Sea Ice and Sun Glitter Path

January 22, 2014

Glitter_path_ice_sea jpg (2)

Photographer: H. Joachim Schlichting 
Summary Authors: H. Joachim Schlichting; Jim Foster

Part of my nonstop flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Fairbanks, Alaska this past summer took place above a dense blanket of clouds. By the time the cloud deck finally broke apart we had already reached the zone of the Arctic sea ice shown above. A golden glitter patch stretching across the sea revealed water covered by ripples (waves) that otherwise couldn't be seen from our altitude of about 6 mi (10 km). Although reflection from the glitter path dominates this scene, note how the bright snow-covered ice cakes can be detected through the thin cloud layer. Observed from a high-flying commercial jet, with the Sun well above the horizon, the glitter patch takes on an elliptical shape. It's centered on the point where the Sun's reflected image would be expected if the sea was still. Photo taken on August 1, 2013.

Photo Details: Camera Maker: FUJIFILM; Camera Model: X10; Focal Length: 7.1mm; Aperture: f/7.1; Exposure Time: 0.0008 s (1/1200); ISO equiv: 100; Software: Digital Camera X10 Ver1.02.