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 Photo: shipfactory/Shutterstock

Alberta, Canada

Aerial riverscapes: South Carolina lowcountry Photo: John Wollwerth/Shutterstock

South Carolina Lowcountry

Aerial riverscapes: Myrdalssandur Photo: Hjaltisifusson/Shutterstock

Mýrdalssandur, Iceland

Aerial riverscapes: Helmand River Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

Helmand River, Afghanistan

Aerial riverscapes: Mongolia Photo: Midkhat Izmaylov/Shutterstock


Aerial riverscapes: Borneo River Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images


Aerial riverscapes: Imperial Valley Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Imperial Valley, California

Aerial riverscapes: Fierz drini river Photo: Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images

The Drin, Fierzë, Albania

Aerial riverscapes: Oder River in Ratzdorf Photo: Patrick Pleul/AFP/Getty Images

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

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

16 aerial riverscapes that will make you want to fly
One of the best parts about flying is peering out the tiny, porthole-like windows and taking in the surreal expanse of land or water beneath you.