Porcupyn's Blog

July 9, 2016

Drainage basins … and more

Filed under: Geography,Travel — Porcupyn @ 8:02 pm

I had not really paid much attention to this statistic before a friend posted about it on his social media. My trivia information was previously limited only to the length of rivers and, to a very limited extent, the discharge. And even what I knew about the discharge turned out to be incorrect for the most part! And when I started googling, I learned more than I had ever hoped to learn. So, here is a summary of what I found out – you are welcome to follow the links and learn more!

A drainage basin is the area of land from where all precipitation drains to a common destination. For example, the drainage basin of a river is all of the land from where it collects its water from (which obviously comes from the skies as precipitation, i.e., rainfall or snow). What is weird, and this is something I was unaware of, is that folks in USA refer to this as the watershed as well (and having lived in the USA for nearly three decades, this was what I was used to as well). However, it appears that outside of the USA, the watershed refers to the perimeter of this drainage basin, not the basin itself.

What was really surprising for me was how the rivers of the world get ranked based on length, water discharge and drainage/catchment basin size. Without further ado, here are the rankings (by river):

By drainage basin:

  • Amazon
  • Congo
  • Nile

By length:

  • Nile
  • Amazon
  • Yangtze

By discharge volume:

  • Amazon
  • Congo
  • Ganga-Brahmaputra-Padma (I don’t know why/when Padma got renamed as Meghna, or have I been mistaken all along? Upon further googling, it appears that Padma becomes Meghna!)

It was a revelation that the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Padma river was number three in the world in terms of discharge volume and that Nile and Missouri-Mississippi were nowhere among the top rivers. I had read about the Missouri-Mississippi being among the longest rivers, but it didn’t make the top five. So now, I wonder how the lengths are/were calculated – were the lengths being combined when they counted it as one of the top three? One thing that strikes me as unfair is how the rivers are named. I don’t recall reading about the Parana river in Geography (maybe because we learned of it as Rio de la Plata). However, it appears to be the longest river in South America behind the Amazon. But what is weird is that it drains into the Rio de la Plata, which is a runt of a river – just 290 km in length! It would be more correct, in my opinion, for the longest river to keep its name throughout (though this might result in the Ganga being renamed as Yamuna past Allahabad!!).

Another interesting way to rank the rivers would be by depth (another parameter I had not thought of previously, until I read about the Congo being the deepest river). So, here are the rivers ranked by depth (well, I stopped after Congo as it appears that this is not a verified figure for rivers and even for Congo, it does not sustain this depth for a long time):

  • Congo

Fast fact: Did you know that the flow of the Amazon is so powerful that no bridges can be built across it?

Trivia question: Which river flows through the most capitals (of countries)?


December 10, 2015

Whatever happens in Las Vegas …

Filed under: Family,Geography,Humour,Travel — Porcupyn @ 7:02 am

… obviously, stays in Las Vegas. But I surely can talk about what happened outside of Las Vegas, no?

During the Thanksgiving hols (for kids, more than us parents), we had an opportunity to claim a decent hotel rate and airfare, so decided to take the plunge and plan a trip to Las Vegas. Mrs. Porcupyn and I took three days off work apiece for this purpose.

The original plan was to leave on Friday evening, the week before Thanksgiving, and return next Friday, i.e., Black Friday. However, Katya’s soccer schedule interfered (which, in hindsight, was good – she managed to participate in her first non-loss game). As a result, we rescheduled to leave on Monday morning and return on Saturday night.

Our initial thought was to hang around Las Vegas for three days and then head over to San Diego and spend three days there (or the other way around) before returning. However, the changed schedule resulted in the loss of a day. Besides, by this time, I had realized that though Las Vegas proper might not be my cup of tea, there was plenty to do in the surrounding area by way of nature. So, even a week exclusively devoted to a stay in Las Vegas appeared to fall short of stuff that I wanted us to do.

So, we decided to limit ourselves to Las Vegas. In spite of starting to plan a couple of months before the trip, we soon got bogged down in our respective schedules, with the net result that even the week before, none of us had a concrete idea of what we were going to do, except fly out and back!!

In a frenzy during the week prior to our departure, I managed to ask around (on and offline) and get information about the basic nature attractions in the general vicinity that could be visited as a day trip. Here was our short list (some of the names might not be the official ones):

  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Zion National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Death Valley
  • Hoover Dam
  • Some place with sand dunes (that I had read about somewhere but did not remember when and where)
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Arches National Park

As you can see, the list got out of hand pretty quickly. There was no way we could have gotten to some of these places with the five-six days we had in mind, and even to those we would have gotten to, we could not have done much.

So, we decided to play it by ear based on weather conditions. Fortunately, the weather was not going to be too bad – I had worried that we might run into snow and/or ice/sleet. In hindsight, once more, it appears that I had not done my homework properly – even the weather we encountered was apparently colder than normal. It was ironic to face weather in the 40s in Las Vegas while friends visiting the Atlantic coast up north got 60s!! Oh well … [more to follow]

August 30, 2007

Google Earth is expanding to the skies …

Filed under: Geography — Porcupyn @ 2:45 pm

check this out!

May 13, 2007

How many Israels …

Filed under: Geography — Porcupyn @ 2:12 pm

… can fit in your country/state/geographical area?

I was eating a string cheese when I learned that one is never 650 miles from an ocean in Australia. So, I wondered how big Australia is compared to India (I had a rough idea), and came upon the ‘compare with Israel’ web page.

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