FAQs

Why and how have glaciers in Antartica come into existence?

Asked by Marie Glaciers began in Antarctica around 35 million years ago during a period of cooling climates. As the Antarctic continent drifted south, the Drake Passage opened, allowing the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to become established. This current effectively isolated Antarctica from heat transfer from further north, resulting in cooling. So, with its drift southwards … Read more

What is currently happening to the glaciers in Antarctica?

Asked by Julianna Most of the glaciers in Antarctica are currently shrinking. Around 87 % of the glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula are in recession, and glaciers at the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula are currently shrinking rapidly. You can read more about this in this Blog Post. In West Antarctica, Pine Island Glacier … Read more

Do all glaciers have lakes beneath them?

Asked by Alan This is a very interesting question and the subject of much ongoing research. The current hypothesis is that most major ice sheets had lakes beneath them, and current work is attempting to find evidence of these in the geological record, for example, underneath the last British-Irish Ice Sheet. In terms of smaller … Read more

What is a glacier surge?

Asked by Norma Surge-type glaciers are characterised by flow instabilities, with periods of fast flow followed by long quiescent periods. They are slow moving during their quiescent phases, when they thin and melt in their lower reaches, but accumulate snow and ice in their upper parts. The surge typically lasts 1-10 years, with quiescent phases … Read more

What is subglacial deformation?

Asked by Clare As glaciers flow over soft sediments, the movement of the ice above results in the sediments below being ground down and dragged along the direction of flow. See Glacial Processes for more information.

How do moraines form?

Asked by Clare Glaciers incorporate rocks and sediments into their basal ice layers as they flow over the ground. At the end of the glacier, this sediment is deposited by the constantly moving ice. See Glacial Landforms for more information.

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