Glacial Landforms Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Farrell

Jen has taught Science in accredited schools in North & South America for thirteen years and has a degree in Sociology (Epidemiology & Aids Research).

Grab a warm jacket and some mittens as we journey to the frigid regions of the Earth to investigate how glaciers form and discover the amazing new landforms they create.

Glaciers

Have you ever imagined swimming in a river of ice on a sizzling summer day? Guess what? They actually exist! They are called glaciers. A glacier (pronounced 'glay-SHer') is a ginormous piece of ice that moves very slowly over land. These rivers of ice are so large, they hold more than half of the fresh water found on our planet.

How do Glaciers Form?

Glaciers form in areas where snow gathers faster than it melts. Years go by and the heavy snow on top pushes down and causes some of the snow at the bottom to melt. The melted snow refreezes as ice due to the cold temperatures outside. The ice grows and the large block begins to move. This movement is called regelation. Millions of years ago, glaciers began moving and made drastic changes to the land.

Glacial Landforms

Water, wind, gravity, and ice can all change the land by a process known as erosion. Glaciers collect and drag large rocks, as well as, other material across the land. This movement leaves scratches and large trenches in the ground. The glacier deposits the material in new places, resulting in new geographical features and landforms. Let's take a look at common glacial landforms and how they formed.

Fjord

(Pronounced 'fyord') A long, narrow area of the sea that stretches far inland between mountain cliffs. Fjords are created when glaciers carve U-shaped valleys and the sea moves in to cover the valley floor.

A fjord is a glacial landform common in Norway.
Fjord

Cirque

(Pronounced 'serk') A half-bowl shape along the side of a mountain that has been carved out by the base of a glacier. A cirque looks like someone tried to scoop out the side of the mountain like they would scoop ice cream from its container.

Horn

A sharp, pointy peak that forms when several cirques collide upon the summit of one mountain. The Matterhorn, on the border of Italy and Switzerland, is one of the most famous examples of a horn.

Arête

(Pronounced 'uh-rate') Forms when two neighboring glaciers erode opposite side of a rock, making a steep ridge down into a sharp knife-like point.

Hanging Valley

A valley high above another valley, which usually has a high cliff connecting to the valley below. Typically created by smaller glaciers that join together with larger glaciers, further down the mountain.

Waterfalls are often found in hanging valleys.
hanging valley

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