the title here on Earth. It rises more than 50,000 feet (9.5 miles or 15.2 kilometers) above its base, which sits under the surface of the sea. But that’s all volcanic chump change. Olympus Mons on Mars rises 16 miles (26 kilometers) into the Martian sky. Its base would almost cover the entire state of Arizona.

5. What was the deadliest known earthquake?
The world’s deadliest recorded earthquake occurred in 1557 in central China. It struck a region where most people lived in caves carved from soft rock. The dwellings collapsed, killing an estimated 830,000 people. In 1976 another deadly temblor struck Tangshan, China. More than 250,000 people were killed.

6. How far is it to the center of the Earth?
The distance from the surface of Earth to the center is about 3,963 miles (6,378 kilometers). Much of Earth is fluid. The mostly solid skin of the planet is only 41 miles (66 kilometers) thick –thinner than the skin of an apple, relatively speaking.

7. Has the Moon always been so close?
It used to be much closer! A billion years ago, the Moon was in a tighter orbit, taking just 20 days to go around us and make a month. A day on Earth back then was only 18 hours long. The Moon is still moving away — about 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) a year. Meanwhile, Earth’s rotation is slowing down, lengthening our days. In the distant future, a day will be 960 hours long!

8. Where is the lowest dry point on Earth?
The shore of the Dead Sea in the Middle East is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level. Not even a close second is Bad Water in Death Valley, California, at a mere 282 feet below sea level.

9. What is the longest river?
The Nile River in Africa is 4,160 miles (6,695 kilometers) long.

10. What’s the driest place on Earth?
A place called Arica, in Chile, gets just 0.03 inches (0.76 millimeters) of rain per year. At that rate, it would take a century to fill a coffee cup.

11. What is the wettest place on Earth?
Lloro, Colombia averages 523.6 inches of rainfall a year, or more than 40 feet (13 meters). That’s about 10 times more than fairly wet major cities in Europe or the United States.

12. What is the largest canyon?
The Grand Canyon is billed as the world’s largest canyon system. Its main branch is 277 miles (446 kilometers) long. But let’s compare. Valles Marineris on Mars extends for about 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers). If added it to a U.S. map, it would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles. In places this vast scar on the Martian surface is 5 miles (8 kilometers) deep.

13. Which of the Earth’s oceans is the largest?
The Pacific Ocean covers 64 million square miles (165 million square kilometers). It is more than two times the size of the Atlantic. It has an average depth of 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers).

14. What is the largest lake in the world?
By size and volume it is the Caspian Sea, located between southeast Europe and west Asia.

15. How hot are the planet’s innards?
The temperature of Earth increases about 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) for every kilometer (about 0.62 miles) you go down. Near the center, its thought to be at least 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit (3,870 Celsius).

16. What’s the deepest place in the ocean?
The greatest known depth is 36,198 feet (6.9 miles or 11 kilometers) at the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean well south of Japan near the Mariana Islands.

17. What is the fastest surface wind ever recorded?
The fastest “regular” wind that’s widely agreed upon was 231 mph (372 kph), recorded at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, on April 12, 1934. But during a May 1999 tornado in Oklahoma, researchers clocked the wind at 318 mph (513 kph). For comparison, Neptune’s winds can rage to 900 mph (1,448 kph).

18. What is the world’s deepest lake?
Lake Baikal in the south central part of Siberia is 5,712 feet (1.7 kilometers) deep. It’s about 20 million years old and contains 20 percent of Earth’s fresh liquid water.

19. What is the world’s largest island?
Greenland covers 840,000 square miles (2,176,000 square kilometers). Continents are typically defined as landmasses made of low-density rock that essentially floats on the molten material below. Greenland fits this description, but it’s only about one-third the size of Australia. Some scientists call Greenland an island, others say it’s a continent.

20. How much would seas rise if the Antarctic Ice Sheet melted?
The Antarctic Ice Sheet holds nearly 90 percent of the world’s ice and 70 percent of its fresh water. If the entire ice sheet were to melt, sea level would rise by nearly 220 feet, or the height of a 20-story building. Scientists know there’s a melting trend underway. The United Nations has said that in a worst-case scenario — depending on how much global air temperatures increase — seas could jump 3 feet (1 meter) by 2100.

21. What is the longest mountain chain on Earth?
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which splits nearly the entire Atlantic Ocean north to south. Iceland is one place where this submarine mountain chain rises above the sea surface.

22. On average, how much water is used worldwide each day?
About 400 billion gallons.

23. What percentage of the world’s fresh water is stored as glacial ice?
About 70 percent. And if you had to replace it all, you’d need 60 years of the entire globe’s rainfall, and then you’d have to figure out a way to freeze it all.

24. What is the highest, driest, and coldest continent on Earth?
That would be Antarctica.

25. What is the hardest of all minerals?
Diamond, the one that becomes emotionally useless after a divorce but still retains monetary value.

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