Meaning of Glacier

What is Glacier:

A glacier is a thick mass of ice formed on the earth’s surface by the accumulation, compaction and recrystallization of snow.


Glaciers are apparently permanent bodies of ice that show signs of movement due to the action of gravity and also provide evidence of flow in the past or today.

They form when the annual precipitation of snow exceeds that evaporated in summer. But for this to happen, cold weather must prevail so that the snow accumulates and does not melt completely.

On the other hand, the glaciation it is the process of the growth and establishment of a glacier. Glaciers are made primarily of ice, but snow, air, water, and debris or sediment contained in or carried by ice are also part of the body of a glacier.

Glacier translates into English as glacier for example, “The Perito Moreno glacier is beautiful” (“The Perito Moreno Glacier is beautiful”).

Importance of the glacier

The glacier as a body of water is a reservoir of fresh water or pure water. This means that glaciers are important, as they serve as natural storage for fresh water that we can drink.

In addition, glaciers are an important part of the water cycle (or hydrological cycle) participating in the processes of evaporation and runoff, also contributing to the formation of condensation, precipitation and infiltration.

glaciers location

Most of the glaciers are located near the poles. The largest glaciers are those called cap glaciers and are located at the North Pole, the vast majority in Greenland, and at the South Pole, in Antarctica.

In South America, the Patagonian ice fields (Perito Moreno Glacier) can be found on the border between Argentina and Chile and at the foot of the Andes, for example in Bolivia and Peru.

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In the rest of the world, glaciers can be seen in Norway, Russia, Alaska (Hubbard Glacier), Canada and France.

The huge tracts of ice that cover the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean are not glaciers, however, Greenland is a glacier comprising 8% of the volume and 14% of the total area of ​​the world’s glaciers.

Antarctica comprises 91% of the volume and 84% of the total area of ​​the world’s glaciers, and all glaciers store approximately 70% of the world’s fresh water. The rest of the glaciers comprise less than 1% of the volume and 4% of the total area of ​​the world’s glaciers.

types of glaciers

The world’s glaciers are varied and are classified according to their shape, their climatic environment and their thermal conditions.

In this sense, we can find the following types of glaciers:

  • Valley or alpine glaciers: They are generally small, cover forests and often form tongues of ice, such as the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska.
  • cap glaciers: they are of great extension, covering masses of land located mostly between Greenland and Antarctica, such as the southern Patagonian ice field.
  • plateau glaciers: they are the smallest and cover plateaus such as, for example, the glaciers of Iceland and some islands in the Arctic Ocean.

On the other hand, icebergs are calving pieces of glaciers.

The melting of glaciers

Currently, approximately 10% of the Earth is covered with glaciers. In recent geological times that percentage reached 30%.

Global warming, like climate change on a global scale, is causing a greater melting of the ice of the glaciers, causing the oceans to increase and less ice or pure water to accumulate every year. In this sense, it is causing a drastic change in the ecosystem.

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