Aerial riverscapes: Lapland, Sweden

Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

One of the best parts about flying in an airplane is peering out the tiny, porthole-like windows and taking in the surreal expanse of land or water beneath you. While cruising tens of thousands of feet above the Earth's surface, sweeping landforms and winding waterways start to resemble great abstract murals.

There's plenty of amazing geographical features to glean from the window seat of an airplane (or, in the case of the more technologically savvy, a camera drone), but perhaps one of the most riveting are the Earth's riverscapes, like the one seen above from Lapland, Sweden.

It's dizzying sights like these that have inspired the work of artists and scientists alike, including aerial archaeologist Klaus Leidorf and Bernhard Edmaier, a "geologist-turned-photographer" who captivated fine art enthusiasts with his stunning "Earthsong" art book.

Continue below for more breathtaking aerial riverscapes around the world.

Aerial riverscapes: Alberta, Canada

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Alberta, Canada

Aerial riverscapes: South Carolina lowcountry

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South Carolina Lowcountry

Aerial riverscapes: Myrdalssandur

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Mýrdalssandur, Iceland

Aerial riverscapes: Helmand River

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Helmand River, Afghanistan

Aerial riverscapes: Mongolia

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Aerial riverscapes: Borneo River

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Aerial riverscapes: Imperial Valley

Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Imperial Valley, California

Aerial riverscapes: Fierz drini river

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The Drin, Fierzë, Albania

Aerial riverscapes: Oder River in Ratzdorf

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Oder River, Ratzdorf, Germany

Aerial riverscapes: Jamame, Somalia

Photo: Stephen Morrison/AFP/Getty Images

Jamame, Somalia

Aerial riverscapes: Canberra, Australia

Photo: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Near Canberra, Australia

Aerial riverscapes: Fraser River in Vancouver

Photo: Josef Hanus/Shutterstock

Fraser River, Vancouver, Canada

Aerial riverscapes: Missouri River in Montana

Photo: trekandshoot/Shutterstock

Missouri River, Montana

Aerial riverscapes: River Ebro in Saragossa

Photo: Xurxo Lobato/Cover/Getty Images

River Ebro, Zaragoza, Spain

Aerial riverscapes: Amazon river

Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon River

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.