Glaciers are delicate and individual things, like humans. 



Not That Cold, And Not That Slow

Glaciers can be absolutely enormous. The Lambert Glacier in Antarctica is 250 miles long, 60 miles wide and a mile deep. Glaciers are found on every continent, even in the tropics. There are glaciers in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and in the mountains that border Uganda and the Congo. And like the mountain gorillas that live nearby, they are now officially endangered as a result of climate change. Experts see it as inevitable that all but a handful of the world’s tropical glaciers will disappear within a decade.
Not all glaciers are cold. ‘Warm’ glaciers have a base temperature of around 0°C: the warmth is created by friction with the bedrock. This results in a lubricated (wet) bottom, which makes the glacier flow more rapidly. Cold glaciers occur in extremely cold regions where the glacial ice has frozen to the bedrock, impeding its flow.
The Kutiah Glacier in Pakistan holds the record for the fastest glacial surge. In 1953, it raced more than 7.5 miles in three months. Normally, for a glacier to move 65 feet a day would be considered very rapid. Smaller, colder glaciers may advance less than 10 feet in a year. 

Greenland's glaciers produce 10,000 to 40,000 icebergs each year, dumping 125 cubic miles of ice into the sea.

JOHN BURROUGHS (1837-1921)

The vast ice-engine that we call a glacier ... it is noisy in its dying, but in the height of its power it is as still as the falling snow of which it is made.

Glaciers normally move at about the same speed as the hour hand of a clock.

Life in a Glacier

Not all glaciers are lifeless. In North America they are home to a small annelid worm called the ice worm (Mesenchytraeus solifugus), which lives in the partially thawed ice. They are about half an inch long and a fiftieth of an inch thick and live on the red algae that grows on the snow. Their ideal temperature is 0°C. Below -7°C they freeze to death, above 5°C and enzymes in their bodies make them melt. A single glacier can contain more ice-worms than there are humans in the world. 

There are more glaciers in Washington than in any other US state.

Wandering Glaciers

The Yulong Snow Mountain Area in southern China has the warmest glacier in the world. At the basal layer – the bit of the glacier which is directly affected by how close it is to the glacier bed – the temperature is about 0°C.
Glaciers can flow uphill. Unless a glacier is on a very steep slope, the solid ice mass won’t start to move until it is about 50 metres thick. This thickness is needed to make the base undergo plastic deformation; in other words, it begins to flow like soft plastic. The ice flows very slowly, moving away from the place where the pressure is greatest. This will be the place where the ice is thickest. So if the pressure is great enough in the right direction, glaciers can even travel uphill.
The reason there are no snakes in Ireland is not because of Saint Patrick driving them out but because of glaciers. Glaciers have advanced and retreated over Ireland's surface more than 20 times, often completely blanketing the landmass with ice. Snakes, being cold-blooded animals, aren't able to survive in areas where the ground is frozen all year round.


The glacier was God's great plough; and when the ice vanished from the face of the land, it left it prepared for the hand of the husbandman.

'Calving' is the process by which ice breaks off the end of a glacier, usually into lakes or the sea.

Glaciers are the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet, storing an estimated 75 percent of the world’s supply.

A single glacier ice crystal can grow to be as large as a tennis ball.