Glacier Landform


A glacier has 2 characteristic

  1. Large piece of ice
  2. On land
  3. Moves and changes landscapes.

Famous Glaciers

The picture above is of Tidewater Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland

What is a Glacier Landform?

A glacier is an accumulation of snow and ice that has grown sufficiently so that it can move downhill by the force of gravity. Pressure generated at the bottom of a glacier is high enough to cause ice to melt, even in very cold freezing temperatures. This permits a glacier to move very slowly downhill.

Extreme pressure can also deform ice, causing it to flow very slowly in the lower portions of a glacier. A glacier reforms the land by carrying rocks and sediment that cuts and shapes a valley and the mountains on each side. This forms a U-shaped valley.

How are Glaciers Formed?

A glacier is formed by an accumulation of snow that is greater than loss of snow from melting and evaporation. Many years, sometimes hundreds of years, may be required to produce a new glacier if conditions are right.

How Large is a Glacier?

A glacier may fill a single valley. To have the characteristics and movement of a glacier, it generally needs to be at least 160 feet in depth. Some glaciers reach a depth of over 2000 feet. The largest glacial ice sheet in the world is the permanent ice sheet that covers almost all of the continent of Antartica with a depth of up to 3 miles.

A similar ice sheet covers Greenland. The characteristics of an ice sheet are different from glaciers that move down a mountainside. The largest moving glacier in the world is Lambert Glacier in eastern Antarctica. It is 250 miles long, 60 miles wide and up to 8000 feet deep.

Where Can a Glacier Be Found?

In the arctic and polar regions, glaciers can be found at sea level and lower elevations where yearly snowfall is sufficient. In lower latitudes, glaciers are found in high mountain regions that have enough snowfall. These includes the Rocky Mountains in North America, The Andes Mountains of South America, the Himalayas in China, the Alps of Europe and the Ural Mountains in Russia.

Famous Glaciers

• Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland
• Jostedalsbreen Glacier
• Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, USA
• Lambert Glacier, Antarctica

The fastest moving glacier in the world is Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, moving an average of 46 meters daily. The Jostedalsbreen Glacier in western Norway is 37 miles long and the largest glacier of mainland Europe with a depth of up to 2000 feet.

The Hubbard Glacier in Alaska ends at the Gulf of Alaska with towering 400 foot cliffs of ice. Huge icebergs that can be the size of a 10 story building will “calve”, falling from the ice cliffs into the gulf. As a regular destination for cruise ships, they must keep a safe distance in case of falling ice.

As the world’s largest moving glacier, Lambert Glacier descends from the Prince Charles Mountains in Antarctica for 250 miles to the Amery Ice Shelf which is an extension of the glacier in Prydz Bay.

Glacier definition:

An accumulation of snow sufficient to form ice under its own weight and permit downhill movement.

See also: glacier caves, moraine, nunatak, proglacial lake
More reading:  See what the inside of a glacier looks like.

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