What are glaciers?A glacier is a moving body of ice. Glaciers can be made up of warm ice, or cold ice; warm ice is at or above the pressure melting point, cold ice is below it. In a paper on glaciers by the University of Illinois, warm ice glaciers move faster on their meltwater.
How are they formed?
Glacier ice is formed by the accumulation of snow and ice until the force of gravity deforms the ice and gives it a plasticity that allows it to begin moving, however slowly. Our Earth has been sculpted by glacier ice, and at one time, a third of the surface was covered by ice. In modern times, only ten percent of the surface is covered by ice, but that ice contains up to seventy percent of the world’s fresh water supply.
What is the effect of pollution on the amount of glaciers?
Pollution has little direct affect on most glaciers, but “brown clouds” in Asia may affect glacier ice in the Himalayas. The clouds are made of particulates, which lower the albedo of the ice, allowing it to absorb more warmth from the sun and leading to increased melting. Not only could this cause flooding downstream, washing pollution into major rivers, but in the long run could reduce drinking water available to some of the most heavily populated areas in the world.
Can we get fresh water from glaciers?
Glacier ice is a leading source of fresh drinking water for much of the world. Water isn’t collected from the glacier itself, but from the flow of melt water from the ice mass. That fresh water is released to flow toward the ocean, and people capture some of it for use in drinking and irrigation.
Do glaciers collect pollution?
Recent studies show that glacier ice may lock organic pollutants within and release it when melting. Lakes that are monitored for the presence of certain substances showed a sharp decrease in pollution due to control of the environment in the 1990s and now are on the increase. Scientists believe that pollutants became trapped into the ice and are now being released.
Does the reduction of glaciers effect any species? How?
Many species of animals that are on the rare or endangered list may be in danger of extinction due to glacier ice retreat. Not by the destruction of habitat, but by the increase of their range. According to a recent article in the LA Times, the interbreeding of many species could lead to the destruction of individual species in the creation of hybrids.