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A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation) over many years, often centuries. Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. They also abrade rock and debris from their substrate to create landforms such as cirques and moraines. Glaciers form only on land and are distinct from the much thinner sea ice and lake ice that form on the surface of bodies of water.

Contributors in Glaciers


ice-marginal lake

Water bodies; Glaciers

A lake that is located adjacent to the terminus of a glacier. Typically, these lakes form in bedrock basins scoured by the glacier. They enlarge as the glacier retreats. Sometimes they are dammed by ...


Water bodies; Glaciers

A large persistent body of ice. Originating on land, a glacier flows slowly due to stresses induced by its weight. A glacier forms in a location where the accumulation of snow and sleet exceeds the ...

glacier mill

Water bodies; Glaciers

A narrow, tubular chute or crevasse through which water enters a glacier from the surface. Occasionally, the lower end of a moulin may be exposed in the face of a glacier or at the edge of a stagnant ...

bergy seltzer

Water bodies; Glaciers

A crackling or sizzling similar to that made by soft drinks or seltzer water but louder. The sound made as air bubbles formed at many atmospheres of pressure are released during the melting of ...

glacial furrow

Water bodies; Glaciers

A linear depression, inches to miles in length, produced by the removal of rock or sediment by the erosive action of a glacier.


Water bodies; Glaciers

A decrease in the length of a glacier compared to a previous point in time. As ice in a glacier is always moving forward, its terminus retreats when more ice is lost at the terminus to melting and/or ...

ablation till

Water bodies; Glaciers

An irregular-shaped layer or pile of glacier sediment formed by the melting of a block of stagnant ice. Ultimately, ablationa moraine is deposited on the former bed of the glacier.

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