How Glaciers Change the Landscape

Glaciers are the cold and artistic architects of the lay of many lands.

Most hills and valleys are carved by glaciers in the cooler regions of earth, and often the scenery includes lakes, peaks, rich soils in river valleys and more.

A glacier is a river flowing downhill. As the river of ice flows, it picks up huge amounts of rock, soil, and debris from anything in its path. For the most recent geologic past advancing and retreating glaciers have covered much of the northern hemisphere, and been responsible for environments that have largely driven human evolution toward agriculture and more.

Ridges, and rugged mountain peaks occur when all the debris carried along is deposited in what are known as moraines. There are many kinds of these “till piles.” These grow along with the edges of the glacier, for a lateral moraine, or at the end, or terminus, which results in a Terminal moraine. Recessional moraines are those piles of debris that do not reach to the farthest end a glacier reaches. Also carved out are deep and broad U shaped valleys, that river beds flow through.

Glaciers also add the rivers themselves, of course. Some glaciers are seasonal, and since the advent of climate change are quickly melting, and retreating. As seasonal warming comes, great rivers of the world, such as the ones below the Himalayas and all nations there will be greatly impacted by loss of this water source which serves about one sixth of all peoples of the world, as well as their food and economy.

Glaciers carve so much of the landscape, that together with volcanic action, they are responsible for the land as it is found today be it suited for forests, farming, or recreational wilderness that sustains all ecosystems of earth.

Dying glaciers include those in Greenland, elsewhere in Europe, in the Himalayas, Andes, and in the Rocky Mountains and Cascades. Not only are natural disasters a result, due to floods and famines, but most life on earth is greatly impacted by the decline in glaciers. Rising oceans, and ever increasing warming is the result, as much of the frozen areas on earth melt, and more methane now covered, is exposed.

Glaciers are impacted as earth temperatures continue to rise due to human consumption of fossil fuels, but glaciers also come and go on their own, given the fullness of time. Glaciers are of course of tremendous value to the earth, and to all living systems they create, but they are not something people should take for granted.