Shortlisted photographs for the 2022 Weather Photographer of the Year contest
The Royal Meteorological Society has announced the shortlisted images for its 2022 Weather Photographer of the Year photo competition. The competition, which is done in partnership with AccuWeather, showcases incredible storms, meteorological events and natural phenomenon, highlighting the work of photographers from around the globe.
Photographers from 119 countries submitted their images, with the judges whittling the submissions down to just 20 images, all of which will fight for the winner and runner-up positions in three categories: ‘Weather Photographer of the Year 2022’, ‘Mobile Phone – Weather Photographer of the Year 2022’ and ‘Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2022.’
From now through September 21, the public has the chance to vote on their favorite of the shortlisted images on The Royal Meteorological Society’s website. On Thursday October 6, the winners and runner-ups will be announced to the public. Below is a breakdown of the prizes for the winning images:
Weather Photographer of the Year 2022
- Title of ‘Weather Photographer of the Year 2022’ £500 cash for the winner, £250 for 2nd place and £100 for 3rd place
- Canon SELPHY CP1300 printer and media pack for the winner
- Weather – A Force of Nature: Spectacular images from Weather Photographer of the Year Smart Photos Jo Bradford (signed copy) for public vote winner (decided from joint shortlist with Mobile Phone opportunity)
Mobile Phone – Weather Photographer of the Year 2022
- Title of ‘Weather Photographer of the Year 2022 – Mobile Phone Category’
- £500 cash for the winner, £250 for the runner-up
- Canon SELPHY CP1300 printer and media pack for the winner
- Smart Photos Jo Bradford (signed copy) for title winner and public vote winner (decided from joint shortlist with the Main opportunity)
Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2022
- Title of ‘Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2022’
- Canon SELPHY CP1300 printer and media pack for the title winner
- Weather – A Force of Nature: Spectacular images from Weather Photographer of the Year for the title winner Smart Photos Jo Bradford (signed copy) for runner-up
- One year’s free subscription to The Week Junior Science+Nature for the title winner
- The Week Junior Science+Nature will feature the winning photo across a double page in the magazine’s October issue.
Check out the following gallery, which includes 12 of the 20 shortlisted images. You can see the remaining images and find out more about The Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year photo competition on its website.
Andrew McCaren – Dam Wet
Photographer: Andrew McCaren
Camera Gear: Canon 1DX with 70–200 2.8L Lens. Exposure: 1/320sec at F4 ISO 500
About this image: Days of heavy rain in the UK led to water cascading down the dam wall of Wet Sleddale reservoir near the village of Shap in Cumbria. Andrew captured this photo as he wanted to illustrate the heavy rain and strong winds brought to the UK by Storm Dennis in February 2020.
“Wet Sleddale more often than not doesn’t overflow, but when it does, it’s an amazing site, and the noise is deafening”.
Storm Dennis impacted the UK on 15–16 February 2020, bringing high rainfall totals and causing flooding in parts of south Wales and England. Strong winds were also associated with the storm, with Aberdaron in northwest Wales recording a wind gust of 91mph.
Storm naming came into force in the UK in 2015 based on criteria combining the weather’s impact and the likelihood of those impacts. Storms impacting the UK are named by the Met Office (UK weather service), the Irish weather service Met Éireann or the Dutch weather service KNMI.
Batel Tibebu – Rain Bubble
Photographer: Batel Tibebu
Camera Gear: Huawei mate 10
About this image: Harsh rain in Addis Ababa flooded the streets, but Betel said that “in that misfortune comes the opportunity for photography”.
Raindrops are usually represented in the shape of a teardrop, but in reality, they resemble a jellybean. When raindrops first form high in the atmosphere, they are a spherical shape. As the drops begin to fall, their shape changes as air resistance cause the bottom edge to flatten and curve, resembling a jellybean.
Rain bubbles form when the raindrop traps gas as it falls on the surface, and there is enough surface tension of the liquid to capture the gas in the form of a bubble.
Brendan Conway – Mock Mirage Sunset over the Estuary
Photographer: Brendan Conway
Camera Gear: Nikon COOLPIX P900
About this image: During a beautiful, calm evening in Tankerton, Kent, Brendan captured this image of people walking along the famous shingle ‘Street’, exposed at low tide, as they were treated to a spectacular mock mirage sunset over the Thames Estuary. He says that “a bonus mirage caused buildings in Southend to appear to levitate”.
“I hope that when people look at the photo, they not only enjoy the aesthetic dimension but will also be prompted to think a bit more deeply about the incredible processes that brought it about. It was a memorable and unexpected sunset. Inadvertently, the photograph captured some unusual phenomena and hopefully provided a thought-provoking catalyst for deeper knowledge about the atmosphere”.
During a mock mirage sunset, the sun is distorted and appears to be sliced horizontally. This can occur when there are one or more shallow layers in the atmosphere with a temperature difference between each layer, known as temperature inversions. The sunlight is refracted more as it travels through colder layers than warmer ones distorting how an object appears to a viewer.
This photograph also captures an inferior mirage where the distant buildings in Southend appear to be elevated above their normal position. An inferior mirage is also an optical phenomenon due to a temperature inversion.
Carlos Castillejo Balsera – Waterspout in Barcelona
Photographer: Carlos Castillejo Balsera
Camera Gear: Canon EOS 6D
About this image: Carlos arrived in the dark, early morning to watch a big storm form over Barcelona. “As dawn was breaking, I could see a large waterspout sliding down in front of the harbour. From time to time, a flash of lightning illuminated the scene”.
A waterspout is a rotating column of air that forms over water or moves from land to water. There are two types of waterspouts, fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. Fair weather waterspouts are not usually associated with thunderstorms.
Less common but more violent tornadic waterspouts, such as this example, form over the water or move from the land to water, with the same characteristics as land tornadoes. They develop from cumulonimbus clouds or thunderstorms. These columns of rotating air extend downwards from the cloud and touch the water surface, often accompanied by strong winds, high seas, large hail and frequent lightning.
Christopher Ison – Storm Eunice
Photographer: Christopher Ison
Camera Gear: Canon EOS R5 and 300mm + x1.4 converter
About this image: After checking the time Storm Eunice would hit as well as the high tides times, Christopher discovered that the storm would hit Newhaven, East Sussex, at almost exactly high tide. When taking his photo, Christopher decided to head to high ground and stand slightly further away from the harbour wall with his back to the weather and was rewarded with a fantastic set of images.
“When the storm was predicted and that it was carrying the first ever red warning for the south coast, I knew I had to find a spot to record it – this was going to be big!”
Storm Eunice was a deep area of low pressure that hit the UK in February 2022. It was particularly disruptive as it underwent explosive cyclogenesis when a low-pressure system rapidly deepens. Low pressure systems can bring heavy rain/snow and strong winds, and the deeper the area of low pressure relative to the surrounding pressure, the stronger the winds will be.
Emili Vilamala Benito – Ghost Under the Cliff
Photographer: Emili Vilamala Benito
Camera Gear: Sony a99 V, Zeis 24–70mm f2,8
About this image: On the cliff of Tavertet in Barcelona, Spain, with the sun low behind and the valley of Sau covered with fog, Emili waited until a Brocken Spectre appeared. “In this geographical area, you can see these phenomena due to morning fog, and when it fades, it is possible to see this spectacular optical phenomenon”.
A Brocken Spectre is a large shadow of an observer cast onto a cloud or mist. So, when a person stands on a hill partially covered in mist or cloud, their shadow can be projected down onto the mist or cloud if the sun is behind them. An optical illusion then makes the shadow appear gigantic and at a considerable distance away from them. The shadow can also fall onto water droplets of varying distances, which distorts the perception and can make the shadow appear to move as the clouds alter and shift. This combines to make the disorienting effect of a giant shadow moving in the distance.
Enric Navarrete Bachs – Dreaming of Lightning
Photographer: Enric Navarrete Bachs
Camera Gear: Sony a7II FE 24–70mm F4 ZA OSS 35mm ISO 400
About this image: On a full moon night, with a storm moving away and one last lightning strike, was what photographer Enric called ‘dream lightning’.
Thunderstorms are common on Earth, and it is estimated that a lightning strike hits somewhere on the Earth’s surface approximately 44 times every second. Thunderstorms are most common in tropical areas where the weather is hot and humid, with places such as Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela receiving the most lightning strikes.
The rapid expansion and heating of air caused by lightning is what produces the accompanying loud clap of thunder. Since light travels faster than sound, you can tell how far a thunderstorm is away by counting the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the sound of the thunder that follows. If you divide this number by five, it will tell you how many miles away the storm is from you (or you can divide by three for the distance in kilometres).
Jamie Russell – Departing Storm over Bembridge Lifeboat Station
Photographer: Jamie Russell
Camera Gear: Nikon D7500, Sigma 10–20 lens. Exposure time 1/200, f10, ISO 400
About this image: After chasing storms and showers west to east across the Isle of Wight to capture some incredible rainbows, Jamie reached Bembridge as the final shower left. “In a panic (he) waded into the waist-deep water, fully dressed, just to compose this scene”.
Rainbows are optical phenomena that occur when sunlight shines through raindrops. The light is refracted as it enters the raindrop, then reflected off the back of the droplet and then refracted again as it exits and travels towards our eyes. This causes the sunlight to split into different colours. The sun needs to be behind the viewer and needs to be low in the sky. The lower the sun in the sky, the more of an arc of a rainbow the viewer will see. Also, the rain, fog, or other source of water droplets, must be in front of the viewer. The angle at which the light is scattered is different for everyone, which means that every rainbow is unique to the observer.
Double rainbows form when sunlight is reflected twice within a raindrop. They are relatively common, especially when the sun is low in the sky, such as in the early morning and late afternoon. The second rainbow is fainter, and more ‘pastel’ in tone and a key feature of a double rainbow is that the colour sequence in the second rainbow is reversed.
Krzysztof Tollas – Frosty Winter Sunrise Over the Gwda River
Photographer: Krzysztof Tollas
About this image: Krzysztof captured a frosty and picturesque sunrise over the Gwda River in Poland.
Hoar frost is the most common type of frost and occurs on clear winter nights when the surface temperature falls below 0ºC, and there is enough moisture in the air for a frost to form. Hoar frost is composed of tiny ice particles formed by the same process as dew, but when the surface temperature is below freezing.
The ‘feathery’ variety of hoar frost initially forms when the surface temperature falls below freezing before dew begins to form. Ice crystals start to form as water vapour suspended in the air freezes on contact with the surface – this process is known as deposition. The ‘white’ frost, composed of more globular ice, forms when dew forms first on a surface and the temperature falls below 0ºC.
There are a few other types of frost, including ground frost, when the ground temperature falls to or below freezing, but the air temperature may remain above freezing. For an air frost to occur, the air temperature must drop to, or below, freezing at the height of at least one metre above the ground.
Luo Xing – Thunder in Chongqing
Photographer: Luo Xing
Camera Gear: Sony a7R II + Nikon 14–24mm F2.8G
About this image: During the early hours of the night, Luo captured this photo of lightning strikes over Chongqing in China.
Lightning is a sudden, electrostatic discharge in the atmosphere in the form of a ‘spark’ or a ‘flash’. Electricity can discharge between clouds, from a cloud to air or from a cloud to the ground. Lightning is associated with thunderstorm clouds, also known as cumulonimbus clouds, and these clouds can typically form in under an hour.
Inside a cumulonimbus cloud, particles of rain, snow or ice move up and down, colliding and causing an imbalance in the electrical charge. Cloud-to-ground lightning, as seen in this image, happens when a channel of negative charge zigzags downward in a ‘forked pattern’. This is usually invisible to the human eye and travels to the ground in a millisecond. As it nears the ground, it attracts a positive charge reaching up from a tall building, tree or telegraph pole. When the two connect, a powerful electrical current travels at about 60,000 miles per second back to the cloud as a very bright, visible flash of lightning.
Rossi Fang – Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Photographer: Rossi Fang
Camera Gear: Sony a7R III
About this image: On the most beautiful mountain in Taiwan, Rossi captured this photo of the warm sun melting the frozen mountain world of the night before. “The crystal clear ice gleams with the sunlight this morning, making the entire alpine world warm”.
Ice is simply water in a solid form, which occurs in the atmosphere and on the Earth’s surface when the temperature falls below 0°C. It can take many forms, such as snow, hoar frost, rime, glaze, hail and ice pellets.
Glaze is a smooth, transparent type of ice that forms when drizzle or rain hits a cold surface and freezes on contact. It can be created when rain or drizzle is at a sub-zero temperature but remains in liquid form, known as supercooled water, meets the ground or when non-supercooled rain or drizzle meets a surface temperature below 0ºC. It can be dangerous to motorists and pedestrians as it is transparent, and the roads and pavements appear wet. It can also be damaging when it gains sufficient thickness as the extra weight can bring down tree branches.
Sara Jazbar – Highway to Paradise
Photographer: Sara Jazbar
Camera Gear: Nikon D500 + Nikon 24–120 F4
About this image: Two or three times each year, Črni Kal, a small town in Slovenia, experiences a temperature inversion which places fog under the highway bridge. When Sara first arrived, there was a wall of fog, and the visibility was reduced to just a couple of metres. However, after waiting a few hours, this beautiful scene appeared. “The fog stopped under the bridge and lingered there, flowing, moving, as if alive”.
Fog is a low cloud that forms at the surface. The relative humidity is above 95%, and visibility is reduced to less than 1,000 metres. Fog is caused by tiny water droplets suspended in the air, and there are a few different types of fog: radiation fog, valley fog, advection fog, hill fog and evaporation fog.
In the troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere where most of our weather happens, the temperature typically decreases with height. However, sometimes a smaller layer can form where the temperature increases with height; this layer is called a temperature inversion. Inversions usually happen in areas of high pressure, where the air descends towards the ground, and as it falls, it dries out and warms up. This warm layer of air can act as a lid and trap the cooler air, low clouds, and fog near the surface.
Shibasish Saha – Waterlily Harvesting
Photographer: Shibasish Saha
Camera Gear: DJI Mavic 2 Pro
About this image: During the monsoon season in the wetlands of West Bengal, Shibasish captured this image of people collecting waterlilies to sell in the local market.
A monsoon is a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing winds of a region, bringing a marked difference in rainfall. Monsoons lead to distinct wet and dry seasons in many parts of the tropics and often occur in and around the Indian Ocean. They are driven by a strong temperature difference between the land and sea, effectively like a large-scale sea breeze.
The Asian monsoon is the most widely known, but monsoon conditions also occur (though to a lesser degree) in other regions, including northern Australia, parts of western, southern and eastern Africa and parts of North and South America.
Tamás Kusza – Solitude
Photographer: Tamás Kusza
Camera Gear: Huawei ELE-L29, P30
About this image: Tamás always waits with great excitement for those dark, menacing clouds to appear, and this photo was taken on one such occasion. When setting up to take some photos, Tamás noticed a sunflower facing in a different direction from all the others and really liked how it appeared. In the background, the sun’s rays are trying to break through the cloud. “It was a wonderful and memorable sight, a moment that I wanted to capture in every one of my other pictures too”.
Most clouds are bright white because the sunlight, or white light, is scattered equally by the water droplets in the cloud, so the sunlight stays white rather than splitting up into the colours of the rainbow. But some clouds can look very dark. This is because the sunlight is scattered upwards or out of the sides of the cloud, and in rain-bearing clouds, the water droplets are bigger and scatter more light, so less sunlight reaches the base of the cloud, and they can look dark and menacing. If you were flying over the top of these clouds, they would look bright white as the sunlight is scattered upwards.
Thomas Chitson – Solar Halo Making an Appearance Over Adelaide Island, Antarctica
Photographer: Thomas Chitson
Camera Gear: Google Pixel 4a
About this image: Whilst out Nordic skiing from the Rothera research station in Antarctica, Thomas captured this beautiful sun halo. “Good weather was rare on the icy continent, but when the sun was shining, solar haloes were a common phenomena during my three months spent researching the weather and climate in Antarctica”.
Haloes around the sun or moon occur when the light is refracted or reflected by ice crystals, normally found in high cirrus or cirrostratus clouds or free-falling ice crystals. Typically, sunlight or moonlight is reflected by ice crystals producing a white halo either around the sun or moon. However, if the light rays strike the ice crystals at a particular angle, then some light may be refracted, giving the halo a faint colouration.
Vince Campbell – Scotch Mist
Photographer: Vince Campbell
Camera Gear: Samsung SM-J530f
About this image: An overnight stop in Tarbet, Loch Lomond in Scotland, and an early morning trek with dogs Oscar and Ollie up Cruach Tairbert revealed this beautiful misty scene to Vince. “The woods, the alps, the loch and Ben Lomond were bathed in ‘Scotch mist’. This shot was taken just before the sun put in an appearance”.
Mist, like fog, is a low cloud or small water droplets suspended in the air, close to the ground. The relative humidity in mist and fog is more than 95%, but the difference between the two phenomena is all down to visibility. If you can see more than 1,000 metres, it is called mist, but if it is thicker and the visibility drops below 1,000 metres, it is called fog.
Mist is typically dissipated quicker than fog and can rapidly disappear with even a light wind.
Zhenhuan Zhou – Frozen
Photographer: Zhenhuan Zhou
Camera Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
About this image: Zhenhuan captured this photo showing parts of Niagara Falls covered in ice.
During spells of cold weather, the mist and spray from Niagara Falls can freeze into ice over the top of the rushing water of the waterfall, giving the appearance that the Falls have frozen whilst the water continues to flow underneath the sheets of ice.
However, there are records that the Falls’ waters did stop once in March 1848. Strong winds pushed ice from Lake Erie into the mouth of the Niagara River, blocking the channel completely and stopping the water for about 30 hours. The wind then shifted, and the built-up weight of the water broke through the ice, forcing the Niagara River to flow again.
The photograph offers intricate detail of the icicles that have formed around the building and on the rock face. Icicles are hanging tapering pieces of ice that form when the temperature is below freezing. As water drips off the roof or rock, it freezes and becomes suspended in the shape of a droplet. As more water droplets flow over the surface, they freeze on the way down, and so the process continues until an icicle is formed.
Zhenhuan Zhou – Peaceful
Photographer: Zhenhuan Zhou
Camera Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
About this image: In early February 2022, southern Ontario was hit by the worst snowfall in decades. Zhenhuan captured this photo of a horse farm, which was turned into a winter wonderland by the snowstorm. “It looks so peaceful”.
Snow forms when tiny ice crystals in clouds stick together to become snowflakes. If enough crystals stick together, they will become heavy enough to fall to the ground. Snowflakes that fall through moist air slightly warmer than 0ºC will melt around the edges and stick together to produce big flakes. This creates ‘wet’ snow, which is good for making snowmen and snowballs. Whereas snowflakes that fall through dry, cold air produce powdery snow that does not stick together. This creates ‘dry’ snow, which is ideal for snow sports but is more likely to drift when it is windy.
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