Ice Sheets and Glaciers
How long does the snow in your backyard last? A few days? A few weeks? High in the mountains – or in very cold places – the snow never melts completely away. New snow falls on the old snow, turning it to heavy blue ice. The layers of ice build up, forming glaciers.
In warmer areas, glaciers move slowly downhill, melting as they go or moving into seas or lakes. As the glaciers move, they carve out valleys and even break rocks down into rubble.
Fun Facts About Ice Sheets and Glaciers for Kids
- Glaciers never melt in cold areas, but the ice builds up year after year to form huge ice sheets.
- The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is 2.8 miles thick. Cliffs made of ice in Antarctica can be up to 160 feet high.
- Sometimes the ice sheets extend over the sea.
- Water from glaciers sometimes melts, carving beautiful, slippery caves of blue ice beneath the glacier. These ice caves are amazing, but incredibly unstable and dangerous.
- At the front of a glacier is usually a pile of rubble, known as a moraine. The rubble comes from rocks that are broken by the glacier’s weight.
Ice Sheets and Glaciers Vocabulary
- Glacier: a heavy sheet of moving ice
- Ice sheet: Sheets of ice that build up and never melt in very cold climates, such as Antarctica and Greenland.
- Rubble: pile of debris
- Unstable: unpredictable
- Moraine: rubble formed in a glacier’s path
All About Ice Sheets and Glaciers Video for Kids
This is the best video we found for kids to learn about Ice Sheets and Glaciers:
Ice Sheets and Glaciers Q&A
Question: Are glaciers shrinking?
Answer: Climate change is nothing new. Scientists now know that the Earth has gone through several cooling and warming periods before. But glaciers appear to be melting rapidly, probably, in part, because of human activity. Burning coal, oil and gasoline damages the atmosphere and traps the heat. As the glaciers melt, sea water rises. This warming trend may cause weather changes and flooding.
Question: What are icebergs?
Answer: Icebergs occur when a glacier flows to the ocean and chunks of the glacier break off into the sea. Glaciers can be huge – stretching hundreds of miles across. They are beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. In 1912, 1,503 people died when the Titanic, a huge, luxury ocean liner, collided with an iceberg. The iceberg tore a hole almost 300 feet long in the side of the ship, sinking it within two hours.
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