Global Vision: Water, Water, Everywhere
As we become a more and more populated planet, the thirst for fresh water (Oh, come on, what pun perfection! ) grows more and more serious. Some advocates believe water rights will be the major fulcrum point of future world conflict. So, if nothing else, you know the stuff is important. Even without the world issues stuff, the way water works on the planet is seriously cool to watch.
One thing that's interesting about water is that it behaves really similarly at all different scales. To start with, check out this little tanker off the coast of California. The ripples being made by the bow of the ship look almost exactly like the ones that a tiny little boat would make in your bathtub.
Or, check out this flow of sediment laden water into the Pacific ocean, also off California. The swirling vortices it generates in the water are just like the ones you would get swirling a spoon slowly through a cup of creamy coffee.
Although that silt looks kinda nasty, not all particulate in water is an ugly thing. These mud deposits in San Pablo Bay have tints of blue and green from the water, along with red from blooms of red algae. Take a look at the lower left hand corner, and check out the rivulets of water runoff through the bottom of the river.
Another great example of crazy flow is the frantic wandering of rivulets through these mudflats near San Francisco. The ground is so flat from years of sedimentation that the water has no idea where to go. So it wanders and wanders until it finally gets to the bay.
On the other hand, when you've got over 2300 miles to cover, you don't wander much. This is the Mississippi Delta, the ending hand of the arm of a river that stretches all the way from Northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The delta is an accumulation of silt and organic matter that has been bleed out of the center of the US over thousands of years. In fact, much of the city of New Orleans is constructed over silt that was deposited long before humans in North America were speaking English(or any other European language, for that matter).
And even though that delta seems like a huge load of little bits to accumulate over time, many of the Caribbean islands are just that: Underwater sand dunes that got hung up on coral reefs, or vice-versa. Take this amazing underwater blob off the coast of Florida. Like some giant discarded silk scarf, it must have accumulated over eons of surf and storms.
Finally, we jet back to Northern California, to see Lake Shasta, a seriously wiggly artificial reservoir, and responsible for part of Northern Cali's fresh water. The white ring around the edge of this lake is due to seasonal variation in water levels from draining and re-filling. The water level varies over 230 feet from high-point, to the lowest recorded, and keeps vegetation from growing on the banks, since it gets drowned every year. This carries beauty and danger at once; river and lake bank erosion like this is implicated as cause of fish population decline, because the increased silt release chokes out gravel beds where they lay eggs.
Of course this is only a small survey of the water wonders available around the world. But this little peak should be enough to wet your appetite. Anything can be the inspiration of great design; It's all about the perspective with which you view it. We'll bring you some other views of water, forests, cities, and highways in the future to try to get you past those inspirational doldrums. As always, if you find something yourself, we'd love to see it.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team