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Glaciers: Continental

  • By: Todd Albert
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The term glacier originates from the Latin word glacies, meaning “ice,” and refers to any body of perennial ice originating on land through the densification and recrystallization of snow that is massive enough to be flowing under its own weight. Generally, glaciers form in areas where the annual accumulation of snow, through precipitation and deposition, is greater than the annual mass loss due to melting, sublimation, and the calving of icebergs at the glacier margin. Glaciers provide important stores of water to more than 40% of the world's population, maintain the temperature of the planet through a high albedo (they reflect sunlight back to space), and, in the case of the largest bodies of ice, even affect local and regional climate.

Glaciers form where the snow ...

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