How Do Glaciers Form?


Quick Answer

A glacier forms when a specific environment gets consistent snowfall throughout the year, causing the snow to accumulate rather than melt. The accumulation and compacting of snow by pressure eventually becomes glacial ice. Thus, sufficient moisture in the air and cold air are instrumental in the formation of glacier.

Continue Reading
Related Videos

Full Answer

A glacier is a large mass of ice floating in the sea next to a landform, such as a mountain or valley, or resting on land. Antarctica is considered a glacier because the vast ice sheet virtually covers the width of the land. The Baltoro Glacier and the Glacier National Park are two of types of large-scale glaciers. Other relatively smaller glaciers can be found on mountains, occupying bowl-shaped depressions or a valley in the mountain.

A glacier moves constantly, either by basal slip or by an internal flow called creeping. In a basal slip, the weight of the compacted snow causes a thin layer of ice to melt on the base of the glacier. The water acts as a lubricant and causes the glacier to slide downhill. Sliding glaciers often occur in temperate environments. In an internal flow, the extreme coldness of the glacier causes the individual ice crystal structures to deform and slip like a deck of piled cards. The rigid ice may also form cracks or crevasses that break the surface of the large mass of ice into smaller blocks. The flow of the glacial ice is highly driven by gravity, causing the slipping or creeping ice to move downward.

Learn more about Earth Science

Related Questions