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Glaciers are thick masses of ice that originate on land from the accumulation, compaction, and recrystallization of snow. Glaciers make up the cryosphere, the frozen part of the hydrosphere. The frozen water is temporarily removed from the hydrologic cycle. Glaciers occur more commonly at places on earth where temperatures are such that the glacial ice remains frozen during a sufficient part of the year, preventing the glacier from melting completely. These cold places occur at high elevations and at high latitudes.

Glaciers fall into two broad categories: alpine or valley glaciers; and continental glaciers, ice sheets or ice caps. Alpine glaciers occur at high elevations, on mountain tops. Continental glaciers occur at high latitudes, close to the poles. Alpine and continental glaciers are actually two ends ...

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