Glacier

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9213-9_472-1

Definition

Accumulated ice mass that slowly creeps on the surface.

Description

On Earth a glacier is “a perennial mass of ice, and possibly firn and snow, originating on the land surface by the recrystallization of snow or other forms of solid precipitation and showing evidence of past or present flow” (Cogley et al. 2011).

Processes and Control

A glacier erodes the underlying surface by abrasion, scouring, plucking, ice thrusting, and spalling. Erosion efficiency is dependent on conditions at the glacier base, including ice velocity and pressure, thermal conditions, amount of water, and underlying surface characteristics. Eroded materials are mostly incorporated in the glacier and deposited later as till, glacial erratics or dropstones, or outwash sediments.

Subtypes

For a detailed classification system, refer to Rau et al. (2005).

Subtypes Based on Relief and Extent

  1. (1)
    Large plateau-like glaciers:
    1. (1.1)
      Ice sheet (also called continental glacier): ice covering that obscures the...

Keywords

Ground Moraine Lateral Moraine Mountain Glacier Rock Glacier Glacier Tongue 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth and Space Physics, Department of PhysicsUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Department of Physical GeographyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary