Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Calling All Polar Bears


There's something about waking up and looking down from a position 40,000 feet above the west coast of Greenland, with a clear view of the entire landscape, that makes you realize how being in an airplane is very similar to space travel.

OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, since 747s can only fly between 8 and 9 miles above the Earth's surface, and the atmosphere extends to about 100 miles high. But this could just as easily be a view of Saturn's moon Titan, or Jupiter's moon Europa, both of which have been compared to Earth in terms of being rocky, icebound worlds that may have one day harbored life forms of some sort.


This is a photo taken about 20 minutes later, where we'd reached the end of Greenland's land mass and entered Baffin Bay, at about 62 degrees north latitude. That's not steam, it's where the warmer water is welling up beneath the ice and apparently creating breaks in the ice. The water here is probably around 30 degrees or so, and the cold air mass coming off Greenland, the world's largest island, is probably in the -30 to -40 range, which explains why this looks like a large hot tub.

I wonder if any members of any Polar Bear Clubs around the world have ever taken a dip in these waters?

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