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The term “temperate glacier” originally derives from the geographic classification of glaciers along with tropical, polar, maritime, and so on. While that definition has some currency at the time of this writing, a more nuanced and commonly used definition is that of a glacier that is a “warm glacier” – a glacier that is at its melting temperature throughout except for a seasonal skin effect. This thermal definition of “temperate” is much more descriptive of the glacier than one that defines its geographic zone.
The thermal definition of “temperate glacier” implies the presence of water. If the glacier is at its melting temperature throughout the ice mass then much of its mass loss is through melting. Furthermore, the melt water can be routed through the “warm” body of the glacier, via crevasses and moulins, with minimal freezing, to reach the glacier bed where it is in contact with the substrate of bedrock or sediment. The presence of water at the bed can reach large pressures, often...