Glaciers are a sight to behold for the human eye. People’s imaginations are captivated, and they marvel at their greatness. Stories have been written about them, and their mysteriousness has grown. Scientifically, a glacier is a big mass of ice that was formed over the centuries. The word ‘glacier’ is French which was derived from the Latin word ‘glacies’ which means ‘ice.’ Glaciers are very important as they contribute significantly to the global cryosphere. There are many types of glaciers, namely; Alpine glaciers, valley glaciers, ice cap or ice fields, ice sheets or continental glaciers, and tidewater glaciers. It is also a fact that glacial ice is the world’s largest reservoir of fresh water that could support one-third of the world’s population.
Glacier Bay is located in Alaska. It is a part of the Glacier Bay Basin that consists of mountains and glaciers. It was designated a U.S. National Monument on February 25th, 1925, but on December 2, 1980, its scope was widened and it was made the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. It has a total area of 3,280,000 acres of which 57,000 acres were declared by UNESCO as part of the World Biosphere Reserve. The part that is Glacier Bay has a total area of 1,375 square miles of glaciers and is 27% of the Park’s total area. Glacier Bay is a very popular cruise destination every summer for many people.
Furtwangler Glacier is a type of mountain glacier located at Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. As of the year 2006, its total area was 60,000 square miles and a thickness of 6 meters. This glacier is just a small remnant of a large ice cap that used to be on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Between the years 1912 to 2000, 82% of the glacial ice has retreated, and over the last century no new ice has accumulated, and this could mean the end of the 11,700 years of climate variability in Africa. The disappearance of other glaciers in Africa and the fast retreat of Furtwangler Glacier would greatly affect tourism in Africa as well as the supply of fresh water to the springs and rivers surrounding it.
The Pasterze Glacier is located in Grossglockner, Austria and is Austria’s and the Eastern Alps’ longest glacier. It is a mountain glacier with a length of almost 8.4 kilometers as of 2002. Pasterze Glacier is also retreating quickly due to climate changes, and each year its length decreases at least 10 meters. Its exact location is in Hohe Tauern in Carinthia. Tourists may reach this glacier through the Grossglockner High Alpine Road or through a funicular railway. It is one of Austria’s tourist attractions.
Vatnajokull Glacier, or Vatna Glacier, is an ice cap type of glacier and is found in Iceland. It is the largest among the Icelandic glaciers, and its area is also the largest in all of Europe. The Vatna Glacier covers 8% of the total land area of Iceland. On June 7th, 2008, it was included as part of the Vatnajokull National Park. There are several volcanoes under this ice cap, and the volcanic lake Grimsvotn was the reason for the glacial lake’s outburst flood previously in 1996. Vatna Glacier has been used by Hollywood as the site for some films including the James Bond film A View to a Kill and HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Portage Glacier is another type of mountain glacier and is located in Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, United States, and is six miles in length. It is also a part of the Chugach National Forest. The glacier was named by Thomas Corwin Mendenhall of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1898. Centuries ago, the glacier stretched as far as 14 miles literally filling the entire Portage Valley. It also used to be connected to what are now five different glaciers. A visitor’s center was built in 1986 by the U.S. Forest Service to view the glacier, but today it is no longer visible, and to be able to see it, tourists are required to go on a boat ride.
The Sacagawea Glacier is a mountain type of glacier that has a length of 1.25 miles. It is located in the U.S. State of Wyoming east of the Continental Divide and north of the Wind River Range. It is also a part of the Fitzpatrick Wilderness of the Shoshone National Forest. Sacagawea Glacier is considered to be the largest glacier in the American Rocky Mountains and is 3,653 meters above sea level.
The Yulong Glacier is found in China’s Yunnan Province. It is part of the Yulong Mountain or Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The Yulong Glacier is also a primary source of fresh water for Western China. Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Yunnan Province to see the Yulong Glacier. Cable cars are available to take the tourists up to the mountain and down. Since it is 12,000 feet high, tourists often bring with them oxygen canisters to help them breathe at such a high altitude. Some Chinese scientists are afraid that in 50 years, Yulong Glacier will be gone due to the climate changes. Yulong Glacier has lost 800 feet in the last 20 years, and scientists believe that the rise in global temperatures is one of the major causes of the retreat not only of the Yulong Glacier but also of the other glaciers in Western China.
Mendenhall Glacier is one of the glaciers found in the Juneau Ice Field in Mendenhall Valley, U.S., State of Alaska. In 1888, it was named Auke Glacier in honor of the Tlingit Auk Kwaan band by naturalist John Muir. It was, however, renamed to its present name in 1891 in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall. It is a tourist attraction, and the U.S. Forest Service operates a visitor center as part of the Tongass National Forest.
Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier is found in Argentina specifically in the Los Glaciares National Park in the Santa Cruz province. It is also considered a major tourist destination in the Argentine Patagonia. Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the 48 glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, and this ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. This glacier has an area of 97 square miles of ice, and because of its large size, tourists can actually walk on it.
10. Pico Bolivar
Pico Bolivar is located in Venezuela and is the highest mountain of the country with a height of 4,978 meters. It is situated in Merida State and can only be reached by walking. Pico Bolivar’s peak is always covered by snow and is surrounded by three, small glaciers. The world’s highest cable car, which is the Merida Cable Car, can only reach Pico Espejo, and from there tourists have to walk to reach Pico Bolivar. Studies done in 2003 showed that glaciers in the area are disappearing, and it is predicted that in 2020 all glaciers in Venezuela will vanish, and it will become the first Andean nation without any glaciated areas.