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Friday, June 22, 2007

Little old provincial me

A quirky news report caught my eye yesterday... the kind of story one only sees on slow news days (and BTW, thank G-d for slow news days!!!)  It was about a glacial lake in a remote section of Chile that simply disappeared.  I love this kind of stuff, so it's no wonder I clicked over and started to read this bizarre story. 

According to the article, the lake is gone and nobody has a clue where it went.  No, seriously.  The entire lake simply vanished.  Some park rangers wandered by and noticed this huge crater in the ground where the lake had been... with huge chunks of glacial ice that should have been floating in the lake, lying on the bottom.

As soon as I read that part I wanted to find out how big a lake we were talking about, so I started scanning ahead, looking for details, measurements... some sort of hard dimensions to wrap my brain around.  I mean, after all... if it was some dinky pond that dries up on a regular basis, why waste my time...

So I get to the part where it says the dry lake bed the rangers discovered was actually a hole 30 meters deep.  OK... 30 meters.  While I'm not fluent in metric by any stretch of the imagination, I could now picture a pretty big whole in the ground.  But what I really needed was a sense of how much area the lake had covered.

And then I found it:  Two Hectares. 

Huh? [~scratches head~]

Throw me a bone here... give me a measurement in miles, yards, meters, even acres, and I can get a pretty good handle on the dimensions of the missing lake.  But I have absolutely no frame of reference for hectares.

Growing up I couldn't tell you what an acre was (I still can't), but I knew that average houses sat on a quarter acre of land... wealthier folks had a half acre... and the really well-off people had estates of 3/4 acres and up.  I can even muddle through with the local 'dunam' measures since a dunam is pretty much a quarter acre.  See that?  A frame of reference makes all the difference.

Just as I can't quantify what 75 degrees  F means to me, I know it feels mighty fine.  24 degrees C is a complete mystery for lack of a frame of reference.

So of course I Googled 'Hectare'... and despite a very thorough explanation, I'm still every bit is clueless as I was before reading the definition.

I know, I know... I'm showing the sheltered American side of myself here, but is there anyone out there who has a handle on hectares and can give me a usable frame of reference?

Love,

Your Provincial Host, Trep.

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Posted by David Bogner on June 22, 2007 | Permalink

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2 hectares = 4.94210763 acres

type "2 hectares in acres" in the google search box and watch the magic.

Posted by: Lee | Jun 22, 2007 3:44:28 PM

I read this story on yahoo. The article I read said the lake was about the size of ten soccer fields. I actually think it said "football pitches" but I don't think soccer deserves to be compared to that great American game.

Posted by: Jonah | Jun 22, 2007 3:57:18 PM

*sigh*

Insanely Handy Everything Conversion Thing

(didn't you actually lecture us some years ago about what else Google can do, despite serving our mediocre research methods??)

Posted by: Account Deleted | Jun 22, 2007 4:06:59 PM

Lee... Did I mention that I barely have handle on fractions of an acre. Multiple acres are just as unquantifiable as hundreds of degrees of heat. Next.

Jonah... See that folks? Jonah was paying attention in class. While i don't really know what a soccer field looks like, I imagine it is not that much different than an American Football field. Nice work.

a. ... Being able to come up with a number doesn't mean I have a frame of reference. If you told me that google could tell me that a hectare was the size of a city block in mid-town Manhattan or maybe the deck of an aircraft carrier... then I might have a clue.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 22, 2007 4:14:29 PM

I found this quote:

A hectare of land - 1 sq.km or about the size of two football fields

From :SeedQuest - Central information website for the global seed industry

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jun 22, 2007 4:44:51 PM

David

Can you visualize an American football field, endzones included? That's an acre. Because the laws of the game allow real football pitches so much leeway in dimensions, it is difficult to treat area as multiples of pitches.

The metric system is just as arbitrary as any other system of measurement, but it is internally consistent and easy. But it fails to have any human reference.

For examples, an inch is the width of a man's thumb; a foot is, well, a foot; a yard is the distance from a man's nose to his outstretched hand; a mile is one thousand (mil) Roman paces (the Romans counted a pace as the distance between right foot step to the next right foot step; the left foot does not count).

Me? I can visualize a klick (kilometer) easily. Not so a mile. But I still use cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, pints, and other English measures in the kitchen. "Dissolve 100 grams of butter in 250 milliliters of hot chicken stock." Get stuffed!

Before I go,
To Jonah:

Die, die, die! Real football is much more demanding a sport than the American game. I've played (college), coached, and refereed -- including officiating at the professional level. I love this sport!

(Just kidding about the 'Die, die, die!')

Posted by: antares | Jun 22, 2007 4:49:40 PM

Sorry about that.

The lake area was just under 4.5 American football fields.

Making a couple of assumptions, the about 79 million gallons of water went missing or about 120 minimum sized olympic swimming pools.

Posted by: Lee | Jun 22, 2007 4:50:47 PM

2 hectares = 23,919.8 Square Yards = 3.74 Football Fields

Posted by: Raz | Jun 22, 2007 4:51:20 PM

Umm, Trep,

Noone has said it this way yet, so I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure a hectare is simply 100m x 100m. So this lake would be 200m x 100m, although it wouldn't be round then, but that's just getting picky now.

Posted by: dfb1968 | Jun 22, 2007 4:59:14 PM

The next time you go to Machane Yehuda tell them you want a hectare of whatever it is you're buying and see what happens.

On the same thread I'll offer this. Whenever I read about a dunum of land my eyes roll back in my head.

It is the same feeling I get when I watch, oops sleep through a soccer game.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 22, 2007 5:22:02 PM

You can google things like "1 hectare in dunams" or "1 hectare in acres" and it will tell you that 1 hectare is 10 dunams, or about 2.5 acres (OK, 2.47105381 acres). For a point of reference, this is a little more than half the size of the reflecting pool near the Washington monument (OK, about 60%).

Posted by: Almost Jerusalem | Jun 22, 2007 5:25:23 PM

Umm, okay. A whole lake disappears. Overnight. Without a trace. And we're talking about hectares and dunams?
Focus, people. Focus.

Posted by: psachya | Jun 22, 2007 5:31:59 PM

Since the key to trep's post is getting a frame of reference, I will try and add another visual. The average city block in Manhattan is 264 feet x 900 feet or 26,400 Square Yards. Therefore, 2 hectares is - here it comes - just a bit smaller than a city block!

Posted by: Raz | Jun 22, 2007 5:35:48 PM

Did it really disappear "overnight"? Or maybe, nobody had actually looked for a couple of months?

Posted by: Russell | Jun 22, 2007 6:00:39 PM

How about this:

One Hectare is approx 2 acres
Hectares to Acres

Posted by: Dov | Jun 22, 2007 6:03:17 PM

It's fairly simple - a hectare is 10,000 square metres - that's 100 metres x 100 metres.

If you work on the basis that a metre is basically a yard and that an American football field is 100 yards long and about 50 yards wide then 1 hectare is the size of two American football fields.

It's erroneous to measure using proper football fields as they don't have a standard size but only minimums and maximums.

thus we're talking about a lot of lake going missing.

Posted by: gilly | Jun 22, 2007 6:41:36 PM

Frame of reference?

It was HUGE.

It appears that the lake disappeared in "sudden" two months, and it wasn't even there thirty years ago.

Any geologists around?

Posted by: Account Deleted | Jun 22, 2007 6:43:17 PM

Go to Google, the answer for everything.

Type in "1 hectare in square feet" or ".583 miles in CM" or "18 x 4.5876" or whatever you like and Google spits out the answer.

Posted by: josh in texas | Jun 22, 2007 8:30:08 PM

The answer is very simple, its happend about 100 times during a summer in Greenland every year, a glacial lake disappers.

The lake was in the front of a glacier, and there is permafrost in the underground, the bottom of the lake simply melted the permafrost and I have from other sources that the area had a lot of caves in the underground, so now you have a empty lake and a cave full of freshwater. The sediment in the lakebotton are ground pulp from the rocks rubbet of by the glaciers movement to the edge.

When the ground pulp is drying up it looks like cement and can be transported by the wind into the ice again as a duststorm and black ice melting faster than white ice.


Posted by: S.E. Hendriksen | Jun 22, 2007 10:03:33 PM

The answer is very simple, its happend about 100 times during a summer in Greenland every year, a glacial lake disappers.

The lake was in the front of a glacier, and there is permafrost in the underground, the bottom of the lake simply melted the permafrost and I have from other sources that the area had a lot of caves in the underground, so now you have a empty lake and a cave full of freshwater. The sediment in the lakebotton are ground pulp from the rocks rubbet of by the glaciers movement to the edge.

When the ground pulp is drying up it looks like cement and can be transported by the wind into the ice again as a duststorm and black ice melting faster than white ice.


Posted by: S.E. Hendriksen | Jun 22, 2007 10:08:28 PM

All of this reminds me of the first time I went shopping for fruit in a European country. I wanted about a lb of cherries, and since I didn't know any better I got 1 kilo of cherries. Needless to say, I had one mighty stomach ache (b/c I wasn't going to just *throw them away*). I was travelling solo in Europe and didn't have a house to make pies in.

Posted by: AnnieD | Jun 22, 2007 10:09:24 PM

The answer is indeed simple. A flock of ducks landed on the lake. The lake froze over suddenly, trapping the ducks by their little tucheses. Then they flew away in unison, taking the lake with them.

Didn't any of you ever see Fried Green Tomatoes, for crying out loud?

Posted by: ralphie | Jun 23, 2007 12:47:46 AM

Dave (Balashon) ... Thanks. That works for me.

antares... My my but you are an enigma. Not just passionate about the game but played it at the college level. Color me impressed.

Lee... Very strong work. Thanks.

Raz... OK, a little to exact for my needs but I'll take it.

dfb1968... Well I did ask for a frame of reference but then again, that's being sort of picky too. :-)

Jack... A dunam is about a quarter acre so that should be manageable.

Almost Jerusalem ... As helpful as google might be, it doesn't help with visualization.

psachya... I was wondering when someone would notice.

Raz... Now we're getting somewhere! Thanks.

Russell... The fact that there was still ice on the lake bottom gives one a sense of a sudden event.

DOv... Again, while I can sort of picture a quarter acre lot... I have no idea what two acres looks like.

gilly... What my mind processed from your comment was: "blablah blah blah blah. Blah blablablah a lot of lake went missing." :-)

a. ... Never a geologist around when you need one! :-)

josh in texas... Once again with feeling: I need more than the answer in numbers, I needed a frame of reference.

S.E. Hendriksen ... Yeah, real simple. :-)

AnnieD... Only a kilo of cherries? That's about half of what we eat every year a the local cherry festival. :_)

ralphie... I was wondering when someone would mention that.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 24, 2007 11:53:24 PM

And the answer to the question of what happened is

Posted by: Jack | Jul 4, 2007 7:07:32 PM

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