The Icicle Atlas
an iconic icicle

The Icicle Atlas

  • What is the Icicle Atlas?

    Icicles are familiar to anyone living in a cold climate. But what determines their shape and growth? Their distinctive forms emerge from the complex interplay between their evolving shape and the flow of air and water over their surfaces. These flows in turn control the release of heat needed to transform water into ice. Impurities in the water also play an important role, especially in the formation of ribs or ripples around the circumference of the icicle.

    The Icicle Atlas is a collection of images, time-lapse movies, 3D printable files and time-series data on 237 distinct laboratory-grown icicles, made at the University of Toronto, Department of Physics, between 2008 and 2012. Each run of the icicle growing machine resulted in an icicle whose growth conditions were measured and controlled. These data were used in several published studies of icicle morphology.

    The data in the Icicle Atlas is freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

  • The icicle data:

    • There are over 230,000 images of icicles in the Atlas and hundreds of time lapse movies and 3D printable files. These are all linked off the homepage of each run of the icicle growing machine. You can access these homepages by following the links below.

    • The Icicle Rogues Gallery, for random access to run homepages, sorted by icicle appearance.
    • The full data table, listing the growing conditions and run homepages, sorted by date.
    • The master spreadsheet with details of all runs in formats: [csv][xlsx].
    • The Icicle Atlas on the borealis dataverse repository.
  • Scientific publications and talks:

    • Experiments on the growth and form of icicles, by Antony Szu-Han Chen, Ph.D. thesis, unpublished, Oct. 2013.
    • On the origin and evolution of icicle ripples, by Antony Szu-Han Chen and Stephen W. Morris, New Journal of Physics, 15, 103012 (2013).
    • Experiments on the morphology of icicles, by Antony Szu-Han Chen and Stephen W. Morris, Physical Review E, 83, 026307 (2011).
    • Experiments on the dynamic wetting of growing icicles, by John Ladan and Stephen W. Morris, New Journal of Physics, 23, 123017 (2021).
    • Pattern of inclusions inside rippled icicles, by John Ladan and Stephen W. Morris, Physical Review E, 106, 054211 (2022).

    • Experiments on the formation of rippled icicles, by John Ladan, Ph.D. thesis, unpublished, Jan. 2023.

    • "Consider the Icicle", an online talk.
    • "The Mysterious Science of Icicles", an online talk.

  • Related links:

  • People and contact information:

    • Antony Szu-Han Chen, Ph. D. (main author).
    • John Ladan, Ph. D.
    • Stephen W, Morris, (professor and supervisor, main contact).

    Other contributors: Stephen Peppin, Jake Wells, Charles Ward, Ken Liao, Alina Barnett, Joshua Calafato, Roger Mong.

© The Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group, Dept. of Physics, The University of Toronto.