Is glacier ice very cold?

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Episode Number: 114

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Location Taken: US

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Danielle Eganhouse. Today's question is about the temperature of glaciers.

Is glacier ice very cold?

Not really - most of the glacier ice in Alaska is only a few tenths of a degree below the melting temperature, except for a surface layer a few meters thick that is cooled during winter. As a consequence, most glaciers in Alaska are not frozen to their beds. These glaciers are referred to as "temperate" glaciers. Glaciologists refer to a glacier as a "cold" glacier if it is more than a few degrees below the freezing temperature throughout most of its thickness.

And now you know. Join us again every weekday for a new CoreFact. For other CoreFacts, or for CoreCast, our in-depth science podcast, go to usgs.gov/podcasts. If you'd like to have a question featured on our show, give us an email at corefacts@usgs.gov or a phone call at 703-648-5600. Remember, long distance fees do apply.

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