Glacier Classification Essay


1.            Bennett, M.R., 2003. Ice streams as the arteries of an ice sheet: their mechanics, stability and significance. Earth-Science Reviews, 2003. 61(3-4): p. 309-339.

2.              Hambrey, M.J. and Fitzsimons, S.J., 2010. Development of sediment-landform associations at cold glacier margins, Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Sedimentology, 2010. 57: p. 857-882.

3.              Bindschadler, R., Choi, H., Wichlaez, A., Bingham, R.G., Bohlander, J., Brunt, K.M., Corr, H., Drews, R., Fricker, H.A., Hall, M., Hindmarsh, R.C.A., Kohler, J., Padman, L., Rack, W., Rotschky, G., Urbini, S., Vornberger, P., and Young, N., 2011. Getting around Antarctica: new high-resolution mappings of the grounded and freely-floating boundaries of the Antarctic ice sheet created for the International Polar Year. The Cryosphere, 2011. 5: p. 569-588.

4.              Rau, F., Mauz, F., Vogt, S., Khalsa, S.J.S., and Raup, B., 2005. Illustrated GLIMS Glacier Classification Manual, Version 1.0. 2005, GLIMS Regional Centre, ‘Antarctic Peninsula’: GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurement from Space), NSIDC. 36.

Many piedmonts can form in the same area, especially when that area is a long, flat-bottomed valley.

Glaciers are also classified by their geographic location as ice sheets, ice shelves, ice caps, mountain glaciers, valley glaciers, piedmont glaciers, cirque glaciers, hanging glaciers, and tidewater glaciers. Each of these types of glaciers has unique characteristics. Ice sheets are the massively thick glaciers that covered much of the planet during the Ice Age. They occupy broad areas of gentle terrain, but sometimes grow so thick that they cover the underlying features. Ice sheets generally flow outwards in all directions from a central accumulation zone. A modern example is the Antarctic ice sheet. Ice shelves are simply the floating sections of ice sheets – Greenland and Ellesmere Island have a number of such floating ice shelves. Smaller ice sheets which are restricted to mountain plateaus, are known as ice caps, such as the Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island. These sheets, in turn, give rise to ice streams, or outlet glaciers, which flow down the valleys between the rocky peaks. From the air, these ice streams look very similar to river drainage systems. If an ice stream from a mountainous area dumps onto a wide, flat plain, rather than the ocean, a broad lobate form of glacier known as a piedmont develops. Cirque glaciers are found high on mountainsides and tend to occupy bowl-like hollows. Also called ice aprons, hanging glaciers cling to steep mountainsides. Like cirque glaciers, they are wider than they are long. Hanging glaciers are common in the Alps, but not in the Arctic, because mountain ranges are steeper. As their name implies, tidewater glaciers are valley glaciers that flow far enough to reach the sea. They are responsible for calving numerous small icebergs.

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