Ecosystems

How do glaciers move?
Answered by Planet Green
  • Planet Green

    Planet Green

  1. There are two types of glaciers: alpine glaciers, which are found at high altitudes and flow down the mountain, and ice sheets, which spread and may be formed from several smaller glaciers. A glacier is made up of many parts. The terminus is the front of a glacier and is always in the same place, if the glacier is stable. Other features include moulins, which carry melted water through the glacier; seracs, which are jagged blocks of ice that form when softer ice falls away from denser ice; and ogives, which are wave-like formations at the bottom of an icefall (a place where a glacier falls over a cliff).

    Glaciers are the largest moving objects on Earth. They are so powerful that they affect the shape of the planet in Antarctica. They carve lakes, create dams for rivers and can pulverize rock formations. There's a good chance that your current landscape was shaped by glaciers. Glaciers move either through spreading or a basal slip. With spreading, the glacier expands outward after its own weight becomes too heavy, similar to what happens to heated cookie dough. In a basal slip, the glacier is stationed on a slope and pressure melts ice at the bottom, forming a thin layer of water. The loss of friction allows the glacier to "slip," or slide down the slope. Glaciers flow like rivers even though they are made of ice. The compressed ice layers are very flexible under pressure.

    Historically, when they have melted, glaciers have created some of the worst floods in Earth's history. Thanks to global warming, melted glaciers could cause the sea to rise to dangerous levels, threatening human life. In fact, the level could rise 3 to 5 feet by the end of this century, as glaciers appear to be melting faster and across a wider geographic area than scientists had anticipated USAToday.

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