Where are Earth’s glaciers located?

Glaciers exist on every continent except Australia. Approximate distribution is:

  • 91% in Antarctica
  • 8% in Greenland
  • Less than 0.5% in North America (about 0.1% in Alaska)
  • 0.2% in Asia
  • Less than 0.1% is in South America, Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Irian Jaya.

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Filter Total Items: 17

Which mountain in the conterminous U.S. has the most glaciers?

Mount Rainier, Washington, at 14,410 feet (4,393 meters), the highest peak in the Cascade Range, is a dormant volcano whose glacier ice cover exceeds that of any other mountain in the conterminous United States. Mount Rainier has approximately 26 glaciers. It contains more than five times the glacier area of all the other Cascade volcanoes...

How long can we expect the present Interglacial period to last?

No one knows for sure. In the Devils Hole, Nevada, paleoclimate record, the last four interglacials lasted over ~20,000 years with the warmest portion being a relatively stable period of 10,000 to 15,000 years duration. This is consistent with what is seen in the Vostok ice core from Antarctica and several records of sea level high stands. These...

How old is glacier ice?

The age of the oldest glacier ice in Antarctica may approach 1,000,000 years old The age of the oldest glacier ice in Greenland is more than 100,000 years old The age of the oldest Alaskan glacier ice ever recovered (from a basin between Mt. Bona and Mt. Churchill) is about 30,000 years old. Glacier flow moves newly formed ice through the entire...

Are today's glaciers leftovers from the Pleistocene ice age?

Yes and no. It depends on which glaciers you are considering. Parts of the Antarctic Continent have had continuous glacier cover for perhaps as long as 20 million years. Other areas, such as valley glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula and glaciers of the Transantarctic Mountains may date from the early Pleistocene. For Greenland, ice cores and...

Was all of Alaska covered by glaciers during the Pleistocene Ice Age?

No--most of interior Alaska, south of the Brooks Range and north of the Alaska Range, was a non-glaciated grassland refuge habitat for a number of plant and animal species during the maximum Pleistocene glaciation. This ice-free corridor also provided one route for humans to move into North America.

How many glaciers currently exist in Alaska?

Based on the most recent comprehensive survey in 2011, there were about 27,000 glaciers in Alaska. However, the number of glaciers is a misleading statistic. Scientists are more interested in total glacial land coverage as a measure. The number of glaciers is less important since large ones can split up into several as they retreat. The amount of...

Do ice worms exist?

Yes, ice worms do, in fact, exist! They are small worms that live in glacial ice in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia; they have not been found in glaciers elsewhere. Contrary to stories and songs, they do not give glacier ice its blue color and they don't grow to lengths of 50 feet. (These myths were made popular by poet Robert...

Is glacier ice a type of rock?

Yes – glacier ice, like granite, is a type of rock. Glacier ice is actually a mono-mineralic rock (a rock made of only one mineral, like limestone which is composed of the mineral calcite). The mineral ice is the crystalline form of water (H 2 O). It forms through the metamorphism of tens of thousands of individual snowflakes into crystals of...

Why is glacier ice blue?

Because the red (long wavelengths) part of white light is absorbed by ice and the blue (short wavelengths) light is transmitted and scattered. The longer the path light travels in ice, the more blue it appears.

Where are glaciers found in continental North America?

Glaciers exist in both the United States and Canada. Most U.S. glaciers are in Alaska; others can be found in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nevada (Wheeler Peak Glacier in Great Basin National Park). Reputedly, Utah’s Timpanogos Glacier is now a rock glacier (in which the ice is hidden by rocks), and Idaho’s Otto...

Where on Earth are temperate glaciers located?

A temperate glacier (as opposed to a polar glacier) is a glacier that’s essentially at the melting point, so liquid water coexists with glacier ice. A small change in temperature can have a major impact on temperate glacier melting, area, and volume. Temperate glaciers exist on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and...

How does present glacier extent and sea level compare to the extent of glaciers and global sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)?

The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) occurred about 20,000 years ago, during the last phase of the Pleistocene epoch. At that time, global sea level was more than 400 feet lower than it is today, and glaciers covered approximately: 8% of Earth’s surface 25% of Earth’s land area 33% of Alaska Beginning about 15,000 years ago, continental glaciers...
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Date published: May 10, 2017

Glaciers Rapidly Shrinking and Disappearing: 50 Years of Glacier Change in Montana

The warming climate has dramatically reduced the size of 39 glaciers in Montana since 1966, some by as much as 85 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University.

Date published: September 28, 2016

Fifty Years of Glacier Change Research in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the longest continuous glacier research efforts in North America.

Date published: March 18, 2015

From Icefield to Ocean - What Glacier Change Might Mean for the Future of Alaska

Frozen bodies of ice cover nearly 10 percent of the state of Alaska, but the influence of glaciers on the environment, tourism, fisheries, hydropower, and other important Alaska resources is rarely discussed.

Date published: January 20, 2015

Melting Glaciers Increase the Flow of Carbon to Downstream Ecosystems

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Melting glaciers are not just impacting sea level, they are also affecting the flow of organic carbon to the world’s oceans, according to new research that provides the first ever global-scale estimates for the storage and release of organic carbon from glaciers.

Date published: December 4, 2014

Rare Insect Found Only in Glacier National Park Imperiled by Melting Glaciers

The persistence of an already rare aquatic insect, the western glacier stonefly, is being imperiled by the loss of glaciers and increased stream temperatures due to climate warming in mountain ecosystems, according to a new study released in Freshwater Science.

Date published: August 25, 2010

Washington’s Benchmark Glacier Still Shrinking

TACOMA, Wash. — Washington’s only “benchmark” glacier continues to lose mass as a result of changes in climate, according to a report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Attribution: Land Resources
Date published: August 25, 2010

Glaciers Retreating in Asia

Many of Asia’s glaciers are retreating as a result of climate change.

Attribution: Land Resources
Filter Total Items: 16
Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.
April 5, 2016

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.

Mapping the glacier's edge in Glacier National Park.

Image: Sheridan Glacier from the Air
May 1, 2010

Sheridan Glacier from the Air

Sheridan glacier and Sheridan river from the air, rich in fine glacial flour.

Attribution:
video thumbnail: USGS Public Lecture Series: Baked Alaska--What's Happening to the Glaciers in Alaska?
September 1, 2009

USGS Public Lecture Series: Baked Alaska--What's Happening to the Glaciers in Alaska?

Glaciers are Earth's largest reservoir of freshwater. As they change, so does global sea level. Alaska has one of the largest accumulations of glaciers anywhere on Earth outside of the Polar regions. For most of the past half century, Alaska has experienced a significant increase in temperature that has profoundly impacted its glaciers. Join USGS scientist Dr. Bruce F.

...
Attribution:
USGS
August 6, 2009

The Cold Facts About Melting Glaciers

Most glaciers in Washington and Alaska are dramatically shrinking in response to a warming climate.

USGS scientist Edward Josberger discusses research from the past 50 years to measure changes in the mass (length and thickness) of three glaciers in Alaska and Washington. These are the longest such records in North America and among the longest in the world.

Image: Serpentine Glacier
August 22, 2008

Serpentine Glacier

Serpentine Glacier, Harriman Fiord, western Prince William Sound, AK.

Image: Surprise Glacier
August 22, 2008

Surprise Glacier

Surprise Glacier (in background), Harriman Fiord, western Prince William Sound.

Image: Surprise Glacier
August 22, 2008

Surprise Glacier

Surprise Glacier, Harriman Fiord, western Prince William Sound.

Image: Surprise Glacier and Cataract Glacier
August 20, 2008

Surprise Glacier and Cataract Glacier

Surprise Glacier (tidewater glacier right) and Cataract Glacier (valley glacier left), Harriman Fiord, western Prince William Sound, AK.

Image: Coxe Glacier
August 20, 2008

Coxe Glacier

Coxe Glacier, Barry Arm, western Prince William Sound

Image: Denali Fault: Canwell Glacier
November 9, 2002

Denali Fault: Canwell Glacier

Peter Haeussler prepares to measure the offset of a crevasse on the Canwell Glacier.