Table of Contents
If your favorite subject is geography, then you will come across a simple question. What is a glacier? The answer to this question is also pretty simple but has a lot of fascinating information if you dig into it.
Let’s start digging.
What is a glacier?
A clear definition of a glacier is a mass of snow compressed into a sheet of ice. These sheets of ice have been compressed for centuries. Some of the glaciers date back to the ice age. The snow in these glaciers keeps moving at a very slow speed. They move downwards due to gravity.
Most of the glaciers are in the polar regions of the earth. They contain highly elevated areas. The snow falls on these areas and adds up to the mass of ice. 91% of the world’s glaciers are in Antarctica.
Where can you find glaciers?
You can find most of the glaciers in Antarctica. Even though they are mostly in polar regions, you can find glaciers on each continent. Africa also has three glaciers. They are in Rwenjori mountain, Mount kilimanjaro, and Mount kenya. Australia is the only continent that doesn’t have glaciers.
You can also find glaciers in regions that have snowfall in winter and low temperatures in summer. This environmental situation allows the snow to compress and form an ice sheet. These glaciers are in Alaska, Patagonia, and the Himalayas.
Types of glaciers
There are mainly two types of glaciers, alpine and ice sheet. Alpine glaciers are formed in the summits and descend the mountain valley. Ice sheets are spread in wide domes in multiple directions. There are some subtypes of glaciers. They are as follows.
Ice sheets extend more than 50,000 square kilometers. They covered most of the northern hemisphere during the Pleistocene ice age. Currently, we have only two ice sheets. They are in Greenland and most of the regions of Antarctica.
These ice sheets contain more than 90% fresh water. Over 68% of all the fresh water in the world is in these ice sheets. They are constantly moving and spreading in wide regions.
These are miniature ice sheets that spread less than 50,000 square kilometers. Ice capes comprise several merged glaciers. They form in higher altitudes. You can easily find them in polar or sub-polar mountain regions. Northern Europe is home to such ice caps.
It is a bowl-shaped glacier that forms on the side of the mountains. These cirque glaciers appear as a result of an avalanche. It is a smaller version of a valley glacier. The depression of the snow happens during summertime which creates glacier ice.
These glaciers exist on the wall of the glacial valley. Hanging glaciers originate from the cliff of the mountain and descent to the glacial valley. They abruptly stop creating a hanging illusion.
Mostly avalanches and ice falls cause these glaciers. They are also extremely dangerous. There are several events where people died in the avalanches of hanging glaciers.
These glaciers have enough snow to flow down and meet the sea. Tidewater glaciers flow down the mountains at more speed than ice sheets. They break off and calve into icebergs. Some of these blocks of ice are more than 200 feet high. They break loose and fall into the water.
Fascinating facts about the glaciers
Glaciers aren’t just frozen ice. They are a whole new ecosystem. Glaciers have so many interesting facts you should know. So, let’s get started.
- Glaciers covered one-third of the world during the ice age.
- An ice sheet has to be over 25 acres to identify as a glacier. It can contain over 19 football fields.
- Glacier ice has over 75% of the world’s freshwater reservoir.
- You can visit these glaciers in 47 countries.
- The glacier of Antarctica is over 40 million years old.
- If the glacier of Antarctica melts entirely, the sea level would rise up to 210 feet worldwide.
- Mount Kilimanjaro has a glacier despite being on an equator.
- A glacier can be 50 feet thin on steep slops.
- A mountain valley originally has a ‘V’ shape. Due to glaciation, it widens, and the shape looks like a big ‘U.’
- Alaska has the most numbers of glaciers which is over 1 lakh.
- Antarctica is the largest glacier in the world. It is 60 miles wide and 270 miles long.
- The formation of a glacier starts with a small, lightweight snowflake.
- They move at the speed of 50 feet per day.
- Unlike the speculations, scientists have confirmed that you can’t find frozen mammoths in glaciers.
- Blue color can penetrate snow and ice. That’s why glaciers have beautiful shades of blue.
- Sometimes, glaciers can form over an active volcano.
- You will often encounter the question ‘what is a glacier’ in your geographical studies.
- A glacier is a giant, icy river that flows very slowly.
- Global warming has an immense effect on glaciers and caused an alarming situation where glaciers are melting.
We hope you find this article interesting. Write to us your comments. Click here to read more such articles.
Liked this blog? Read next: A CGI pirate adventure- Pirates of the Caribbean movie review
Q1. What is the second name for glacier?
Answer: Glaciers are also called ice fields.
Q2. Why are glaciers important?
Answer: Glaciers contribute to the earth’s water cycle and maintain its quality.
Q3. Why are glaciers melting?
Answer: The emission of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide raised the earth’s temperature resulting in the melting of glaciers.