- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
122

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
Ostrov. It is extraordinary how shallow it is the whole
way, with low islands ; you cannot approach within
several hundred yards of the shore. Then we crossed
the first channel, west of Nosdnovski Ostrov. It cut
its way through to the northward like an arm of the
sea, with low islands on both sides. We could see no
land on the north, so the channel might have run right
out to sea for that matter.
There was mirage everywhere, both on the north
and south ; as soon as the low coast recedes a little, it
seems to be raised into the air and to have bright water
under it. It is so every day here. I have never seen
it so general and regular before ; it must be due to the
river water, which comes from the south, being a good
deal warmer than the air ; a thin layer of air is then
warmed over the surface of the water, and at the
boundary of this layer there is a total reflection of the
almost horizontal rays of light which come from the
slightly higher land far away, and from the sky above it ;
there is thus formed a reflection of the sky and land,
below the real land, which latter wc see by the direct rays
that go straight to our eyes through the colder layers
of air above. At the same time the water surface at the
horizon is lowered by refraction. It is thus the same
phenomenon as the Fata Morgana in the desert, which
causes the thirsty traveller to rejoice at delusive images
of objects far away mirrored in bright water. This
form of looming is therefore not due to refraction
raising the land into the air, as people seem often to
think.
The southern point of the narrow island west of the
channel was relatively high, and on it lived the trader.
There were other mud-huts, besides two or three tents
and one or two timber houses.
This island was divided by a narrow strait from the
122

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