Around the world in 8 days

I’ve flown half way round the world and back during the past week and a half.  I’ve crisscrossed the Arabian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.  I’ve been within spitting distance of the equator and seen the snow-covered landscape of Greenland!

All my raw results are posted below.  You be the scientist.  Can you make any conclusions of your own?  Does changing altitude make much of a difference at the equator?  Does it make a difference over Greenland?  What’s the average dose at 41,000′ down south?  How about up north?  What’s the dosage rate over Europe?

Riyadh to Maldives:

Multi Frame 1

Maldives to Riyadh:

Multi Frame 2

Riyadh to Paris:

Multi Frame 7

London to Detroit:

Multi Frame 3

I’ve flown over Greenland many times, but it’s always either been covered in cloud or too dark to see.  I got lucky on this flight and captured these pictures at high noon.  Notice how long the shadows are, even two months past the winter solstice?  These shots are at 62 degrees North latitude.

Greenland 1-resized

The depth of the snow in the picture above must be thousands of feet deep.  It fills in the valleys completely, leaving the craggy mountain peaks poking out like they were pine trees on an upper mountain slope.

Below is a gigantic glacier, ending in the frozen ocean.

Greenland 2-resized

Detroit to Greenville:

Multi Frame 4

Greenville to London:

Multi Frame 5

How much fuel does it take to fly from South Carolina to London?  About a truck and a half worth!


London To Riyadh:

Multi Frame 6

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12 thoughts on “Around the world in 8 days

  1. TB says:

    Thanks…very informative. I was almost ready to never fly again until I saw your very informative chart, and realized that CT scans are the most unknown danger we face out there apparently. No one points out how bad or cumulative those are. ( and even living in a brick or stone building….surprising) . I expected that flying to Japan from Seattle would show up a lot of radiation. Didn’t see it as bad as expected. Thanks.

  2. TB says:

    It would be interesting to see what the cumulative radiation is for the guys going through the TSA scanners everyday ( airline pilots and workers) , as well as the cumulative background radiation the TSA workers are exposed to on a regular basis. Since the CT scans are so high in radiation, one would wonder what the (untested?) TSA scanners are doing to the folks that fly a lot.

    • jetradjames says:

      From what I understand, the body X-Ray scanners the TSA initially used, have been replaced with millimeter wave machines that don’t emit ionizing radiation. This was due to so many protests. Europe and other areas also do not allow the use of body X-ray machines at airports.

      The X-Ray machines that you run your bags through, however, do emit harmful radiation. X-Rays don’t travel very far through material, so any insulation is good insulation. However, when the protective curtains open when a bag passes through, X-Rays are sure to be let out. Therefore, it’s prudent to stand away from the baggage X-ray machines while your going through security. I feel for the poor TSA guys who know nothing about this and sit next to those things all day. It’s not healthy.


  3. citizenperth says:

    Thankyou for your concern and personal research, this is information that is required… watch your back….. 🙂

  4. dh says:

    hello there- thank you for your blog! i am hoping you post more info. i am currently concerned about flying as i have been reading/watching leuren moret’s articles and videos and she talks about insanely high levels of radiation over the pacific basin. we are going to hawaii soon and i am considering not taking the trip! do you have any advice for someone who is concerned about flying 10 hours in high levels of radiation (someone said their geiger read near 3000 CPM at one point!)?



    • jetradjames says:

      Glad you could get some use out of the blog. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the Pacific. From what I’ve found out, radiation dissipates fairly quickly with distance from the source. If there was a large plume of radioactivity in the air from Fukijima then it would register all around the world as the jet streams (that move in excess of 100mph) would have spread it far and wide. I have not measured anything in excess of what has been predicted from solar activity.

      I think the biggest threat from Fukijima is radioactive particles, attached to dirt and other debris carried through the ocean and ingested by fish that eventually get eaten. I’m not an expert on this, but I’m fairly certain that there is not a threat to flying over the pacific.


      • dh says:

        thank you for your response! i agree that a huge concern should be the fish and ocean. unfortunately official research is either not being done or results are not being shared- so we are left to try and figure it out for ourselves 😦

        i also agree on the TSA scanners/x-ray machines. i always opt out and thanks for the tip on standing AWAY from the x-ray machine.



  5. Ronald T. Richards says:

    I am a physics professor at Universidad del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Yesterday I took a “Student Radiation Monitor” manufactured by Vernier Sortware of Beaverton, Oregon to the beach (1 meter above mean sea level) and Cerro de Punta (1338 masl) the highest mountain in Puerto Rico. At both locations I averaged 14.4 counts per minute. You also report low radiation at altitude in the tropics. What if all accounts that background radiation increases with altitude are based on data from the temperate world and are less true in the tropics?

    • jetradjames says:

      Hi Professor. Very interesting readings. Yes, it’s true that there is less radiation at high altitudes near the equator. I was getting readings of around 1.8 micro-Seiverts/hr, 40,000′, at the equator (although on the other side of the planet from you) whereas the same altitude at 60 degrees north (over the north Atlantic) was about 4.0 micr-oseiverts/hr. This phenomena is due to the earth’s magnetic field. It’s weaker where it dips into the poles and strongest over the equator. The magnetic field deflects charged particles coming from the sun. Most of those particles are energetic protons, from what I understand.


  6. I know this is a long shot but may i contact you? I’m a pilot too and I’m very interested in purchasing a dosimeter and have a few questions.

  7. AG says:

    Hi James,

    I also fly a Gulfstream in Canada and was trying to find out about gamma radiation associated with thunderstorms when I found your article. The terrestrial gamma ray flashes or TGFs are believed to be caused by intense electrical fields above and inside thunderstorms. I fly a G450 mostly in North America and usually at altitudes of 43000′ and 45000′. I was wondering if you had ever found any difference in your readings or spikes while flying over areas with active lightning.


    • jetradjames says:

      As I understand it, the terrestrial radiation flashes last less than a second. My gamma detector would never pick that short of a burst up. Electrical arcs are known for creating X Rays so it isn’t surprising that lighting can cause these bursts. I’m quite certain it is not the result of the electrical fields of a storm but the actual lightning. Just another reason not to fly over intense thunderstorms :).
      I’m betting that these TGF’s will also be found to be associated with sprites and other high altitude energy transferences. There is a really good documentary on sprites on the Smithsonian Channel that you can find on Apple TV and Roku. And I think they are flying chartered G-450’s in the show!

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