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1 Defining and locating Cold Environments
Enquiry Question: What are Cold Environments and where are they found?
Types of Cold Environment
Glacial Alpine at High Altitude Glacial Polar at High Latitude Periglacial
Alps Ice sheets At, or near, glacial areas.
Himalayas Glaciers Mean annual temperatures are below 3oC.
Tibetan Plateau Greenland Where permafrost and freeze thaw cycles
Rocky Mtns. Antarctica prevail.
Andes Patagonia Alaska
Coastal fringes of Antarctica
The locations of cold environments have changed through Geological time.
Relict cold environments are places with evidence of cold conditions. E.g. Southern England, 11,000 yrs
ago in the Quaternary Period.
Active cold environments continue to experience low temperatures.
Last Ice Age; ice covered most of Britain, as far South as the Seven Thames line. In some places ice was over
1,000 miles thick. From 1.7 million years to 10,000 years BP, the Ice Age consisted of a series of advances and
We are currently in an interglacial period.
How do Glaciers differ?
Polar Glaciers are landscapes of glaciers and ice sheets. The ice remains frozen at the base; little water
movement and minimal erosion. Polar glaciers never rise above 0oC and therefore only advance a few metres per
year. E.g. Antarctica. (High Latitude.)
Temperate/Alpine Glaciers are warm based glaciers. Water is present throughout the ice mass, acting as a
lubricant, allowing ice to move freely and erodes the rock. Pressure generates heat, creating meltwater that
percolates down through the ice to be released from the underlying bedrock. Temperate glaciers have velocities
of between 20m and 200m p.a. but can reach speeds of 1000m p.a. E.g. Alps