Clouds look like Things

Spotting shapes in clouds is a delightful way to pass a lazy afternoon. There's even a society dedicated to cloud spotting. It’s called the Cloud Appreciation Society, founded by Gavin Pretor-Pinney to foster understanding and appreciation of clouds, and to fight “blue sky thinking”.

A clear blue sky has always been associated with good, happy weather – a perfect summer’s day, while cloudy skies are regarded as a metaphor for doom. Nothing could be more depressing, it seems, than to have ‘a cloud on the horizon’. Gavin Pretor-Pinney decided that this has to stop. “Someone needs to stand up for the clouds”, he says. So in 2004, he started the Cloud Appreciation Society and few months later launched a website. People sent in their cloud photograph, which he put up on the gallery pages for others to look at. The early trickle of submission soon swelled to a torrent. Today, it has over 29,000 members worldwide from 83+ different countries, and many thousands of amazing images.

Below is a collection of some of the most peculiar cloud formations.

A cloud monkeying around over Bangkok.

Cloud Alien ahead.....Eagle River Valley, Colorado. U.S. 

Aladdin's lamp, spotted over The Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.

A baby floats over Zurich, Switzerland. Photo by Danièle Siebenhaar.

The big chicken on the roof of Manor Market in Bishop California, is being mirrored in the clouds.

A dolphin leaping from an inky black sea over Sussex, UK.

Dolphins at play, Sausalito, California. U.S..

A heart in the clouds over Norwich, UK.

A Dove over Kent, UK.

Eagle soars over Cambridge. U.K.

Elephant in a storm cloud, taken on holiday at Patong Beach, Phuket, Thailand.

A feather over Brockenhurst in the New Forest, Hants., UK.

A heart over SuperDevoluy, Saint Etienne en Devoluy, France.

A hummingbird over Berryton, Kansas, US. 

Jack Palance, spotted over Loudonville, Ohio, US.

A jellyfish over Berry, New South Wales, Australia.

A cumulus called Kitty, Western New York. U.S. 

A man running with a bouquet of flowers. Spotted over France.

A giant Mushroom over North Jutland, Denmark.

Poodle spotted over Sanderstead, Surrey. U.K.

A poodle with shades enjoys a day by the sea over Blackpool, Lancashire, UK

A rabbit hopping over Nottinghamshire, UK.

Shhhhhh dont tell anyone. There's a monster rat over Tortona, Alessandria,

A sunset smile over West Hollywood, California, US.

Little Cumulus cloud from East Texas, US, smoking.

A snail, spotted just before sunrise over Anglesey, UK. 

A turtle travelling on the back of a crocodile over the border between France and Spain.

A witch or the grumpy old man in the muppets over Bangkok.

The iconic scene from TV programme The Apprentice, when Lord Sugar says "you're fired", acted out over Bangkok. 


Largest Ice Cave in the World

The Eisriesenwelt (German for "World of the Ice Giants") is a natural limestone ice cave located in Werfen, Austria, about 40 km south of Salzburg. It is the largest ice cave in the world extending more than 42km.

Eisriesenwelt Cave was created by the Salzach river as it flowed through the mountain eroding passageways nearly 100 million years ago. Over the course of thousands of years cracks and crevices in the limestone became more developed as water eroded the rocks away. In winter, when the air inside the mountain is warmer than outside, cold air streams into the mountain and reduces the temperature of the lower areas of the caves to below freezing point. In spring the water from melting snow seeps through the cracks in the rock and when it reaches the colder lower areas of the caves it freezes and turns slowly into the wonderful ice formations visible inside the caves.

Although the cave has a length of 42 km, only the first kilometer, the area that tourists are allowed to visit, is covered in ice. The rest of the cave is formed of limestone. Since the entrance to the caves is open year-round, chilly winter winds blow into the cave and freeze the snow inside. In summer, a cold wind from inside the cave blows toward the entrance and prevents the formations from melting.

Eisriesenwelt was discovered by Anton Posselt, a natural scientist from Salzburg, in 1879. Before his discovery, the cave was known only to locals, who, believing that it was an entrance to Hell, refused to explore it. One year later he published a detailed report of his discovery in a mountaineering magazine, but the caves then slipped back into obscurity.

Alexander von Mörk, a speleologist from Salzburg, was one of the few people who remembered Posselt's discovery. He led several expeditions into the caves beginning in 1912, which were soon followed by other explorers. In 1920, a cabin for the explorers, Forscherhütte, was built and the first routes up the mountain were established. Tourists began to arrive soon after, attracted by the cave's sudden popularity. Later another cabin, the Dr. Oedl House, and paths from Werfen and Tänneck were constructed.

Today the Eisriesenwelt cave is visited by around 200,000 tourists every year.



Amazing Glacier Caves

A glacier cave is a cave formed within the ice of a glacier. Glacier caves are often called ice caves, but this term is properly used to describe bedrock caves that contain year-round ice.

Most glacier caves are started by water running through or under the glacier. This water often originates on the glacier’s surface through melting, entering the ice at a moulin and exiting at the glacier’s snout at base level. Heat transfer from the water can cause sufficient melting to create an air-filled cavity, sometimes aided by solifluction. Air movement can then assist enlargement through melting in summer and sublimation in winter.

One of the many ice caves in Iceland

Some glacier caves are formed by geothermal heat from volcanic vents or hotsprings beneath the ice. An extreme example is the Kverkfjöll glacier cave in the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland, measured in the 1980s at 2.8 kilometers long with a vertical range of 525 meters.

Some glacier caves are relatively unstable due to melting and glacial motion, and are subject to localized or complete collapse, as well as elimination by glacial retreat. An example of the dynamic nature of glacier caves may be seen in the Paradise Ice Caves located on Mt. Rainier in the United States. Known since the early 1900s, the caves were thought to have disappeared altogether in the mid-1940s, yet in 1978 cavers measured 13.25 km of passageways in glacier caves there, and it was considered the longest glacier cave system in the world. The Paradise Ice Caves collapsed and vanished in the 1990s, and the lower lobe of the glacier which once contained the caves also vanished entirely between 2004 and 2006.

Glacier caves may be used by glaciologists to study the interior of glaciers. The study of glacier caves themselves is sometimes called glaciospeleology.

Glacier cave exploring in Kverkfjöll, part of Vatnajökull ice cap, north-east highlands of Iceland

Glacier caving

Paradise Glacier Caves on Mount Rainier

Castner Glacier Cave

Khumbu Glacier in Nepal

Mendenhall Glacier cave

Ngozumpa glacier

Vatnajokull Iceland.

Vatnajokull in southern Iceland.

Crystal Glacier Cave skaftafell iceland

Recently formed ice cave in the glaciers on the south coast of Iceland. Entering this cave is only possible in a freezing period due to the floor is actually a small lagoon.

Fox Glacier on New Zealand. One of hundreds of Ice Caves that form and then melt on the glacier. Larger caves can be crawled or walked through.

Ice cave in Glacier Gray, Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia

Alaska glacier cave


Matanuska glacier cave