Up, up and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon… So the song goes, but what’s it actually like way up high in the atmosphere? Could we humans live up there if we wanted to, or had to? I recall David Attenborough doing a great documentary in the series “The Living Planet” (“The Sky Above” episode, BBC) where he ascended beneath a very large hot-air balloon, complete with oxygen mask and equipment for sampling for life specimens. It was surprising to discover that small insects could be whisked up there and freeze, before descending again and reviving.
Clouds come in many different types and are characterised and named according to both their shape and height in the atmosphere. While a single snapshot in time at a given location may only contain one type of cloud, there are many days when multiple cloud types can be observed in the sky at once. The satellite images below is a nice example of different cloud types sitting at different levels above Waikato. Here's what the satellite image looked like Saturday afternoon 3 July 2010, for southwestern parts of Waikato near Kawhia Harbour:
The news in late November 2009 made much of the presence of icebergs heading north out of the Southern Ocean. There is an impressive photo of one of the icebergs here. The story got me thinking again about the amazing properties of water, so I will continue the thread of a previous post by focusing on ice.