Glaciers Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Glaciers?
Glaciers are large bodies of ice that are formed over a period of hundreds or thousands of years through the accumulation and compaction of snow. Glaciers form in areas where there is an imbalance between snowfall and melting, resulting in an accumulation of snow on the surface. Over time, this snow is compressed into solid ice, forming a glacier. Glaciers can be found on every continent in the world except for Australia, and they cover about 10 percent of Earth’s land surface.Glaciers move slowly downslope due to gravity and their own weight, eroding the landscape as they go. This erosion causes features such as U-shaped valleys, horns (mountain peaks with three or more arÃªtes), hanging valleys (where tributary glaciers have been joined by a much larger glacier), cirques (bowl-shaped hollows cut into mountainsides), moraines (unsorted piles of rock debris left behind by retreating glaciers), fjords (deep underwater channels created by glacial activity) and more. Glacial depositions can also create fertile soils that are ideal for agriculture.Glaciers play an important role in regulating global climate patterns by storing large amounts of water as ice over long periods of time. This stored ice helps to moderate global temperatures by reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space which helps cool our planet. As glaciers melt due to rising temperatures caused by global warming, this stored water is released back into the environment causing sea levels to rise around the world. The melting of glaciers also affects ecosystems downstream from them as glacial meltwater can cause flooding or provide needed moisture during dry seasons in some regions while depriving other regions further downstream along their course from much needed water resources when they suddenly run dry during peak demand times such as summer months when rivers normally rely on glacial runoff for replenishment. In short, glaciers are unique natural phenomena that have played a crucial role in shaping our planet’s history both geologically and climatically while continuing to affect us today through changes caused by their gradual yet relentless melting due to rising global temperatures associated with climate change.