Glacier recession

Worldwide, glaciers are shrinking and receding. In fact, glacier recession and thermal expansion of the ocean together account for 75% of today’s observed sea level rise. Glaciers are small and have short response times, so they react quickly to changes in air temperature and precipitation. Glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula are shrinking particularly rapidly, and this is exacerbated by ice shelf collapse.

This section summarises how glaciers are behaving and shrinking around the Antarctic Peninsula, in nearby Patagonia in South America, and more broadly around Antarctica.


In this video, I discuss global glacier change and the importance of glaciers for water resources and sea level rise. Suitable for A-Level and Undergraduate students (30 minutes long).

In this video, Prof. Mauri Pelto discusses the glacial recession of Gilkey Glacier on Juneau Icefield, Alaska.

Columbia Glacier, Alaska, is a World Reference Glacier and its recession has been monitored for several decades. You can see the glacier recession in the GIF below. This is a series of Landsat satellite images from 1986 to 2019. See here for more information.

Recession of Columbia Glacier, Alaska

Here is a video from Prof. Mauri Pelto with a timelapse of photographs of another glacier’s recession.