Ancient Ice Houses in Iran

Before the invention of the refrigerator, which is a relatively modern invention, ice was a precious commodity that couldn’t be easily obtained or made, especially during the summer. To preserve meat and other food items huge blocks of ice had to imported all the way from Scandinavian countries in the Arctic circle or from mountain tops carefully insulated with straw. In the US, the UK and other countries in Europe, ice was brought in from Norway. The Russians collected ice along the Neva River while the Indians got their share from the Himalayas. The ice were stored in specially made buildings called ice houses and they lasted throughout the year.

The most common designs involved underground chambers, usually man-made, which were built close to natural sources of winter ice such as freshwater lakes. During the winter, ice and snow would be taken into the ice house and packed with insulation, such as straw or sawdust. It would remain frozen for many months, often until the following winter, and could be used as a source of ice during summer months. This could be used simply to cool drinks, or allow ice-cream and sorbet desserts to be prepared.

Ice House in Kashan, Iran.

Ice-houses were known in Iran as early as the seventeenth century B.C., and these were used as recently as 50 years ago. Many disused egg shaped ice houses made from mud bricks still exist in Iran. Iranian ice houses are gigantic in size compared to those found in the west, and they were unique because of the way ice was obtained.

Iran is largely a desert where fresh water is rare and even in winter, when the temperature falls to freezing at night, the mid-day sun is hot. Huge quantities of ice would be needed to fill these vast, domed wells and this cannot be arranged to be transported from far off places. The ingenious Iranians, instead, made their own ice.

Behind each ice houses are long shallow channels where water is poured during the winter nights. The channels were protected from heat during the day by shade walls. At night, a thick layer of ice is formed over the surface. This was broken and collected before the sun could rise and moved to the ice houses. This was repeated each night until there was enough ice to last the next summer. Several shaded walls, deep wells and cleverly constructed domes kept the heat out.

More than a hundred ice house can be found all over Iran, but very few exist in its original form and full extent. Unless a concerted effort is made in terms of restoration and preservation, the prognosis is not good for the majority of Iran’s ice houses. Some of the disused ice-houses has already been used as rubbish dumps.

Ice House in Abarkuh, Iran.

Ice house in Yazd, Iran.

Ice House in Meybod Iran.

Inside the ice house in Meybod.

Ice House in Kashan


Amazing Icebergs

Icebergs are born as gorgeous ancient glaciers rumble, crack and calve, so it stands to reason that the “children” would be equally majestic. Icebergs comes in all shapes and sizes, from “tiny” growlers which are about the size of small cars, to bergy bits which are about the size of a small house, to immense icebergs of all sizes. Although icebergs can be striped and come in various colors that are revealed as the iceberg “rolls” over in the sea, the water from bergs is very pure since the ice formed long ago. NOAA said, “The planet’s greatest stores of freshwater lie far away from the arid, heavily populated regions that need it the most. Nearly 70% of all fresh water is locked in the polar ice caps. Just the new icebergs that form every year around Antarctica hold enough water to meet the needs of every person on Earth for several months. Longstanding proposals to tow icebergs to lower latitudes where their valuable water can be harvested have been met with both skepticism and interest. To date, no successful attempts have been made.” About 90% of icebergs are underwater, but here are 55 photographic reasons why icebergs are so incredibly cool . . . from the safety of your computer chair that is.

Whale fluke near icebergs at Jacobshavn Isfjord, summer in Greenland. When chunks of glaciers break off, or calve, icebergs are born. Icebergs may also break off from ice shelves or a larger icebergs. Sometimes the violent birth of an iceberg can cause a huge wave. Other times, as an iceberg melts, it might flip completely over where the underside is larger than what previously appeared above the sea. This is but one reason boats are warned not to be too close and allow their curiosity to potentially endanger them.

Feeling tiny in Greenland, small boat next to massively and majestic iceberg. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said, “The term ‘iceberg’ refers to chunks of ice larger than 5 meters (16 feet) across. Smaller icebergs, known as bergy bits and growlers, can be especially dangerous for ships because they are harder to spot. The North Atlantic and the cold waters surrounding Antarctica are home to most of the icebergs on Earth.”

Antarctica – Neko Harbour icebergs and glaciers. The word “iceberg” comes from a partial Dutch translation meaning “ice mountain.”

Captured on the way to gorgeous Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The photographer wrote, “The battleship iceberg #4 along the Alsek river. Day #11 of rafting along the Alsek river, Alaska.” NPS explained, “Colors betray a berg’s nature or origin. White bergs hold many trapped air bubbles. Blue bergs are dense and are likely recently calved. Greenish-blackish bergs may have calved off glacier bottoms. Dark-striped brown bergs carry morainal rubble – rocks that the glacier acquired on its journey down the mountain.”

Black striped iceberg in Jökulsárlón. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve service added, “How high a berg floats depends upon its size, the ice’s density, and the water’s density. Bergs may be weighed down or even submerged by rock and rubble. A modest-looking berg may suddenly loom enormous – and endanger small craft – when it rolls over. Boaters and especially kayakers should keep in mind that what one sees is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.”

Stranded iceberg at sunrise on Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba.

Meltwater channel in the Greenland ice sheet. EIS field assistant, Adam LeWinter on NE rim of Birthday Canyon, atop feature called “Moab”. Greenland Ice Sheet, July 2009. Black deposit in bottom of channel is cryoconite. Birthday Canyon is approximately 150 feet deep. According to the Telegraph, Dr. Tad Pfeffer, a glaciologist with the University of Colorado, and photographer James Balog, of the Extreme Ice Survey, have photographs and video to show “That the climate is changing because of global warming is now irrefutable in legitimate scientific circles. You cannot argue with photographic evidence that a glacier in Greenland which had receded eight miles in 100 years has now shrunk a further nine miles in the past 10 years.” As seen below, there is also a documentary called Chasing Ice.

Antartica iceberg below and above. NOAA said, “The planet’s greatest stores of freshwater lie far away from the arid, heavily populated regions that need it the most. Nearly 70% of all fresh water is locked in the polar ice caps. Just the new icebergs that form every year around Antarctica hold enough water to meet the needs of every person on Earth for several months. Longstanding proposals to tow icebergs to lower latitudes where their valuable water can be harvested have been met with both skepticism and interest. To date, no successful attempts have been made. This water also has the advantage of being very pure, since most of the ice formed before the Industrial Revolution.”

Aerial of humpback whale blowing next to iceberg in Greenland.

Sailboat seen through huge iceberg cave.

An iceberg graveyard in Antarctica. It’s been dubbed a graveyard since many icebergs die there.

Iceberg Interior.

Seal on an iceberg at Gerlache strait, Andvord Bay. The Iceberg Finder states, “90% of them are underwater. Find the rest here.”

Jade and striped icebergs. “When seawater at depths of more than 1,200 feet freezes to the underside of massive ice shelves like East Antarctica’s Amery Ice Shelf, it forms ‘marine ice.’ Enormous hunks of ice calve—or break off—from the ice shelf, creating icebergs. When one of these icebergs overturns, its jade underside is revealed. The wondrous color of this ‘marine ice’ results from organic matter dissolved in the seawater at those great depths,” explained Audubon Magazine. “Green icebergs are infrequently seen because their verdant bellies are underwater; it’s only when they flip over, a rare event, that their richly colored regions can be seen before they melt. Striped icebergs, perhaps even more scarce than jade bergs, are thought to form in one of two ways: either meltwater refreezes in crevasses formed atop glaciers before they calve icebergs (creating blue stripes), or seawater freezes inside cracks beneath ice shelves (creating green stripes).”

You know the name that cloud game? What do you see in this massive iceberg? A a tree, mushroom, or just a huge chunk of ice? Icebergs tend to range from about 3.3 to 246 ft above sea level and weigh 100,000 to 200,000 metric tons. The smallest icebergs are about the size of an economy car and are called growlers. Bergy bits are next smallest and can be the size of a small house. After that, icebergs are just called small, medium, large or very large.

This iceberg near Antarctica was tagged with: “This photo was taken on November 6, 2009 in a mysterious place with no name.” Only about 1/9th of the volume of an iceberg is above water.

Iceberg with a resting group of Adelie penguins. The iceberg consists of blue ice, indicating that this is very old ice from deeper parts of the Antarctic ice sheet. Image was taken in the northern part of the Weddell Sea, Southern Ocean, Antarctica during expedition ANT-VIII/3 of the German research vessel POLARSTERN.

Aerial view from helicopter of icebergs at Cape York, Greenland.

Antarctica, icebergs in Gerlache strait. The U.S. National Ice Center has a database of Current Antarctic Iceberg Positions. “The Southern Hemisphere Iceberg database is updated weekly with the latest iceberg information posted by 1200 every Friday. Please note that there are times when no imagery is available in the area of a specific iceberg in a given week and the information cannot be updated. Every iceberg is tracked, and when imagery is available, information is updated and posted.”

“When an iceberg reaches warm waters, the new climate attacks it from all sides. On the iceberg surface, warm air melts snow and ice into pools called melt ponds that can trickle through the iceberg and widen cracks. At the same time, warm water laps at the iceberg edges, melting the ice and causing chunks of ice to break off. On the underside, warmer waters melt the iceberg from the bottom up,” wrote the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “Icebergs can develop into a variety of shapes as they break apart.”

Bald eagle on iceberg. Glacier Bay NPS wrote, “Huge icebergs may last a week or more. They provide perches for bald eagles, cormorants, and gulls, as well as haul-outs for seals. When passing close by, kayakers can hear splashes and crackles as melting water drips and the ice deteriorates. The ice pops and sizzles as it releases ancient air first trapped between the delicate snowflakes and then frozen in under pressure – a phenomenon called ‘bergie seltzer’.”

Uummannaq, North Greenland, houses overlooking icebergs in summer.

Adventuring deeper into the wilds of Patagonia. Perito Moreno glacier as seen from the edge of Lago Argentino. The photographer wrote, “Every few minutes, you could hear giant shards of ice cleave off and drop into the lake below.”

Icebergs and sea ice, looks tranquil and quiet, but bergs are both unpredictable and loud.

Birth of an iceberg. The photographer wrote, “Near the Upsala glacier… El Calafate, Argentina, our boat had just passed this large ice berg, when i heard a loud boom and cracking sound, the series follows… a spectacular moment!”

Architetture glaciali – Glaciar Upsala. The photographer added, “The amazing creativity of nature. The Tempanos in front of the front of the glacier Upsala took incredible shapes and colors … and the size: this was about 15 meters high..”

Boat Trip To Cuverville Island (AKA Iceberg Fiesta).

Photographer showing with one photo, more than a thousand reasons to visit Greenland. Glacier calving in Greenland produces about 12,000 to 15,000 icebergs every year.

Fluke and iceberg. NSIDC monitors iceberg dangers to ships and wrote, “The International Ice Patrol (IIP) tracks, plots and predicts iceberg positions in the North Atlantic Ocean. The IIP area of responsibility is 40 to 52 degrees North, 39 to 57 degrees West. During several years (1977, 1978, 1980, 1983, and 1989) individual icebergs were ‘tagged’ with buoys developed by the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center. The motion of the icebergs bearing the USCG buoys were then tracked via satellite. Observation periods range from one week to two years depending on the buoy.” The IIP was formed in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster

The photographer wrote, “Icebergs in the High Arctic. The image was sent to a glaciologist , Thomas Allen Neumann. It is what he wrote about the coloration of the iceberg: It’s too red to be oxidation (like blood falls in Taylor Valley).The debris loading isn’t particularly extensive (the apparent slip plane is interesting, or perhaps a former water channel), but the color is usual. Red algae would be a good guess. Two colleagues have also seen your photo and suggested the majority of the debris was from, ah, biological activity. Specifically, they suggested the reddish appearance may be due to walrus excrement. That would explain the color, but perhaps not the discoloration along the band through the iceberg.”

The photographer called this “My favorite place on Iceland. Unbelievable quiet, calm & peaceful.”

Left: ZERO wind AutoKAP in Auyuituiq Park, Bafin Island. It’s also handy in spotting icebergs ahead so the voyage isn’t Titanic. Right: Striped columns of an Antarctica iceberg.

“Love floats,” the photographer called this heart-shaped iceberg. “At the least the white, cold and sharp kind does, rather aimlessly. The red, hot and smooth kind sinks directly into your heart. That’s my guess, not that I know much about these things =P.”

Aerial of icebergs in Uummannaq Greenland.

Small boat in ice near immense icebergs in Antarctica.

Icebergs, Ilulissat in Greenland. On average, icebergs that are birthed from the glaciers of western Greenland have an interior temperature of -15 to -20 °C (5 to -4 °F). It would be interesting to see if any brave souls participated in a polar bear plunge here.

Iceberg around Cape York.

Iceberg in Antarctic waters

Incredibly beautiful icebergs and waves in gorgeous Greenland.

Isfjeld in Sydgrønland near the town of Narsaq.

Icebergs in Pleneau Bay Antarctica.

Icebergs near Tasiilaq.

Outback Iceland.

Antarctica iceberg.

Iceberg green and white stripes.

Close to Upsala glacier some icebergs.

The photographer wrote, “While we watched the big animals between 4 icebergs, we saw some other people 30-50 meters from them, on a big ice-float. We quickly jumped up on that ice-float and took pictures while the adrenalin was pumping!”

Icebergs by dog sled, Greenland.

North Greenland. Wikipedia states that “Non-tabular icebergs have different shapes, and include: Dome: An iceberg with a rounded top; Pinnacle: An iceberg with one or more spires; Wedge: An iceberg with a steep edge on one side and a slope on the opposite side; Dry-Dock: An iceberg that has eroded to form a slot or channel; and Blocky: An iceberg with steep, vertical sides and a flat top. It differs from tabular icebergs in that its shape is more like a block than a flat sheet.”

Icebergs Antarctica White Blocks Coast Penguins Fog Lodge.

Icebergs around Cape York, Greenland. The icebergs are beautiful and display many interesting shapes. You could see the iceberg with a hole at the image. The hole was caused by weathering effects – erosion by waves, wind and melting

Calm sea at sunset, Greenland icebergs and boat.

Humpback Whale Sunset