1. Move over, Southern California. The coolest new place to catch a wave? The Arctic Circle.
2. Yes, it looks freezing. And yeah, you should probably wear more than just a bathing suit*. But can we agree this also looks incredible?
*Finding a safe, comfortable wetsuit is important in cold-water surfing!
3. These daredevils are catching waves on northern Norway’s Lofoten islands.
Folks come from all around the world to surf in the harsh conditions there. When many of these pics were taken in March 2016, the temperature was hovering around freezing.
4. One perk to surfing in Lofoten that you won’t find in Los Angeles or Hawaii is looking up and seeing the Northern Lights.
Which, admittedly, is a pretty big perk.
5. I mean, c’mon. How are these images even real?
6. They are not fake. They are not Photoshopped. They are not from a “Harry Potter” movie or a Bob Ross painting.
They’re just pure Arctic Circle beauty.
7. Even when you’re not surfing below, the lights are pretty damn spectacular.
8. You can spot them near the poles when gaseous particles in our atmosphere collide with charged particles released from the sun, and pure magic* happens.
9. If happiness has a color, I vote we call it “aurora borealis” (what these lights have been dubbed in the Northern Hemisphere).
Because how can you look at this and not smile?
10. And if you’re wondering why some lights are green while others are yellow or pink, it depends on what particles are colliding.
The most common tone you’ll spot is a pale yellow-green, similar to what you see above. It’s produced by oxygen molecules about 60 miles above the Earth.
11. OK, sorry, now back to the surfing…
12. I don’t even surf! But these people (and the gorgeous views) make me want to try.
BRB, booking a flight to Norway…
13. Beyond inspiring us all to take up water sports, these pics are a stunning reminder of just how precious the Arctic Circle really is.
I hate to be Debbie Downer, but beautiful places like Lofoten may look way different in the coming decades unless we slash our collective carbon footprint (and fast).
14. Climate change is drastically changing our planet. And the Arctic has been ground zero for these changes.
15. In fact, the Arctic is warming at a rate of nearly twice the global average, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
16. Not only is Arctic sea life being affected — which is, in turn, affecting entire ecosystems — but fast-melting ice means a rise in global sea levels, too.
And that doesn’t bode well if you live on a coast.
17. So, yes, let’s enjoy these magnificent views.
18. And appreciate the brave people who surf their seas.
19. But also remember our world is a fragile one.
And it’s definitely worth saving.
Now, back to buying that ticket…