Fata Morgana

[image by Howie Koss]

[image by Howie Koss]

“A wonderful mirage of the Fata Morgana type was visible. The day was clear and bright, with a blue sky overhead and some rime aloft.

“The distant pack is thrown up into towering barrier-like cliffs, which are reflected in blue lakes and lanes of water at their base. Great white and golden cities of Oriental appearance at close intervals along these clifftops indicate distant bergs, some not previously known to us. Floating above these are wavering violet and creamy lines of still more remote bergs and pack. The lines rise and fall, tremble, dissipate, and reappear in an endless transformation scene. The southern pack and bergs, catching the sun’s rays, are golden, but to the north the ice-masses are purple. Here the bergs assume changing forms, first a castle, then a balloon just clear of the horizon, that changes swiftly into an immense mushroom, a mosque, or a cathedral. The principal characteristic is the vertical lengthening of the object, a small pressure-ridge being given the appearance of a line of battlements or towering cliffs. The mirage is produced by refraction and is intensified by the columns of comparatively warm air rising from several cracks and leads that have opened eight to twenty miles away north and south.”

[image by Jack Green, NSF]

[image by Jack Green, NSF]

About Ernest Shackleton

Polar Explorer. Leader of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917.
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