Glacier Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Grace Miller

Mary Grace has taught first grade for 8 years and has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and is licensed in ESL.

From Glacier National Park in Montana to the large ice sheets of the Arctic, glaciers abound throughout the Earth. These giant ice sheets have been around for thousands of years. Find out more about the types, sizes, and formations of glaciers.

What Are Glaciers?

Glaciers are huge blocks of ice and snow that are found in mountains and in colder regions. Many are left over from the last ice age, which means they are thousands of years old. Glaciers often appear to be bright blue in places. This is because the ice is compacted so tightly.

How Are Glaciers Formed?

Glaciers are formed over thousands of years. They begin in places that have snow all year long. When it begins to snow again, some snowflakes melt and then are frozen into ice. Layers of ice and snow start to build up and press together. These layers of snow and ice are called glaciers.

A glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

They can slide and move, so they can be dangerous to plants and animals that get in their way.

Where Are Glaciers Found?

Glaciers can be found on every continent except Australia, so they are found in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Antarctica. They are found in the coldest parts of these continents, usually where there are mountains or in the northern regions. Did you know that you can find glaciers in 47 different countries? Even so, most of the glaciers in the world, about 99% of them, can be found in Antarctica and the country of Greenland.

This glacier is in Greenland.

Glaciers cover about 10% of the Earth's surface, but during the last ice age they covered about one-third of the earth. The world's smallest glacier is about the length of a football field, and the largest glacier is the Lambert Glacier in Antarctica. It is a mile and a half deep and almost 250 miles long.

What Kinds of Glaciers Are There?

There are two main kinds of glaciers: alpine glaciers and continental glaciers. Alpine means in the mountains, so alpine glaciers are found high up in the mountains where it is cold. Alpine glaciers often move down through valleys. Alpine glaciers can even be found on mountains right near the equator - that's because they are very high up, where it's cold.

The Allen glacier is an alpine glacier in the Chugach Mountains of southern Alaksa.

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