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WHAT IS A GLACIER?

Simply stated, a glacier is a large, slow-moving mass of ice. While there are many types of glaciers, they can be divided into two categories: alpine and continental. Alpine glaciers are found in a mountainous region and flow down valleys. Continental glaciers are dome-shaped glaciers that flow away from a central region and are largely unaffected by the land’s topography. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are examples of continental glaciers. Smaller masses of ice, called ice caps, are also considered continental glaciers.

Alpine glaciers are further classified by their shape as well as the surface they flow onto.

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A few types of alpine glaciers include:

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Above-freezing temperatures created a meltwater stream on the Scott Glacier, Antarctica. Photo courtesy of Blue~Canoe (Flickr).