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Glaciers

Glaciers

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Published by Faizan
A huge mass of ice slowly flowing over a land mass, formed from compacted snow in an area where snow accumulation exceeds melting and sublimation.
A huge mass of ice slowly flowing over a land mass, formed from compacted snow in an area where snow accumulation exceeds melting and sublimation.

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Published by: Faizan on Jun 27, 2010
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10/25/2012

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Glaciers
 
Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years,compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers formwhen snow remains in one location long enough totransform into ice. What makes glaciers unique is their ability to move. Due to sheer mass, glaciers flow like veryslow rivers. Some glaciers are as small as football fields,while others grow to be over a hundred kilometers long.Presently, glaciers occupy about 10 percent of the world'stotal land area, with most located in polar regions likeAntarctica and Greenland. Glaciers can be thought asremnants from the last Ice Age, when ice covered nearly 32 percent of the land, and 30 percent of the oceans. An IceAge occurs when cool temperature endure for extended periods of time, allowing polar ice to advance into lower latitudes. For example, during the last Ice Age, giant glacialice sheets extended from the poles to cover most of Canada, all of New England, much of the upper Midwest,large areas of Alaska, most of Greenland, Iceland, Svalbardand other arctic islands, Scandinavia, much of Great Britainand Ireland, and the northwestern part of the former SovietUnion.Within the past 750,000 years, scientists know that therehave been eight Ice Age cycles, separated by warmer  periods called interglacial periods. Currently, the Earth isnearing the end of an interglacial, meaning that another IceAge is due in a few thousand years. This is part of thenormal climate variation cycle. Greenhouse warming maydelay the onset of another glacial era, but scientists still
 
have many questions to answer about climate change.Although glaciers change very slowly over long periods,they may provide important global climate change signals.Glaciers are of four chief types. Valley, or mountain,glaciers are tongues of moving ice sent out by mountainsnowfields following valleys originally formed by streams.In the Alps there are more than 1,200 valley glaciers.Piedmont glaciers, which occur only in high latitudes, areformed by the spreading of valley glaciers where theyemerge from their valleys or by the confluence of severalvalley glaciers. Small ice sheets known as ice caps areflattened, somewhat dome-shaped glaciers spreading outhorizontally in all directions and cover mountains andvalleys. Continental glaciers are huge ice sheets whosemargins may break off to form icebergs (seeiceberg). Theonly existing continental glaciers are the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, but during
 
glacial periodstheywere far more widespread. Glaciers may be classified aswarm or cold depending on whether their temperatures areabove or below −10°C (14°F).Glaciers alter topography, and their work includeserosion,transportation, and deposition. Mountain glaciers carve outamphitheaterlike vertical-walled valley heads, or cirques, attheir sources. They transform V-shaped valleys into U-shaped valleys by grinding away the projecting bases of slopes and cliffs and leveling the floors of the valleys; inthis process tributary valleys are frequently left "hanging,"with their outlets high above the new valley floor. When

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