How Are Continental Glaciers and Valley Glaciers Similar?


Quick Answer

Continental and valley glaciers both develop in regions where there is constant snowfall and freezing temperatures throughout the year. Both types of glaciers move at a very slow pace.

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Full Answer

Valley, or alpine, glaciers develop at high-altitude mountains, such as the Himalayas, the mountain valleys of Alaska and New Zealand, where the snow accumulates above the snowline. Continental glaciers are found near the south and north poles, including Antarctica and Greenland. Both glaciers rest on large masses of land or float in the sea while attached to a nearby landmass. As it moves, a glacier changes the landscape, making it a very effective agent of erosion.

Both continental and valley glaciers have shaped the landscape of the Earth through the years. Valley glaciers move downslope due to gravity and often follow the course of an ancient valley or river. The downstream movement of the valley glacier often leaves a rounded topography or a smooth, relatively flat topography. When the glacier moves and flows down to sea level, it often makes icebergs and leaves fjords. Continental glaciers, on the other hand, move in a vast, unconfined space. Because they bury mountain ranges and are much larger in scale, they are more efficient erosion machines, basically scouring the mountains and evening out the landscape.

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