Which are the fastest and slowest moving glaciers on Earth?

Asked by Suman

Jakobshavn Isbrae in Greenland is generally considered to be the fastest glacier in the world, with speeds of up to 40 metres per day. Many glaciers in Greenland and in the Antarctic Peninsula are accelerating, which is generally attributed to warmer conditions and more meltwater lubricating the bed of the glacier. Jakobshavn Isbrae is an ice stream, which means that it is very large, drains a large proportion of the ice sheet, and flows very quickly. Look at the table to see the velocities measured for some of the fastest glaciers in the world.

Glacier Glacier type Location Speed Date measured
Jakobshavn Isbrae Ice stream Greenland Ice Sheet 12600 m per year 2003
Pine Island Glacier Ice stream West Antarctica 2075 m per year 2007-2008
Fox Glacier (seracs in upper ice fall) Valley glacier New Zealand 182 m per year 1991

The slowest glaciers in the world are cold-based glaciers, which often only move very slowly. These glaciers are frozen to their bed and have little basal sliding. The velocity and flow of a glacier is mostly controlled by its thermal regime. 

17 thoughts on “Which are the fastest and slowest moving glaciers on Earth?”

  1. David Fairley

    I’m interested in how much faster these glaciers are moving because of global warming. People keep using the term “glacial pace,” but maybe it’s out of date.

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