At a Glance: Types of Glaciers

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This video explains that nearly all of the freshwater ice on Earth (99%) is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory.

All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA except:
·       Photo of Tasman Lake in New Zealand courtesy of Wikimedia user Avenue
·       Sea creature illustration copyright The National Library of Israel, Shapell Family Digitization Project _and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Geography – Historic Cities Research Project
·       Athabasca Glacier photo courtesy of Lucy Albert
·       Snowflake photos by Wilson A. Bentley
·       Electron-microscope image of a snowflake from the Electron Microscopy Unit, _Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture
·       Photo of snow-covered field courtesy of Emmanuel Boutet
·       Photo of melt pools from the collection of Dr. Pablo Clemente-Colon, Chief Scientist, National Ice Center
·       Photo of snow crystals courtesy of Alex Bakharev
·       Photo of ice crystals courtesy of Petr Dlouhý
·       Photo of Mt. Kilimanjaro’s southern ice field courtesy of Wikimedia user Chris 73 / Wikipedia Commons
·       Larsen B Ice Shelf images courtesy of Ted Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center, _University of Colorado, Boulder, based on data from MODIS
·       Statue of Liberty illustration courtesy of
·       Photo of boat in front of Eqip Sermia Glacier courtesy of Michele Koppes, University of British Columbia
·       Bear Glacier IKONOS image courtesy of DigitalGlobe
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music
Written by Andrea Gianopoulos
Designed by Marc Lussier

An animation of Earth in a star-filled sky. Text, at-a-GLANCE, Glaciers
Three basic types of glaciers are alpine glaciers, piedmont glaciers, and continental glaciers.
Piedmont Glacier, Malaspina Glacier, Alaska, Continental Glacier, Greenland Ice Sheet, Alpine Glacier, Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland. Alpine glaciers are streams of ice that can fill the valleys of mountainous regions.
Alpine Glacier, Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland. They are named for the glaciers first observed in the European Alps.
Alpine glaciers are nourished by snowfall high on their host mountain's flank.
When alpine glaciers reach the relatively flat plains below their host mountains, they can spill out onto the plains to form piedmont glaciers.
Piedmont Glacier, Malaspina Glacier, Alaska. Malaspina Glacier is a typical piedmont glacier. It covers more than 3,100 square miles of the Alaskan coastal plain.
Continental Glacier, Greenland Ice Sheet. Continental glaciers, sometimes called ice sheets, are huge masses of glacial ice that's spread radially under their own weight.
During the last ice age, ice sheets covered 32% of Earth's land surface, including most of North America and Scandinavia.
Today, only Greenland and Antarctica hold ice sheets.
Nearly all of the freshwater ice on Earth (99%) is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
The Greenland ice sheet is three times the size of Texas -- extending 656,000 square miles – and is nearly 2 miles thick near its center.
The Antarctic ice sheet has covered the underlined continent for the past 40 million years.
It flows over 5.8 million square miles and is nearly 3 miles thick in some places. Ronne Ice Shelf, Ross Ice Shelf
When an ice sheet extends over and floats on an ocean or sea, it is called an ice shelf.