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This article is about the geological formation. For other uses, see Glacier (disambiguation).
"Ice river" redirects here. For the Chinese ski course, see Ice River (ski course).

A glacier (US: ;UK: ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. Glaciers slowly deform and flow under stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques, moraines, or fjords. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that forms on the surface of bodies of water.

The glacier of the Geikie Plateau in Greenland.
With 7,253 known glaciers, Pakistan contains more glacial ice than any other country on earth outside the polar regions. At 62 kilometres (39 mi) in length, its Baltoro Glacier is one of the world's longest alpine glaciers.
Aerial view of a glacier in Chugach State Park, Alaska, United States

On Earth, 99% of glacial ice is contained within vast ice sheets (also known as "continental glaciers") in the polar regions, but glaciers may be found in mountain ranges on every continent other than the Australian mainland, including Oceania's high-latitude oceanic island countries such as New Zealand. Between latitudes 35°N and 35°S, glaciers occur only in the Himalayas, Andes, and a few high mountains in East Africa, Mexico, New Guinea and on Zard Kuh in Iran. With more than 7,000 known glaciers, Pakistan has more glacial ice than any other country outside the polar regions. Glaciers cover about 10% of Earth's land surface. Continental glaciers cover nearly 13 million km2 (5 million sq mi) or about 98% of Antarctica's 13.2 million km2 (5.1 million sq mi), with an average thickness of 2,100 m (7,000 ft). Greenland and Patagonia also have huge expanses of continental glaciers. The volume of glaciers, not including the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, has been estimated at 170,000 km3.

Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth, holding with ice sheets about 69 percent of the world's freshwater. Many glaciers from temperate, alpine and seasonal polar climates store water as ice during the colder seasons and release it later in the form of meltwater as warmer summer temperatures cause the glacier to melt, creating a water source that is especially important for plants, animals and human uses when other sources may be scant. However, within high-altitude and Antarctic environments, the seasonal temperature difference is often not sufficient to release meltwater.

Since glacial mass is affected by long-term climatic changes, e.g., precipitation, mean temperature, and cloud cover, glacial mass changes are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change and are a major source of variations in sea level.

A large piece of compressed ice, or a glacier, appears blue, as large quantities of water appear blue. This is because water molecules absorb other colors more efficiently than blue. The other reason for the blue color of glaciers is the lack of air bubbles. Air bubbles, which give a white color to ice, are squeezed out by pressure increasing the created ice's density.

Contents

The word glacier is a loanword from French and goes back, via Franco-Provençal, to the Vulgar Latin glaciārium, derived from the Late Latin glacia, and ultimately Latin glaciēs, meaning "ice". The processes and features caused by or related to glaciers are referred to as glacial. The process of glacier establishment, growth and flow is called glaciation. The corresponding area of study is called glaciology. Glaciers are important components of the global cryosphere.

Classification by size, shape and behavior

Further information: Glacier morphology

Glaciers are categorized by their morphology, thermal characteristics, and behavior. Alpine glaciers form on the crests and slopes of mountains. A glacier that fills a valley is called a valley glacier, or alternatively, an alpine glacier or mountain glacier. A large body of glacial ice astride a mountain, mountain range, or volcano is termed an ice cap or ice field. Ice caps have an area less than 50,000 km2 (19,000 sq mi) by definition.

Glacial bodies larger than 50,000 km2 (19,000 sq mi) are called ice sheets or continental glaciers. Several kilometers deep, they obscure the underlying topography. Only nunataks protrude from their surfaces. The only extant ice sheets are the two that cover most of Antarctica and Greenland. They contain vast quantities of freshwater, enough that if both melted, global sea levels would rise by over 70 m (230 ft). Portions of an ice sheet or cap that extend into water are called ice shelves; they tend to be thin with limited slopes and reduced velocities. Narrow, fast-moving sections of an ice sheet are called ice streams. In Antarctica, many ice streams drain into large ice shelves. Some drain directly into the sea, often with an ice tongue, like Mertz Glacier.

Tidewater glaciers are glaciers that terminate in the sea, including most glaciers flowing from Greenland, Antarctica, Baffin, Devon, and Ellesmere Islands in Canada, Southeast Alaska, and the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice Fields. As the ice reaches the sea, pieces break off or calve, forming icebergs. Most tidewater glaciers calve above sea level, which often results in a tremendous impact as the iceberg strikes the water. Tidewater glaciers undergo centuries-long cycles of advance and retreat that are much less affected by climate change than other glaciers.

Classification by thermal state

Webber Glacier on Grant Land (northern Ellesmere Island) is an advancing polar glacier and frozen to the glacier bed. Debris rich layers of the ground moraine are sheared and folded into the ice. The steep icefront shows waterfalls. The glacier front is 6 km broad and up to 40 m high (July 20, 1978)

Thermally, a temperate glacier is at a melting point throughout the year, from its surface to its base. The ice of a polar glacier is always below the freezing threshold from the surface to its base, although the surface snowpack may experience seasonal melting. A subpolar glacier includes both temperate and polar ice, depending on the depth beneath the surface and position along the length of the glacier. In a similar way, the thermal regime of a glacier is often described by its basal temperature. A cold-based glacier is below freezing at the ice-ground interface and is thus frozen to the underlying substrate. A warm-based glacier is above or at freezing at the interface and is able to slide at this contact. This contrast is thought to a large extent to govern the ability of a glacier to effectively erode its bed, as sliding ice promotes plucking at rock from the surface below. Glaciers which are partly cold-based and partly warm-based are known as polythermal.

Glaciers form where the accumulation of snow and ice exceeds ablation. A glacier usually originates from a cirque landform (alternatively known as a "corrie" or as a "cwm") – a typically armchair-shaped geological feature (such as a depression between mountains enclosed by arêtes) – which collects and compresses through gravity the snow that falls into it. This snow accumulates and the weight of the snow falling above compacts it, forming névé (granular snow). Further crushing of the individual snowflakes and squeezing the air from the snow turns it into "glacial ice". This glacial ice will fill the cirque until it "overflows" through a geological weakness or vacancy, such as a gap between two mountains. When the mass of snow and ice reaches sufficient thickness, it begins to move by a combination of surface slope, gravity, and pressure. On steeper slopes, this can occur with as little as 15 m (50 ft) of snow-ice.

In temperate glaciers, snow repeatedly freezes and thaws, changing into granular ice called firn. Under the pressure of the layers of ice and snow above it, this granular ice fuses into denser firn. Over a period of years, layers of firn undergo further compaction and become glacial ice. Glacier ice is slightly more dense than ice formed from frozen water because glacier ice contains fewer trapped air bubbles.

Glacial ice has a distinctive blue tint because it absorbs some red light due to an overtone of the infrared OH stretching mode of the water molecule. (Liquid water appears blue for the same reason. The blue of glacier ice is sometimes misattributed to Rayleigh scattering of bubbles in the ice.)

A glacier originates at a location called its glacier head and terminates at its glacier foot, snout, or terminus.

Glaciers are broken into zones based on surface snowpack and melt conditions. The ablation zone is the region where there is a net loss in glacier mass. The upper part of a glacier, where accumulation exceeds ablation, is called the accumulation zone. The equilibrium line separates the ablation zone and the accumulation zone; it is the contour where the amount of new snow gained by accumulation is equal to the amount of ice lost through ablation. In general, the accumulation zone accounts for 60–70% of the glacier's surface area, more if the glacier calves icebergs. Ice in the accumulation zone is deep enough to exert a downward force that erodes underlying rock. After a glacier melts, it often leaves behind a bowl- or amphitheater-shaped depression that ranges in size from large basins like the Great Lakes to smaller mountain depressions known as cirques.

The accumulation zone can be subdivided based on its melt conditions.

  1. The dry snow zone is a region where no melt occurs, even in the summer, and the snowpack remains dry.
  2. The percolation zone is an area with some surface melt, causing meltwater to percolate into the snowpack. This zone is often marked by refrozen ice lenses, glands, and layers. The snowpack also never reaches the melting point.
  3. Near the equilibrium line on some glaciers, a superimposed ice zone develops. This zone is where meltwater refreezes as a cold layer in the glacier, forming a continuous mass of ice.
  4. The wet snow zone is the region where all of the snow deposited since the end of the previous summer has been raised to 0 °C.

The health of a glacier is usually assessed by determining the glacier mass balance or observing terminus behavior. Healthy glaciers have large accumulation zones, more than 60% of their area is snow-covered at the end of the melt season, and they have a terminus with a vigorous flow.

Following the Little Ice Age's end around 1850, glaciers around the Earth have retreated substantially. A slight cooling led to the advance of many alpine glaciers between 1950 and 1985, but since 1985 glacier retreat and mass loss has become larger and increasingly ubiquitous.

Main article: Ice-sheet dynamics
Shear or herring-bone crevasses on Emmons Glacier (Mount Rainier); such crevasses often form near the edge of a glacier where interactions with underlying or marginal rock impede flow. In this case, the impediment appears to be some distance from the near margin of the glacier.

Glaciers move, or flow, downhill by the force of gravity and the internal deformation of ice. Ice behaves like a brittle solid until its thickness exceeds about 50 m (160 ft). The pressure on ice deeper than 50 m causes plastic flow. At the molecular level, ice consists of stacked layers of molecules with relatively weak bonds between layers. When the stress on the layer above exceeds the inter-layer binding strength, it moves faster than the layer below.

Glaciers also move through basal sliding. In this process, a glacier slides over the terrain on which it sits, lubricated by the presence of liquid water. The water is created from ice that melts under high pressure from frictional heating. Basal sliding is dominant in temperate or warm-based glaciers.

Although evidence in favor of glacial flow was known by the early 19th century, other theories of glacial motion were advanced, such as the idea that meltwater, refreezing inside glaciers, caused the glacier to dilate and extend its length. As it became clear that glaciers behaved to some degree as if the ice were a viscous fluid, it was argued that "regelation", or the melting and refreezing of ice at a temperature lowered by the pressure on the ice inside the glacier, was what allowed the ice to deform and flow. James Forbes came up with the essentially correct explanation in the 1840s, although it was several decades before it was fully accepted.

Fracture zone and cracks

The top 50 m (160 ft) of a glacier are rigid because they are under low pressure. This upper section is known as the fracture zone and moves mostly as a single unit over the plastic-flowing lower section. When a glacier moves through irregular terrain, cracks called crevasses develop in the fracture zone. Crevasses form because of differences in glacier velocity. If two rigid sections of a glacier move at different speeds or directions, shear forces cause them to break apart, opening a crevasse. Crevasses are seldom more than 46 m (150 ft) deep but, in some cases, can be at least 300 m (1,000 ft) deep. Beneath this point, the plasticity of the ice prevents the formation of cracks. Intersecting crevasses can create isolated peaks in the ice, called seracs.

Crevasses can form in several different ways. Transverse crevasses are transverse to flow and form where steeper slopes cause a glacier to accelerate. Longitudinal crevasses form semi-parallel to flow where a glacier expands laterally. Marginal crevasses form near the edge of the glacier, caused by the reduction in speed caused by friction of the valley walls. Marginal crevasses are largely transverse to flow. Moving glacier ice can sometimes separate from the stagnant ice above, forming a bergschrund. Bergschrunds resemble crevasses but are singular features at a glacier's margins. Crevasses make travel over glaciers hazardous, especially when they are hidden by fragile snow bridges.

Below the equilibrium line, glacial meltwater is concentrated in stream channels. Meltwater can pool in proglacial lakes on top of a glacier or descend into the depths of a glacier via moulins. Streams within or beneath a glacier flow in englacial or sub-glacial tunnels. These tunnels sometimes reemerge at the glacier's surface.

Speed

The speed of glacial displacement is partly determined by friction. Friction makes the ice at the bottom of the glacier move more slowly than ice at the top. In alpine glaciers, friction is also generated at the valley's sidewalls, which slows the edges relative to the center.

Mean glacial speed varies greatly but is typically around 1 m (3 ft) per day. There may be no motion in stagnant areas; for example, in parts of Alaska, trees can establish themselves on surface sediment deposits. In other cases, glaciers can move as fast as 20–30 m (70–100 ft) per day, such as in Greenland's Jakobshavn Isbræ. Glacial speed is affected by factors such as slope, ice thickness, snowfall, longitudinal confinement, basal temperature, meltwater production, and bed hardness.

A few glaciers have periods of very rapid advancement called surges. These glaciers exhibit normal movement until suddenly they accelerate, then return to their previous movement state. These surges may be caused by the failure of the underlying bedrock, the pooling of meltwater at the base of the glacier — perhaps delivered from a supraglacial lake — or the simple accumulation of mass beyond a critical "tipping point". Temporary rates up to 90 m (300 ft) per day have occurred when increased temperature or overlying pressure caused bottom ice to melt and water to accumulate beneath a glacier.

In glaciated areas where the glacier moves faster than one km per year, glacial earthquakes occur. These are large scale earthquakes that have seismic magnitudes as high as 6.1. The number of glacial earthquakes in Greenland peaks every year in July, August, and September and increased rapidly in the 1990s and 2000s. In a study using data from January 1993 through October 2005, more events were detected every year since 2002, and twice as many events were recorded in 2005 as there were in any other year.

Ogives

Forbes bands on the Mer de Glace glacier in France

Ogives (or Forbes bands) are alternating wave crests and valleys that appear as dark and light bands of ice on glacier surfaces. They are linked to seasonal motion of glaciers; the width of one dark and one light band generally equals the annual movement of the glacier. Ogives are formed when ice from an icefall is severely broken up, increasing ablation surface area during summer. This creates a swale and space for snow accumulation in the winter, which in turn creates a ridge. Sometimes ogives consist only of undulations or color bands and are described as wave ogives or band ogives.

Further information on this topic: List of glaciers
Black ice glacier near Aconcagua, Argentina
Fox Glacier in New Zealand finishes near a rainforest.

Glaciers are present on every continent and in approximately fifty countries, excluding those (Australia, South Africa) that have glaciers only on distant subantarctic island territories. Extensive glaciers are found in Antarctica, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Iceland. Mountain glaciers are widespread, especially in the Andes, the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains, the Caucasus, Scandinavian mountains, and the Alps. Snezhnika glacier in Pirin Mountain, Bulgaria with a latitude of 41°46′09″ N is the southernmost glacial mass in Europe. Mainland Australia currently contains no glaciers, although a small glacier on Mount Kosciuszko was present in the last glacial period. In New Guinea, small, rapidly diminishing, glaciers are located on Puncak Jaya. Africa has glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, on Mount Kenya, and in the Rwenzori Mountains. Oceanic islands with glaciers include Iceland, several of the islands off the coast of Norway including Svalbard and Jan Mayen to the far north, New Zealand and the subantarctic islands of Marion, Heard, Grande Terre (Kerguelen) and Bouvet. During glacial periods of the Quaternary, Taiwan, Hawaii on Mauna Kea and Tenerife also had large alpine glaciers, while the Faroe and Crozet Islands were completely glaciated.

The permanent snow cover necessary for glacier formation is affected by factors such as the degree of slope on the land, amount of snowfall and the winds. Glaciers can be found in all latitudes except from 20° to 27° north and south of the equator where the presence of the descending limb of the Hadley circulation lowers precipitation so much that with high insolation snow lines reach above 6,500 m (21,330 ft). Between 19˚N and 19˚S, however, precipitation is higher, and the mountains above 5,000 m (16,400 ft) usually have permanent snow.

Even at high latitudes, glacier formation is not inevitable. Areas of the Arctic, such as Banks Island, and the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica are considered polar deserts where glaciers cannot form because they receive little snowfall despite the bitter cold. Cold air, unlike warm air, is unable to transport much water vapor. Even during glacial periods of the Quaternary, Manchuria, lowland Siberia, and central and northern Alaska, though extraordinarily cold, had such light snowfall that glaciers could not form.

In addition to the dry, unglaciated polar regions, some mountains and volcanoes in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina are high (4,500 to 6,900 m or 14,800 to 22,600 ft) and cold, but the relative lack of precipitation prevents snow from accumulating into glaciers. This is because these peaks are located near or in the hyperarid Atacama Desert.

Diagram of glacial plucking and abrasion
Glacially plucked granitic bedrock near Mariehamn, Åland

Glaciers erode terrain through two principal processes: abrasion and plucking.

As glaciers flow over bedrock, they soften and lift blocks of rock into the ice. This process, called plucking, is caused by subglacial water that penetrates fractures in the bedrock and subsequently freezes and expands. This expansion causes the ice to act as a lever that loosens the rock by lifting it. Thus, sediments of all sizes become part of the glacier's load. If a retreating glacier gains enough debris, it may become a rock glacier, like the Timpanogos Glacier in Utah.

Abrasion occurs when the ice and its load of rock fragments slide over bedrock and function as sandpaper, smoothing and polishing the bedrock below. The pulverized rock this process produces is called rock flour and is made up of rock grains between 0.002 and 0.00625 mm in size. Abrasion leads to steeper valley walls and mountain slopes in alpine settings, which can cause avalanches and rock slides, which add even more material to the glacier. Glacial abrasion is commonly characterized by glacial striations. Glaciers produce these when they contain large boulders that carve long scratches in the bedrock. By mapping the direction of the striations, researchers can determine the direction of the glacier's movement. Similar to striations are chatter marks, lines of crescent-shape depressions in the rock underlying a glacier. They are formed by abrasion when boulders in the glacier are repeatedly caught and released as they are dragged along the bedrock.

The rate of glacier erosion varies. Six factors control erosion rate:

  • Velocity of glacial movement
  • Thickness of the ice
  • Shape, abundance and hardness of rock fragments contained in the ice at the bottom of the glacier
  • Relative ease of erosion of the surface under the glacier
  • Thermal conditions at the glacier base
  • Permeability and water pressure at the glacier base

When the bedrock has frequent fractures on the surface, glacial erosion rates tend to increase as plucking is the main erosive force on the surface; when the bedrock has wide gaps between sporadic fractures, however, abrasion tends to be the dominant erosive form and glacial erosion rates become slow. Glaciers in lower latitudes tend to be much more erosive than glaciers in higher latitudes, because they have more meltwater reaching the glacial base and facilitate sediment production and transport under the same moving speed and amount of ice.

Material that becomes incorporated in a glacier is typically carried as far as the zone of ablation before being deposited. Glacial deposits are of two distinct types:

  • Glacial till: material directly deposited from glacial ice. Till includes a mixture of undifferentiated material ranging from clay size to boulders, the usual composition of a moraine.
  • Fluvial and outwash sediments: sediments deposited by water. These deposits are stratified by size.

Larger pieces of rock that are encrusted in till or deposited on the surface are called "glacial erratics". They range in size from pebbles to boulders, but as they are often moved great distances, they may be drastically different from the material upon which they are found. Patterns of glacial erratics hint at past glacial motions.

Moraines

Glacial moraines above Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Glacial moraines are formed by the deposition of material from a glacier and are exposed after the glacier has retreated. They usually appear as linear mounds of till, a non-sorted mixture of rock, gravel, and boulders within a matrix of fine powdery material. Terminal or end moraines are formed at the foot or terminal end of a glacier. Lateral moraines are formed on the sides of the glacier. Medial moraines are formed when two different glaciers merge and the lateral moraines of each coalesce to form a moraine in the middle of the combined glacier. Less apparent are ground moraines, also called glacial drift, which often blankets the surface underneath the glacier downslope from the equilibrium line. The term moraine is of French origin. It was coined by peasants to describe alluvial embankments and rims found near the margins of glaciers in the French Alps. In modern geology, the term is used more broadly and is applied to a series of formations, all of which are composed of till. Moraines can also create moraine-dammed lakes.

Drumlins

A drumlin field forms after a glacier has modified the landscape. The teardrop-shaped formations denote the direction of the ice flow.

Drumlins are asymmetrical, canoe-shaped hills made mainly of till. Their heights vary from 15 to 50 meters, and they can reach a kilometer in length. The steepest side of the hill faces the direction from which the ice advanced (stoss), while a longer slope is left in the ice's direction of movement (lee). Drumlins are found in groups called drumlin fields or drumlin camps. One of these fields is found east of Rochester, New York; it is estimated to contain about 10,000 drumlins. Although the process that forms drumlins is not fully understood, their shape implies that they are products of the plastic deformation zone of ancient glaciers. It is believed that many drumlins were formed when glaciers advanced over and altered the deposits of earlier glaciers.

Glacial valleys, cirques, arêtes, and pyramidal peaks

Features of a glacial landscape

Before glaciation, mountain valleys have a characteristic "V" shape, produced by eroding water. During glaciation, these valleys are often widened, deepened and smoothed to form a "U"-shaped glacial valley or glacial trough, as it is sometimes called. The erosion that creates glacial valleys truncates any spurs of rock or earth that may have earlier extended across the valley, creating broadly triangular-shaped cliffs called truncated spurs. Within glacial valleys, depressions created by plucking and abrasion can be filled by lakes, called paternoster lakes. If a glacial valley runs into a large body of water, it forms a fjord.

Typically glaciers deepen their valleys more than their smaller tributaries. Therefore, when glaciers recede, the valleys of the tributary glaciers remain above the main glacier's depression and are called hanging valleys.

At the start of a classic valley glacier is a bowl-shaped cirque, which has escarped walls on three sides but is open on the side that descends into the valley. Cirques are where ice begins to accumulate in a glacier. Two glacial cirques may form back to back and erode their backwalls until only a narrow ridge, called an arête is left. This structure may result in a mountain pass. If multiple cirques encircle a single mountain, they create pointed pyramidal peaks; particularly steep examples are called horns.

Roches moutonnées

Passage of glacial ice over an area of bedrock may cause the rock to be sculpted into a knoll called a roche moutonnée, or "sheepback" rock. Roches moutonnées may be elongated, rounded and asymmetrical in shape. They range in length from less than a meter to several hundred meters long. Roches moutonnées have a gentle slope on their up-glacier sides and a steep to vertical face on their down-glacier sides. The glacier abrades the smooth slope on the upstream side as it flows along, but tears rock fragments loose and carries them away from the downstream side via plucking.

Alluvial stratification

As the water that rises from the ablation zone moves away from the glacier, it carries fine eroded sediments with it. As the speed of the water decreases, so does its capacity to carry objects in suspension. The water thus gradually deposits the sediment as it runs, creating an alluvial plain. When this phenomenon occurs in a valley, it is called a valley train. When the deposition is in an estuary, the sediments are known as bay mud. Outwash plains and valley trains are usually accompanied by basins known as "kettles". These are small lakes formed when large ice blocks that are trapped in alluvium melt and produce water-filled depressions. Kettle diameters range from 5 m to 13 km, with depths of up to 45 meters. Most are circular in shape because the blocks of ice that formed them were rounded as they melted.

Glacial deposits

Landscape produced by a receding glacier

When a glacier's size shrinks below a critical point, its flow stops and it becomes stationary. Meanwhile, meltwater within and beneath the ice leaves stratified alluvial deposits. These deposits, in the forms of columns, terraces and clusters, remain after the glacier melts and are known as "glacial deposits". Glacial deposits that take the shape of hills or mounds are called kames. Some kames form when meltwater deposits sediments through openings in the interior of the ice. Others are produced by fans or deltas created by meltwater. When the glacial ice occupies a valley, it can form terraces or kames along the sides of the valley. Long, sinuous glacial deposits are called eskers. Eskers are composed of sand and gravel that was deposited by meltwater streams that flowed through ice tunnels within or beneath a glacier. They remain after the ice melts, with heights exceeding 100 meters and lengths of as long as 100 km.

Loess deposits

Very fine glacial sediments or rock flour is often picked up by wind blowing over the bare surface and may be deposited great distances from the original fluvial deposition site. These eolian loess deposits may be very deep, even hundreds of meters, as in areas of China and the Midwestern United States. Katabatic winds can be important in this process.

Further information: Retreat of glaciers since 1850

Glaciers are a valuable resource for tracking climate change over long periods of time because they can be hundreds of thousands of years old. To study the patterns over time through glaciers, ice cores are taken, providing continuous information including evidence for climate change, trapped in the ice for scientists to break down and study. Glaciers are studied to give information about the history of climate change due to natural or human causes. Human activity has caused an increase in greenhouse gases creating a global warming trend, causing these valuable glaciers to melt. Glaciers have an albedo effect and the melting of glaciers means less albedo. In the Alps the summer of 2003 was compared to the summer of 1988. Between 1998 and 2003 the albedo value is 0.2 lower in 2003. When glaciers begin to melt, they also cause a rise in sea level, "which in turn increases coastal erosion and elevates storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons." Thus, human causes to climate change creates a positive feedback loop with the glaciers: The rise in temperature causes more glacier melt, leading to less albedo, higher sea levels and many other climate issues to follow. From 1972 all the way up to 2019 NASA has used a Landsat satellite that has been used to record glaciers in Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica. This Landsat project has found that since around 2000, glacier retreat has increased substantially.

South Cascade Glacier in Washington documented from 1928 to 2003 showing the recent rapid glacier retreating. By looking at this photo it's clear to see how quickly the glaciers are retreating in the modern world. This kind of retreating is the result of climate change which has significantly increased due to human impacts. This photo was taken from USGS U.S. Department of Interior research looking at the last 50 years of glacier change.
Isostatic pressure by a glacier on the Earth's crust

Large masses, such as ice sheets or glaciers, can depress the crust of the Earth into the mantle. The depression usually totals a third of the ice sheet or glacier's thickness. After the ice sheet or glacier melts, the mantle begins to flow back to its original position, pushing the crust back up. This post-glacial rebound, which proceeds very slowly after the melting of the ice sheet or glacier, is currently occurring in measurable amounts in Scandinavia and the Great Lakes region of North America.

A geomorphological feature created by the same process on a smaller scale is known as dilation-faulting. It occurs where previously compressed rock is allowed to return to its original shape more rapidly than can be maintained without faulting. This leads to an effect similar to what would be seen if the rock were hit by a large hammer. Dilation faulting can be observed in recently de-glaciated parts of Iceland and Cumbria.

Main article: Glaciers on Mars
Northern polar ice cap on Mars.

The polar ice caps of Mars show geologic evidence of glacial deposits. The south polar cap is especially comparable to glaciers on Earth. Topographical features and computer models indicate the existence of more glaciers in Mars' past. At mid-latitudes, between 35° and 65° north or south, Martian glaciers are affected by the thin Martian atmosphere. Because of the low atmospheric pressure, ablation near the surface is solely caused by sublimation, not melting. As on Earth, many glaciers are covered with a layer of rocks which insulates the ice. A radar instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found ice under a thin layer of rocks in formations called lobate debris aprons (LDAs).

The pictures below illustrate how landscape features on Mars closely resemble those on the Earth.

  • Romer Lake's Elephant Foot Glacier in the Earth's Arctic, as seen by Landsat 8. This picture shows several glaciers that have the same shape as many features on Mars that are believed to also be glaciers. The next three images from Mars show shapes similar to the Elephant Foot Glacier.

  • Mesa in Ismenius Lacus quadrangle, as seen by CTX. Mesa has several glaciers eroding it. One of the glaciers is seen in greater detail in the next two images from HiRISE. Image from Ismenius Lacus quadrangle.

  • Glacier as seen by HiRISE under the HiWish program. Area in the rectangle is enlarged in the next photo. Zone of accumulation of snow at the top. Glacier is moving down valley, then spreading out on plain. Evidence for flow comes from the many lines on surface. Location is in Protonilus Mensae in Ismenius Lacus quadrangle.

  • Enlargement of area in rectangle of the previous image. On Earth, the ridge would be called the terminal moraine of an alpine glacier. Picture taken with HiRISE under the HiWish program. Image from Ismenius Lacus quadrangle.

See source Wikidata query. location of glaciers according to GLIMS ID, identifier assigned to glaciers by the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space service at NSIDC.

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  • This article draws heavily on the corresponding article in the Spanish-language Wikipedia, which was accessed in the version of 24 July 2005.
  • Hambrey, Michael; Alean, Jürg (2004).Glaciers (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82808-6. OCLC 54371738. An excellent less-technical treatment of all aspects, with superb photographs and firsthand accounts of glaciologists' experiences. All images of this book can be found online (see Weblinks: Glaciers-online)
  • Benn, Douglas I.; Evans, David J.A. (1999). Glaciers and Glaciation. Arnold. ISBN 978-0-470-23651-2. OCLC 38329570.
  • Bennett, M.R.; Glasser, N.F. (1996). Glacial Geology: Ice Sheets and Landforms. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-96344-8. OCLC 33359888.
  • Hambrey, Michael (1994). Glacial Environments. University of British Columbia Press, UCL Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-0510-0. OCLC 30512475. An undergraduate-level textbook.
  • Knight, Peter G (1999).Glaciers. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. ISBN 978-0-7487-4000-0. OCLC 42656957. A textbook for undergraduates avoiding mathematical complexities
  • Walley, Robert (1992). Introduction to Physical Geography. Wm. C. Brown Publishers. A textbook devoted to explaining the geography of our planet.
  • W.S.B. Paterson (1994). Physics of Glaciers (3rd ed.). Pergamon Press. ISBN 978-0-08-013972-2. OCLC 26188. A comprehensive reference on the physical principles underlying formation and behavior.
The Wikibook Historical Geology has a page on the topic of: Glaciers
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Look up glacier in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Glacier Article Talk Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Temperate glacier This article is about the geological formation For other uses see Glacier disambiguation Ice river redirects here For the Chinese ski course see Ice River ski course A glacier US ˈ ɡ l eɪ ʃ er UK ˈ ɡ l ae s i er ˈ ɡ l eɪ s i er is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years often centuries Glaciers slowly deform and flow under stresses induced by their weight creating crevasses seracs and other distinguishing features They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques moraines or fjords Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that forms on the surface of bodies of water The glacier of the Geikie Plateau in Greenland With 7 253 known glaciers Pakistan contains more glacial ice than any other country on earth outside the polar regions 1 At 62 kilometres 39 mi in length its Baltoro Glacier is one of the world s longest alpine glaciers Aerial view of a glacier in Chugach State Park Alaska United States On Earth 99 of glacial ice is contained within vast ice sheets also known as continental glaciers in the polar regions but glaciers may be found in mountain ranges on every continent other than the Australian mainland including Oceania s high latitude oceanic island countries such as New Zealand Between latitudes 35 N and 35 S glaciers occur only in the Himalayas Andes and a few high mountains in East Africa Mexico New Guinea and on Zard Kuh in Iran 2 With more than 7 000 known glaciers Pakistan has more glacial ice than any other country outside the polar regions 3 1 Glaciers cover about 10 of Earth s land surface Continental glaciers cover nearly 13 million km2 5 million sq mi or about 98 of Antarctica s 13 2 million km2 5 1 million sq mi with an average thickness of 2 100 m 7 000 ft Greenland and Patagonia also have huge expanses of continental glaciers 4 The volume of glaciers not including the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland has been estimated at 170 000 km3 5 Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on Earth holding with ice sheets about 69 percent of the world s freshwater 6 7 Many glaciers from temperate alpine and seasonal polar climates store water as ice during the colder seasons and release it later in the form of meltwater as warmer summer temperatures cause the glacier to melt creating a water source that is especially important for plants animals and human uses when other sources may be scant However within high altitude and Antarctic environments the seasonal temperature difference is often not sufficient to release meltwater Since glacial mass is affected by long term climatic changes e g precipitation mean temperature and cloud cover glacial mass changes are considered among the most sensitive indicators of climate change and are a major source of variations in sea level A large piece of compressed ice or a glacier appears blue as large quantities of water appear blue This is because water molecules absorb other colors more efficiently than blue The other reason for the blue color of glaciers is the lack of air bubbles Air bubbles which give a white color to ice are squeezed out by pressure increasing the created ice s density Contents 1 Etymology and related terms 2 Types 2 1 Classification by size shape and behavior 2 2 Classification by thermal state 3 Formation 4 Structure 5 Motion 5 1 Fracture zone and cracks 5 2 Speed 5 3 Ogives 6 Geography 7 Glacial geology 7 1 Moraines 7 2 Drumlins 7 3 Glacial valleys cirques aretes and pyramidal peaks 7 4 Roches moutonnees 7 5 Alluvial stratification 7 6 Glacial deposits 7 7 Loess deposits 8 Climate change 9 Isostatic rebound 10 On Mars 11 Maps 12 See also 13 Notes 14 References 15 Further reading 16 External linksEtymology and related terms EditThe word glacier is a loanword from French and goes back via Franco Provencal to the Vulgar Latin glaciarium derived from the Late Latin glacia and ultimately Latin glacies meaning ice 8 The processes and features caused by or related to glaciers are referred to as glacial The process of glacier establishment growth and flow is called glaciation The corresponding area of study is called glaciology Glaciers are important components of the global cryosphere Ice calving from the terminus of the Perito Moreno Glacier in western Patagonia Argentina The Aletsch Glacier the largest glacier of the Alps in Switzerland The Quelccaya Ice Cap is the second largest glaciated area in the tropics in Peru Types EditClassification by size shape and behavior Edit Further information Glacier morphology Glaciers are categorized by their morphology thermal characteristics and behavior Alpine glaciers form on the crests and slopes of mountains A glacier that fills a valley is called a valley glacier or alternatively an alpine glacier or mountain glacier 9 A large body of glacial ice astride a mountain mountain range or volcano is termed an ice cap or ice field 10 Ice caps have an area less than 50 000 km2 19 000 sq mi by definition Glacial bodies larger than 50 000 km2 19 000 sq mi are called ice sheets or continental glaciers 11 Several kilometers deep they obscure the underlying topography Only nunataks protrude from their surfaces The only extant ice sheets are the two that cover most of Antarctica and Greenland 12 They contain vast quantities of freshwater enough that if both melted global sea levels would rise by over 70 m 230 ft 13 Portions of an ice sheet or cap that extend into water are called ice shelves they tend to be thin with limited slopes and reduced velocities 14 Narrow fast moving sections of an ice sheet are called ice streams 15 16 In Antarctica many ice streams drain into large ice shelves Some drain directly into the sea often with an ice tongue like Mertz Glacier Tidewater glaciers are glaciers that terminate in the sea including most glaciers flowing from Greenland Antarctica Baffin Devon and Ellesmere Islands in Canada Southeast Alaska and the Northern and Southern Patagonian Ice Fields As the ice reaches the sea pieces break off or calve forming icebergs Most tidewater glaciers calve above sea level which often results in a tremendous impact as the iceberg strikes the water Tidewater glaciers undergo centuries long cycles of advance and retreat that are much less affected by climate change than other glaciers 17 Mouth of the Schlatenkees Glacier near Innergschloss Austria The Grotta del Gelo is a cave of Etna volcano the southernmost glacier in Europe Sightseeing boat in front of a tidewater glacier Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska Classification by thermal state Edit Webber Glacier on Grant Land northern Ellesmere Island is an advancing polar glacier and frozen to the glacier bed Debris rich layers of the ground moraine are sheared and folded into the ice The steep icefront shows waterfalls The glacier front is 6 km broad and up to 40 m high July 20 1978 Thermally a temperate glacier is at a melting point throughout the year from its surface to its base The ice of a polar glacier is always below the freezing threshold from the surface to its base although the surface snowpack may experience seasonal melting A subpolar glacier includes both temperate and polar ice depending on the depth beneath the surface and position along the length of the glacier In a similar way the thermal regime of a glacier is often described by its basal temperature A cold based glacier is below freezing at the ice ground interface and is thus frozen to the underlying substrate A warm based glacier is above or at freezing at the interface and is able to slide at this contact 18 This contrast is thought to a large extent to govern the ability of a glacier to effectively erode its bed as sliding ice promotes plucking at rock from the surface below 19 Glaciers which are partly cold based and partly warm based are known as polythermal 18 Formation EditGlaciers form where the accumulation of snow and ice exceeds ablation A glacier usually originates from a cirque landform alternatively known as a corrie or as a cwm a typically armchair shaped geological feature such as a depression between mountains enclosed by aretes which collects and compresses through gravity the snow that falls into it This snow accumulates and the weight of the snow falling above compacts it forming neve granular snow Further crushing of the individual snowflakes and squeezing the air from the snow turns it into glacial ice This glacial ice will fill the cirque until it overflows through a geological weakness or vacancy such as a gap between two mountains When the mass of snow and ice reaches sufficient thickness it begins to move by a combination of surface slope gravity and pressure On steeper slopes this can occur with as little as 15 m 50 ft of snow ice In temperate glaciers snow repeatedly freezes and thaws changing into granular ice called firn Under the pressure of the layers of ice and snow above it this granular ice fuses into denser firn Over a period of years layers of firn undergo further compaction and become glacial ice Glacier ice is slightly more dense than ice formed from frozen water because glacier ice contains fewer trapped air bubbles Glacial ice has a distinctive blue tint because it absorbs some red light due to an overtone of the infrared OH stretching mode of the water molecule Liquid water appears blue for the same reason The blue of glacier ice is sometimes misattributed to Rayleigh scattering of bubbles in the ice 20 Gorner Glacier in Switzerland An aerial photograph of the Gorner Glacier left side of image together with the Grenzgletscher r flowing into it both framing the Monte Rosa massif in the middle A packrafter passes a wall of freshly exposed blue ice on Spencer Glacier in Alaska Glacial ice acts like a filter on light and the more time light spends traveling through the ice the bluer it becomes A glacier cave located on the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina Structure EditA glacier originates at a location called its glacier head and terminates at its glacier foot snout or terminus Glaciers are broken into zones based on surface snowpack and melt conditions 21 The ablation zone is the region where there is a net loss in glacier mass The upper part of a glacier where accumulation exceeds ablation is called the accumulation zone The equilibrium line separates the ablation zone and the accumulation zone it is the contour where the amount of new snow gained by accumulation is equal to the amount of ice lost through ablation In general the accumulation zone accounts for 60 70 of the glacier s surface area more if the glacier calves icebergs Ice in the accumulation zone is deep enough to exert a downward force that erodes underlying rock After a glacier melts it often leaves behind a bowl or amphitheater shaped depression that ranges in size from large basins like the Great Lakes to smaller mountain depressions known as cirques The accumulation zone can be subdivided based on its melt conditions The dry snow zone is a region where no melt occurs even in the summer and the snowpack remains dry The percolation zone is an area with some surface melt causing meltwater to percolate into the snowpack This zone is often marked by refrozen ice lenses glands and layers The snowpack also never reaches the melting point Near the equilibrium line on some glaciers a superimposed ice zone develops This zone is where meltwater refreezes as a cold layer in the glacier forming a continuous mass of ice The wet snow zone is the region where all of the snow deposited since the end of the previous summer has been raised to 0 C The health of a glacier is usually assessed by determining the glacier mass balance or observing terminus behavior Healthy glaciers have large accumulation zones more than 60 of their area is snow covered at the end of the melt season and they have a terminus with a vigorous flow Following the Little Ice Age s end around 1850 glaciers around the Earth have retreated substantially A slight cooling led to the advance of many alpine glaciers between 1950 and 1985 but since 1985 glacier retreat and mass loss has become larger and increasingly ubiquitous 22 23 24 Motion EditMain article Ice sheet dynamics Shear or herring bone crevasses on Emmons Glacier Mount Rainier such crevasses often form near the edge of a glacier where interactions with underlying or marginal rock impede flow In this case the impediment appears to be some distance from the near margin of the glacier Glaciers move or flow downhill by the force of gravity and the internal deformation of ice 25 Ice behaves like a brittle solid until its thickness exceeds about 50 m 160 ft The pressure on ice deeper than 50 m causes plastic flow At the molecular level ice consists of stacked layers of molecules with relatively weak bonds between layers When the stress on the layer above exceeds the inter layer binding strength it moves faster than the layer below 26 Glaciers also move through basal sliding In this process a glacier slides over the terrain on which it sits lubricated by the presence of liquid water The water is created from ice that melts under high pressure from frictional heating Basal sliding is dominant in temperate or warm based glaciers Although evidence in favor of glacial flow was known by the early 19th century other theories of glacial motion were advanced such as the idea that meltwater refreezing inside glaciers caused the glacier to dilate and extend its length As it became clear that glaciers behaved to some degree as if the ice were a viscous fluid it was argued that regelation or the melting and refreezing of ice at a temperature lowered by the pressure on the ice inside the glacier was what allowed the ice to deform and flow James Forbes came up with the essentially correct explanation in the 1840s although it was several decades before it was fully accepted 27 Fracture zone and cracks Edit The top 50 m 160 ft of a glacier are rigid because they are under low pressure This upper section is known as the fracture zone and moves mostly as a single unit over the plastic flowing lower section When a glacier moves through irregular terrain cracks called crevasses develop in the fracture zone Crevasses form because of differences in glacier velocity If two rigid sections of a glacier move at different speeds or directions shear forces cause them to break apart opening a crevasse Crevasses are seldom more than 46 m 150 ft deep but in some cases can be at least 300 m 1 000 ft deep Beneath this point the plasticity of the ice prevents the formation of cracks Intersecting crevasses can create isolated peaks in the ice called seracs Crevasses can form in several different ways Transverse crevasses are transverse to flow and form where steeper slopes cause a glacier to accelerate Longitudinal crevasses form semi parallel to flow where a glacier expands laterally Marginal crevasses form near the edge of the glacier caused by the reduction in speed caused by friction of the valley walls Marginal crevasses are largely transverse to flow Moving glacier ice can sometimes separate from the stagnant ice above forming a bergschrund Bergschrunds resemble crevasses but are singular features at a glacier s margins Crevasses make travel over glaciers hazardous especially when they are hidden by fragile snow bridges Below the equilibrium line glacial meltwater is concentrated in stream channels Meltwater can pool in proglacial lakes on top of a glacier or descend into the depths of a glacier via moulins Streams within or beneath a glacier flow in englacial or sub glacial tunnels These tunnels sometimes reemerge at the glacier s surface 28 Ice cracks in the Titlis Glacier Crossing a crevasse on the Easton Glacier Mount Baker in the North Cascades United States An exposed glacier tube that once transported water down the interior of the glacier Speed Edit The speed of glacial displacement is partly determined by friction Friction makes the ice at the bottom of the glacier move more slowly than ice at the top In alpine glaciers friction is also generated at the valley s sidewalls which slows the edges relative to the center Mean glacial speed varies greatly but is typically around 1 m 3 ft per day 29 There may be no motion in stagnant areas for example in parts of Alaska trees can establish themselves on surface sediment deposits In other cases glaciers can move as fast as 20 30 m 70 100 ft per day such as in Greenland s Jakobshavn Isbrae Glacial speed is affected by factors such as slope ice thickness snowfall longitudinal confinement basal temperature meltwater production and bed hardness A few glaciers have periods of very rapid advancement called surges These glaciers exhibit normal movement until suddenly they accelerate then return to their previous movement state 30 These surges may be caused by the failure of the underlying bedrock the pooling of meltwater at the base of the glacier 31 perhaps delivered from a supraglacial lake or the simple accumulation of mass beyond a critical tipping point 32 Temporary rates up to 90 m 300 ft per day have occurred when increased temperature or overlying pressure caused bottom ice to melt and water to accumulate beneath a glacier In glaciated areas where the glacier moves faster than one km per year glacial earthquakes occur These are large scale earthquakes that have seismic magnitudes as high as 6 1 33 34 The number of glacial earthquakes in Greenland peaks every year in July August and September and increased rapidly in the 1990s and 2000s In a study using data from January 1993 through October 2005 more events were detected every year since 2002 and twice as many events were recorded in 2005 as there were in any other year 34 Ogives Edit Forbes bands on the Mer de Glace glacier in France Ogives or Forbes bands 35 are alternating wave crests and valleys that appear as dark and light bands of ice on glacier surfaces They are linked to seasonal motion of glaciers the width of one dark and one light band generally equals the annual movement of the glacier Ogives are formed when ice from an icefall is severely broken up increasing ablation surface area during summer This creates a swale and space for snow accumulation in the winter which in turn creates a ridge 36 Sometimes ogives consist only of undulations or color bands and are described as wave ogives or band ogives 37 Geography EditFurther information on this topic List of glaciers Black ice glacier near Aconcagua Argentina Fox Glacier in New Zealand finishes near a rainforest Glaciers are present on every continent and in approximately fifty countries excluding those Australia South Africa that have glaciers only on distant subantarctic island territories Extensive glaciers are found in Antarctica Argentina Chile Canada Alaska Greenland and Iceland Mountain glaciers are widespread especially in the Andes the Himalayas the Rocky Mountains the Caucasus Scandinavian mountains and the Alps Snezhnika glacier in Pirin Mountain Bulgaria with a latitude of 41 46 09 N is the southernmost glacial mass in Europe 38 Mainland Australia currently contains no glaciers although a small glacier on Mount Kosciuszko was present in the last glacial period 39 In New Guinea small rapidly diminishing glaciers are located on Puncak Jaya 40 Africa has glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on Mount Kenya and in the Rwenzori Mountains Oceanic islands with glaciers include Iceland several of the islands off the coast of Norway including Svalbard and Jan Mayen to the far north New Zealand and the subantarctic islands of Marion Heard Grande Terre Kerguelen and Bouvet During glacial periods of the Quaternary Taiwan Hawaii on Mauna Kea 41 and Tenerife also had large alpine glaciers while the Faroe and Crozet Islands 42 were completely glaciated The permanent snow cover necessary for glacier formation is affected by factors such as the degree of slope on the land amount of snowfall and the winds Glaciers can be found in all latitudes except from 20 to 27 north and south of the equator where the presence of the descending limb of the Hadley circulation lowers precipitation so much that with high insolation snow lines reach above 6 500 m 21 330 ft Between 19 N and 19 S however precipitation is higher and the mountains above 5 000 m 16 400 ft usually have permanent snow Even at high latitudes glacier formation is not inevitable Areas of the Arctic such as Banks Island and the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica are considered polar deserts where glaciers cannot form because they receive little snowfall despite the bitter cold Cold air unlike warm air is unable to transport much water vapor Even during glacial periods of the Quaternary Manchuria lowland Siberia 43 and central and northern Alaska 44 though extraordinarily cold had such light snowfall that glaciers could not form 45 46 In addition to the dry unglaciated polar regions some mountains and volcanoes in Bolivia Chile and Argentina are high 4 500 to 6 900 m or 14 800 to 22 600 ft and cold but the relative lack of precipitation prevents snow from accumulating into glaciers This is because these peaks are located near or in the hyperarid Atacama Desert Glacial geology Edit Diagram of glacial plucking and abrasion Glacially plucked granitic bedrock near Mariehamn Aland Glaciers erode terrain through two principal processes abrasion and plucking As glaciers flow over bedrock they soften and lift blocks of rock into the ice This process called plucking is caused by subglacial water that penetrates fractures in the bedrock and subsequently freezes and expands This expansion causes the ice to act as a lever that loosens the rock by lifting it Thus sediments of all sizes become part of the glacier s load If a retreating glacier gains enough debris it may become a rock glacier like the Timpanogos Glacier in Utah Abrasion occurs when the ice and its load of rock fragments slide over bedrock and function as sandpaper smoothing and polishing the bedrock below The pulverized rock this process produces is called rock flour and is made up of rock grains between 0 002 and 0 00625 mm in size Abrasion leads to steeper valley walls and mountain slopes in alpine settings which can cause avalanches and rock slides which add even more material to the glacier Glacial abrasion is commonly characterized by glacial striations Glaciers produce these when they contain large boulders that carve long scratches in the bedrock By mapping the direction of the striations researchers can determine the direction of the glacier s movement Similar to striations are chatter marks lines of crescent shape depressions in the rock underlying a glacier They are formed by abrasion when boulders in the glacier are repeatedly caught and released as they are dragged along the bedrock The rate of glacier erosion varies Six factors control erosion rate Velocity of glacial movement Thickness of the ice Shape abundance and hardness of rock fragments contained in the ice at the bottom of the glacier Relative ease of erosion of the surface under the glacier Thermal conditions at the glacier base Permeability and water pressure at the glacier base When the bedrock has frequent fractures on the surface glacial erosion rates tend to increase as plucking is the main erosive force on the surface when the bedrock has wide gaps between sporadic fractures however abrasion tends to be the dominant erosive form and glacial erosion rates become slow 47 Glaciers in lower latitudes tend to be much more erosive than glaciers in higher latitudes because they have more meltwater reaching the glacial base and facilitate sediment production and transport under the same moving speed and amount of ice 48 Material that becomes incorporated in a glacier is typically carried as far as the zone of ablation before being deposited Glacial deposits are of two distinct types Glacial till material directly deposited from glacial ice Till includes a mixture of undifferentiated material ranging from clay size to boulders the usual composition of a moraine Fluvial and outwash sediments sediments deposited by water These deposits are stratified by size Larger pieces of rock that are encrusted in till or deposited on the surface are called glacial erratics They range in size from pebbles to boulders but as they are often moved great distances they may be drastically different from the material upon which they are found Patterns of glacial erratics hint at past glacial motions Moraines Edit Glacial moraines above Lake Louise Alberta Canada Glacial moraines are formed by the deposition of material from a glacier and are exposed after the glacier has retreated They usually appear as linear mounds of till a non sorted mixture of rock gravel and boulders within a matrix of fine powdery material Terminal or end moraines are formed at the foot or terminal end of a glacier Lateral moraines are formed on the sides of the glacier Medial moraines are formed when two different glaciers merge and the lateral moraines of each coalesce to form a moraine in the middle of the combined glacier Less apparent are ground moraines also called glacial drift which often blankets the surface underneath the glacier downslope from the equilibrium line The term moraine is of French origin It was coined by peasants to describe alluvial embankments and rims found near the margins of glaciers in the French Alps In modern geology the term is used more broadly and is applied to a series of formations all of which are composed of till Moraines can also create moraine dammed lakes Drumlins Edit A drumlin field forms after a glacier has modified the landscape The teardrop shaped formations denote the direction of the ice flow Drumlins are asymmetrical canoe shaped hills made mainly of till Their heights vary from 15 to 50 meters and they can reach a kilometer in length The steepest side of the hill faces the direction from which the ice advanced stoss while a longer slope is left in the ice s direction of movement lee Drumlins are found in groups called drumlin fields or drumlin camps One of these fields is found east of Rochester New York it is estimated to contain about 10 000 drumlins Although the process that forms drumlins is not fully understood their shape implies that they are products of the plastic deformation zone of ancient glaciers It is believed that many drumlins were formed when glaciers advanced over and altered the deposits of earlier glaciers Glacial valleys cirques aretes and pyramidal peaks Edit Features of a glacial landscape Before glaciation mountain valleys have a characteristic V shape produced by eroding water During glaciation these valleys are often widened deepened and smoothed to form a U shaped glacial valley or glacial trough as it is sometimes called 49 The erosion that creates glacial valleys truncates any spurs of rock or earth that may have earlier extended across the valley creating broadly triangular shaped cliffs called truncated spurs Within glacial valleys depressions created by plucking and abrasion can be filled by lakes called paternoster lakes If a glacial valley runs into a large body of water it forms a fjord Typically glaciers deepen their valleys more than their smaller tributaries Therefore when glaciers recede the valleys of the tributary glaciers remain above the main glacier s depression and are called hanging valleys At the start of a classic valley glacier is a bowl shaped cirque which has escarped walls on three sides but is open on the side that descends into the valley Cirques are where ice begins to accumulate in a glacier Two glacial cirques may form back to back and erode their backwalls until only a narrow ridge called an arete is left This structure may result in a mountain pass If multiple cirques encircle a single mountain they create pointed pyramidal peaks particularly steep examples are called horns Roches moutonnees Edit Passage of glacial ice over an area of bedrock may cause the rock to be sculpted into a knoll called a roche moutonnee or sheepback rock Roches moutonnees may be elongated rounded and asymmetrical in shape They range in length from less than a meter to several hundred meters long 50 Roches moutonnees have a gentle slope on their up glacier sides and a steep to vertical face on their down glacier sides The glacier abrades the smooth slope on the upstream side as it flows along but tears rock fragments loose and carries them away from the downstream side via plucking Alluvial stratification Edit As the water that rises from the ablation zone moves away from the glacier it carries fine eroded sediments with it As the speed of the water decreases so does its capacity to carry objects in suspension The water thus gradually deposits the sediment as it runs creating an alluvial plain When this phenomenon occurs in a valley it is called a valley train When the deposition is in an estuary the sediments are known as bay mud Outwash plains and valley trains are usually accompanied by basins known as kettles These are small lakes formed when large ice blocks that are trapped in alluvium melt and produce water filled depressions Kettle diameters range from 5 m to 13 km with depths of up to 45 meters Most are circular in shape because the blocks of ice that formed them were rounded as they melted 51 Glacial deposits Edit Landscape produced by a receding glacier When a glacier s size shrinks below a critical point its flow stops and it becomes stationary Meanwhile meltwater within and beneath the ice leaves stratified alluvial deposits These deposits in the forms of columns terraces and clusters remain after the glacier melts and are known as glacial deposits Glacial deposits that take the shape of hills or mounds are called kames Some kames form when meltwater deposits sediments through openings in the interior of the ice Others are produced by fans or deltas created by meltwater When the glacial ice occupies a valley it can form terraces or kames along the sides of the valley Long sinuous glacial deposits are called eskers Eskers are composed of sand and gravel that was deposited by meltwater streams that flowed through ice tunnels within or beneath a glacier They remain after the ice melts with heights exceeding 100 meters and lengths of as long as 100 km Loess deposits Edit Very fine glacial sediments or rock flour is often picked up by wind blowing over the bare surface and may be deposited great distances from the original fluvial deposition site These eolian loess deposits may be very deep even hundreds of meters as in areas of China and the Midwestern United States Katabatic winds can be important in this process Climate change EditFurther information Retreat of glaciers since 1850 Glaciers are a valuable resource for tracking climate change over long periods of time because they can be hundreds of thousands of years old To study the patterns over time through glaciers ice cores are taken providing continuous information including evidence for climate change trapped in the ice for scientists to break down and study 52 Glaciers are studied to give information about the history of climate change due to natural or human causes 53 Human activity has caused an increase in greenhouse gases creating a global warming trend 53 causing these valuable glaciers to melt Glaciers have an albedo effect and the melting of glaciers means less albedo In the Alps the summer of 2003 was compared to the summer of 1988 Between 1998 and 2003 the albedo value is 0 2 lower in 2003 54 When glaciers begin to melt they also cause a rise in sea level which in turn increases coastal erosion and elevates storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons 55 Thus human causes to climate change creates a positive feedback loop with the glaciers The rise in temperature causes more glacier melt leading to less albedo higher sea levels and many other climate issues to follow From 1972 all the way up to 2019 NASA has used a Landsat satellite that has been used to record glaciers in Alaska Greenland and Antarctica This Landsat project has found that since around 2000 glacier retreat has increased substantially 56 South Cascade Glacier in Washington documented from 1928 to 2003 showing the recent rapid glacier retreating By looking at this photo it s clear to see how quickly the glaciers are retreating in the modern world This kind of retreating is the result of climate change which has significantly increased due to human impacts This photo was taken from USGS U S Department of Interior research looking at the last 50 years of glacier change 57 Isostatic rebound Edit Isostatic pressure by a glacier on the Earth s crust Large masses such as ice sheets or glaciers can depress the crust of the Earth into the mantle 58 The depression usually totals a third of the ice sheet or glacier s thickness After the ice sheet or glacier melts the mantle begins to flow back to its original position pushing the crust back up This post glacial rebound which proceeds very slowly after the melting of the ice sheet or glacier is currently occurring in measurable amounts in Scandinavia and the Great Lakes region of North America A geomorphological feature created by the same process on a smaller scale is known as dilation faulting It occurs where previously compressed rock is allowed to return to its original shape more rapidly than can be maintained without faulting This leads to an effect similar to what would be seen if the rock were hit by a large hammer Dilation faulting can be observed in recently de glaciated parts of Iceland and Cumbria On Mars EditMain article Glaciers on Mars Northern polar ice cap on Mars The polar ice caps of Mars show geologic evidence of glacial deposits The south polar cap is especially comparable to glaciers on Earth 59 Topographical features and computer models indicate the existence of more glaciers in Mars past 60 At mid latitudes between 35 and 65 north or south Martian glaciers are affected by the thin Martian atmosphere Because of the low atmospheric pressure ablation near the surface is solely caused by sublimation not melting As on Earth many glaciers are covered with a layer of rocks which insulates the ice A radar instrument on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found ice under a thin layer of rocks in formations called lobate debris aprons LDAs 61 62 63 64 65 The pictures below illustrate how landscape features on Mars closely resemble those on the Earth Romer Lake s Elephant Foot Glacier in the Earth s Arctic as seen by Landsat 8 This picture shows several glaciers that have the same shape as many features on Mars that are believed to also be glaciers The next three images from Mars show shapes similar to the Elephant Foot Glacier Mesa in Ismenius Lacus quadrangle as seen by CTX Mesa has several glaciers eroding it One of the glaciers is seen in greater detail in the next two images from HiRISE Image from Ismenius Lacus quadrangle Glacier as seen by HiRISE under the HiWish program Area in the rectangle is enlarged in the next photo Zone of accumulation of snow at the top Glacier is moving down valley then spreading out on plain Evidence for flow comes from the many lines on surface Location is in Protonilus Mensae in Ismenius Lacus quadrangle Enlargement of area in rectangle of the previous image On Earth the ridge would be called the terminal moraine of an alpine glacier Picture taken with HiRISE under the HiWish program Image from Ismenius Lacus quadrangle Maps EditSee source Wikidata query location of glaciers according to GLIMS ID identifier assigned to glaciers by the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space service at NSIDC See also EditGlacial landform Landform created by the action of glaciers Glacial motion Geological phenomenon Glacier growing Glacier morphology Geomorphology of glacier lakes Ice jamNotes Edit a b Craig Tim 2016 08 12 Pakistan has more glaciers than almost anywhere on Earth But they are at risk The Washington Post ISSN 0190 8286 Retrieved 2020 09 04 With 7 253 known glaciers including 543 in the Chitral Valley there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions according to various studies Post Austin LaChapelle Edward R 2000 Glacier ice Seattle University of Washington Press ISBN 978 0 295 97910 6 Staff June 9 2020 Millions at risk as melting Pakistan glaciers raise flood fears www aljazeera com Retrieved 2020 06 09 National Geographic Almanac of Geography 2005 ISBN 0 7922 3877 X p 149 170 000 km cube d eau dans les glaciers du monde ArcInfo Aug 6 2015 Archived from the original on August 17 2017 Ice Snow and Glaciers and the Water Cycle www usgs gov Retrieved 2021 05 25 Brown Molly Elizabeth Ouyang Hua Habib Shahid Shrestha Basanta Shrestha Mandira Panday Prajjwal Tzortziou Maria Policelli Frederick Artan Guleid Giriraj Amarnath Bajracharya Sagar R Racoviteanu Adina November 2010 HIMALA Climate Impacts on Glaciers Snow and Hydrology in the Himalayan Region Mountain Research and Development International Mountain Society 30 4 401 404 doi 10 1659 MRD JOURNAL D 10 00071 1 hdl 2060 20110015312 S2CID 129545865 Simpson D P 1979 Cassell s Latin Dictionary 5 ed London Cassell Ltd p 883 ISBN 978 0 304 52257 6 Glossary of Glacier Terminology USGS Retrieved 2017 03 13 Retreat of Alaskan glacier Juneau icefield Nichols edu Retrieved 2009 01 05 Glossary of Meteorology American Meteorological Society Archived from the original on 2012 06 23 Retrieved 2013 01 04 Department of Geography and Geology University of Wisconsin 2015 Morphological Classification of Glaciers PDF www uwsp edu Pages default aspx Sea Level and Climate USGS FS 002 00 USGS 2000 01 31 Retrieved 2009 01 05 Types of Glaciers National Snow and Ice Data Center Archived from the original on 2010 04 17 Bindschadler R A Scambos T A 1991 Satellite image derived velocity field of an Antarctic ice stream Science 252 5003 242 46 Bibcode 1991Sci 252 242B doi 10 1126 science 252 5003 242 PMID 17769268 S2CID 17336434 Description of Ice Streams British Antarctic Survey Archived from the original on 2009 02 11 Retrieved 2009 01 26 What types of glaciers are there National Snow and Ice Data Center nsidc org Retrieved 2017 08 12 a b Lorrain Reginald D Fitzsimons Sean J 2017 Cold Based Glaciers In Singh Vijay P Singh Pratap Haritashya Umesh K eds Encyclopedia of Snow Ice and Glaciers Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series Springer Netherlands pp 157 161 doi 10 1007 978 90 481 2642 2 72 ISBN 978 90 481 2641 5 Boulton G S 1974 Processes and patterns of glacial erosion In Coates D R ed Glacial Geomorphology A Proceedings Volume of the Fifth Annual Geomorphology Symposia Series held at Binghamton New York September 26 28 1974 Binghamton NY State University of New York pp 41 87 Publications in Geomorphology What causes the blue color that sometimes appears in snow and ice Webexhibits org Retrieved 2013 01 04 Benson C S 1961 Stratigraphic studies in the snow and firn of the Greenland Ice Sheet Res Rep 70 U S Army Snow Ice and Permafrost Res Establ Corps of Eng 120 pp Glacier change and related hazards in Switzerland UNEP Archived from the original on 2012 09 25 Retrieved 2009 01 05 Paul Frank Kaab Andreas Maisch Max Kellenberger Tobias Haeberli Wilfried 2004 Rapid disintegration of Alpine glaciers observed with satellite data PDF Geophysical Research Letters 31 21 L21402 Bibcode 2004GeoRL 3121402P doi 10 1029 2004GL020816 Recent Global Glacier Retreat Overview PDF Retrieved 2013 01 04 Greve R Blatter H 2009 Dynamics of Ice Sheets and Glaciers Springer doi 10 1007 978 3 642 03415 2 ISBN 978 3 642 03414 5 S2CID 128734526 W S B Paterson Physics of ice Clarke Garry K C 1987 A short history of scientific investigations on glaciers Journal of Glaciology Special issue S1 4 5 Bibcode 1987JGlac 33S 4C doi 10 3189 S0022143000215785 Moulin Blanc NASA Expedition Probes Deep Within a Greenland Glacier NASA 2006 12 11 Retrieved 2009 01 05 Glaciers www geo hunter cuny edu Archived from the original on 2014 02 22 Retrieved 2014 02 06 T Strozzi et al The Evolution of a Glacier Surge Observed with the ERS Satellites Archived 2014 11 11 at the Wayback Machine pdf 1 3 Mb The Bruarjokull Project Sedimentary environments of a surging glacier The Bruarjokull Project research idea Hi is Retrieved 2013 01 04 Meier amp Post 1969 Seasonality and Increasing Frequency of Greenland Glacial Earthquakes Archived 2008 10 07 at the Wayback Machine Ekstrom G M Nettles and V C Tsai 2006 Science 311 5768 1756 1758 doi 10 1126 science 1122112 a b Analysis of Glacial Earthquakes Archived 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01 04 Collins Henry Hill Europe and the USSR p 263 OCLC 1573476 Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center Beringia com 1999 04 12 Archived from the original on 2012 10 31 Retrieved 2013 01 04 Earth History 2001 PDF July 28 2017 p 15 Archived from the original PDF on March 3 2016 Retrieved July 28 2017 On the Zoogeography of the Holarctic Region Wku edu Retrieved 2013 01 04 Duhnforth Miriam Anderson Robert S Ward Dylan Stock Greg M 2010 05 01 Bedrock fracture control of glacial erosion processes and rates Geology 38 5 423 426 Bibcode 2010Geo 38 423D doi 10 1130 G30576 1 ISSN 0091 7613 Koppes Michele Hallet Bernard Rignot Eric Mouginot Jeremie Wellner Julia Smith Boldt Katherine 2015 Observed latitudinal variations in erosion as a function of glacier dynamics Nature 526 7571 100 103 Bibcode 2015Natur 526 100K doi 10 1038 nature15385 PMID 26432248 S2CID 4461215 1 Glacial Landforms Trough Glaciers amp Glaciation Arnold London 1998 Douglas Benn and David Evans pp324 326 Kettle geology Britannica Online Retrieved 2009 03 12 Glaciers and climate change National Snow and Ice Data Center nsidc org Retrieved 2020 03 31 a b Climate Change Glacier Mass Balance NOAA Climate gov www climate gov Retrieved 2020 02 26 Paul Frank February 2005 On the Impact of Glacier Albedo Under Conditions of Extreme Glacier Melt The Summer of 2003 in the Alps PDF EARSeL EProceedings 4 139 149 via University of Zurich Department of Geography Zurich Switzerland Why are glaciers and sea ice melting World Wildlife Fund Retrieved 2020 03 31 Center By Kate Ramsayer NASA s Goddard Space Flight Ice in Motion Satellites Capture Decades of Change Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet Retrieved 2020 03 31 USGS Fact Sheet 2009 3046 Fifty Year Record of Glacier Change Reveals Shifting Climate in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska USA pubs usgs gov Retrieved 2020 03 31 Casper Julie Kerr 2010 Global Warming Cycles Ice Ages and Glacial Retreat Infobase Publishing ISBN 978 0 8160 7262 0 Kargel J S et al Martian Polar Ice Sheets and Mid Latitude Debris Rich Glaciers and Terrestrial Analogs Third International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration Alberta Canada October 13 17 2003 pdf 970 Kb PDF Retrieved 2013 01 04 Martian glaciers did they originate from the atmosphere ESA Mars Express 20 January 2006 Esa int 2006 01 20 Retrieved 2013 01 04 Head J et al 2005 Tropical to mid latitude snow and ice accumulation flow and glaciation on Mars Nature 434 346 350 Source Brown University Posted Monday October 17 2005 2005 10 17 Mars climate in flux Mid latitude glaciers SpaceRef Your Space Reference Marstoday com Archived from the original on December 5 2012 Retrieved 2013 01 04 a href wiki Template Cite web title Template Cite web cite web a CS1 maint multiple names authors list link Richard Lewis 2008 04 23 Glaciers Reveal Martian Climate Has Been Recently Active Brown University News and Events News brown edu Retrieved 2013 01 04 Plaut J et al 2008 Radar Evidence for Ice in Lobate Debris Aprons in the Mid Northern Latitudes of Mars Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIX 2290 pdf Holt J et al 2008 Radar Sounding Evidence for Ice within Lobate Debris Aprons near Hellas Basin Mid Southern Latitudes of Mars Lunar and Planetary Science XXXIX 2441 pdfReferences EditThis article draws heavily on the corresponding article in the Spanish language Wikipedia which was accessed in the version of 24 July 2005 Hambrey Michael Alean Jurg 2004 Glaciers 2nd ed Cambridge University Press ISBN 978 0 521 82808 6 OCLC 54371738 An excellent less technical treatment of all aspects with superb photographs and firsthand accounts of glaciologists experiences All images of this book can be found online see Weblinks Glaciers online Benn Douglas I Evans David J A 1999 Glaciers and Glaciation Arnold ISBN 978 0 470 23651 2 OCLC 38329570 Bennett M R Glasser N F 1996 Glacial Geology Ice Sheets and Landforms John Wiley amp Sons ISBN 978 0 471 96344 8 OCLC 33359888 Hambrey Michael 1994 Glacial Environments University of British Columbia Press UCL Press ISBN 978 0 7748 0510 0 OCLC 30512475 An undergraduate level textbook Knight Peter G 1999 Glaciers Cheltenham Nelson Thornes ISBN 978 0 7487 4000 0 OCLC 42656957 A textbook for undergraduates avoiding mathematical complexities Walley Robert 1992 Introduction to Physical Geography Wm C Brown Publishers A textbook devoted to explaining the geography of our planet W S B Paterson 1994 Physics of Glaciers 3rd ed Pergamon Press ISBN 978 0 08 013972 2 OCLC 26188 A comprehensive reference on the physical principles underlying formation and behavior Further reading EditMoon Twila Saying goodbye to glaciers Science 12 May 2017 Vol 356 Issue 6338 pp 580 581 doi 10 1126 science aam9625External links EditThe Wikibook Historical Geology has a page on the topic of GlaciersWikimedia Commons has media related to Glacier Look up glacier in Wiktionary the free dictionary Global Glacier Changes Facts and Figures United Nations Environment Programme UNEP 2008 Archived from the original on 2018 12 25 Retrieved 2014 11 10 a report in the Global Environment Outlook GEO series Glacial structures photo atlas NOW on PBS On Thin Ice Photo project tracks changes in Himalayan glaciers since 1921 Short radio episode California Glaciers from The Mountains of California by John Muir 1894 California Legacy Project Dynamics of Glaciers GletscherVergleiche ch Before After Images by Simon Oberli Portal Mountains Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Glacier amp oldid 1088682826 Classification by thermal state, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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