Cold Climate Key Words

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Calving Glacier
A glacier with a terminus that ends in a body of water into which it calves icebergs
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Cirque Glacier
A small glacier that forms within a cirque basin, generally high on the side of a mountain
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Hanging Glacier
A glacier that originates high on the wall of a glacier valley and descends only part of the way to the surface of the main glacier. Avalanching and icefalls are the mechanisms for ice and snow transfer to the valley floor below
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Ice Cap
A dome-shaped accumulation of glacier ice and perennial snow that completely covers a mountainous area or island, so that no peaks or Nunataks poke through.
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Ice Field
A continuous accumulation of snow and glacier ice that completely fills a mountain basin or covers a low-relief mountain plateau to a substantial depth. When the thickness become great enough, tongues of ice overflow the basins or plateaus as Valley
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Ice Sheet
A thick, subcontinental to continental-scale accumulation of glacier ice and perennial snow that spreads from a center of accumulation, typically in all directions. Also called a Continental Glacier.
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Piedmont Glacier
A fan or lobe-shaped glacier, located at the front of a mountain range. It forms when one or more valley glaciers flow from a confined valley onto a plain where it expands. The 30-mile wide Malaspina is the largest in Alaska.
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Polar Glacier .
A glacier with a thermal or temperature regime in which ice temperatures always remain below the freezing point.
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Reconstituted Glacier.
A glacier formed below the terminus of a hanging glacier by the accumulation, and reconstitution by pressure melting (regelation), of ice blocks that have fallen and/or avalanched from the terminus of the hanging glacier. Also called Glacier Remanie.
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Rock Glacier
A glacier-like landform, often heads in a cirque & consists of a valley-filling accumulation of angular rock blocks. Have little/no visible ice at the surface. Ice may fill the spaces between rock blocks. Some rock glaciers move v slowly.
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Temperate Glacier
A glacier with a or temperature-regime in which liquid water coexists with frozen water (glacier ice) during part or even all of the year.
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Tidewater Glacier
A Glacier with a terminus ending in a body of water influenced by tides (aka ocean) . Typically , tidewater glacier calve ice to produce icebergs.
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Valley Glacier
A Glacier that flows for all or most of its length within the walls of a mountain valley. Also called an Alpine Glacier or a Mountain Glacier
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The loss of ice and snow from a glacier system. This occurs through a variety of processes including melting and runoff, sublimation, evaporation, calving, and wind transportation of snow out of a glacier basin.
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Addition of ice/snow into a glacier syste, . Occurs through varierty of processess including precipitation , firnification and wind transporation of snow into a glacier basin from an adjacent area.
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Accumulation area.
Part of a glacier that is perennially covered with snow . Also called Neve
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An increase in the length of a glacier compared to a previous point in time. As ice in a glacier is always moving forward, a glacier's terminus advances when less ice is lost due to melting and/or 4 calving than the amount of yearly advance.
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A jagged, narrow ridge that separates two adjacent glacier valleys or cirques. The ridge frequently resembles the blade of a serrated knife. A French term referring to the bones in a fish backbone
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Barren Zone
An area of fresh, vegetation-free bedrock around the margin of a retreating glacier that documents the recent loss of ice.
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A single large crevasse/series of sub-parallel crevasses that develop at the head of a glacier. The location where ice pulls away from the bedrock wall of the cirque against which it accumulated. Winter-crevasse fills with snow. Spring-Reopens
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Bergy Seltzer
A crackling or sizzling similar to that made by soft drinks or seltzer water but louder. The sound made as air bubbles formed at many atmospheres of pressure are released during the melting of glacier ice. Also called Ice Sizzle.
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Braided Stream (Anastomizing Stream)
A stream that is characterized by a complex network of branches that continuously separate and reunite. Streams braid when they have a much greater sediment load than they can carry. Also called an Anastomosing Stream/
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The process by which pieces of ice break away from the terminus of a glacier that ends in a body of water or from the edge of a floating ice shelf that ends in the ocean. Once they enter the water, the pieces are called icebergs
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Chatter Marks
A series of small, closely spaced, crescentic grooves or scars formed in bedrock by rocks frozen in basal ice as they move along and chip the glacier's bed. The horns of the crescent generally point down glacier.
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A bowl-shaped, amphitheater-like depression eroded into the head or the side of a glacier valley. Typically, a cirque has a lip at its lower end.
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Corrugation ridge
Regular sets of small ridges, transverse to ice stream flow- commonly found in iceberg trackmarks on sea floor
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Crescentic Gouge
Any curved mark or fracture produced by plucking or chipping of the glacier's bed. Larger than chatter marks, typically the horns of these gouges point up glacier.
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A crack or series of cracks that open in the surface of a moving glacier in response to differential stresses caused by glacier flow. They range in shape from linear to arcuate, in length from feet to miles. Their orientation may be in any direction
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Debris Cone
A cone or mound of debris-covered ice, with a thick enough sediment cover to protect the ice from melting
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The study of tree rings and subfossil wood to provide information about the glacial and climatic history
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process through which large blocks of ice up to 1/2 miles wide deatch from retreating glacier which end in a body of water eg Berging Glacier -2/3 mile terminus retreat in a day/
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A tongue of glacier ice that flows away from the main trunk of the glacier. This may result from differential melting changing the gradient of part of a glacier
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The thinning of a glacier due to the melting of ice. This loss of thickness may occur in both moving and stagnant ice. Also called Thinning
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describe all types of glacier sedimentary deposits, regardless of the size/sorting. Includes all sediment that is transported by a glacier, whether it is deposited directly(glacier) or indirectly(running water) that originates from a glacier.
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An elongated ridge of glacial sediment sculpted by ice moving over the bed of a glacier. Generally, the down-glacier end is oval or rounded and the up-glacier end tapers. Although not common in alaska they cover parts east/west US
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A rock of any shape/size, transported a significant distance from its origin by a glacier/iceberg and deposited by melting of the ice. Erratics range in size and normally a different composition that the bedrock/sediment on which they are deposited.
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Meandering, water-deposited, often steep sediment ridge formed within a subglacial/englacial stream channel. Its floor can be bedrock, sediment, or ice. when glacier melts its exposed. often stratified sand/gravel.length(ft-mil) height: can be 100ft+
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Fluctuations in the worldwide sea-level regime caused by changes in the quantity of seawater available. The greatest changes are caused by water being added to, or removed from, glaciers
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An intermediate stage in the transformation of snow to glacier ice. Snow becomes firn when it has been compressed so that no pore space remains between flakes or crystals, a process that takes less than a year.
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Firn line
A line across the glacier, marks transition between exposed glacier ice (below) and the snow-covered glacier (right). During summer melt season, line migrates up-glacier. End of the melt season line separates the accumulation zone from ablation zone.
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Or fluted moriane . Elongate streamlined ridges of sediment produced beneath a glacier and aligned in the direct of ice flow. Smallest subglacial bedform. Typically parallel ridges cm to metres high and 10s metres long. Normally poorly preserved.
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A glacially eroded or modified U-shaped valley that extends below sea level and connects to the ocean. Filled with seawater, depths may reach more than 1,000 feet below sea level. The largest Alaskan fiords are more than 100 miles long and more than
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The layering or banding that develops in a glacier during the process of transformation of snow to 8 glacier ice. Individual layers, called folia, are visible because of differences in crystal or grain size, alternation of clear ice and bubbly ice,
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A glacial spring, generally discharging supercooled water with a significant hydrostatic head.
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Glacial Groove/Glacial Furrow
A linear depression, inches to miles in length, produced by the removal of rock or sediment by the erosive action of a glacier.
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Glacial Lake
An accumulation of standing liquid water on (supraglacial), in (englacial), or under (subglacial) a glacier
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Glacial Stream
A channelized accumulation of liquid water on (supraglacial), in (englacial), or under (subglacial) a glacier, moving under the influence of gravity.
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large, perennial accumulation of ice, snow, rock, sediment ,and liquid water originating on land-moving down slope under its own weight and gravity; a dynamic river of ice. Glaciers are classified by their size, location, and thermal regime.
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Glacier Cave
A cave formed in or under a glacier, typically by running water. Steam or high heat flow can also form glacier caves. Also called Ice Cave
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Glacier Flow
The movement of ice in a glacier, typically in a downward and outward direction, caused by the force of gravity. 'Normal' flow rates are in feet per day. 'Rapid' flow rates (i.e. surge) are in 10s or 100s of feet per day
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Glacier Ice
mono-mineralic type of rock, composed of crystals of the mineral ice, formed through 9 metamorphism of snowflakes. Metamorphism =recrystallization, increased density, and the growth of hexagonal crystals. This is majority of the mass glacier.
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Glacier Table
A rock that is balanced on a pedestal of ice, and elevated above the surface of a glacier. The rock protects the pedestal of ice from melting by insulating it from the sun
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Hanging Valley
A former tributary glacier valley that is incised into the upper part of a U-shaped glacier valley, higher than the floor of the main valley. Hanging valley streams often enter the main valley as waterfalls.
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The current part of geologic time. The Holocene epoch began ~12,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch
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A pointed, mountain peak, typically pyramidal in shape, bounded by the walls of three or more cirques. Headward erosion has cut prominent faces and ridges into the peak. When a peak has four symmetrical faces, it is called a Matterhorn
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Ice Rafting
The transportation of glacier sediment away from the ice margin by icebergs. Sediment transported by floating ice and deposited in the ocean is called glacial-marine sediment. Deposited in lakes, it is called glacial-lacustrine sediment
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Ice Shelf
The floating terminus of a glacier, typically formed when a terrestrial glacier flow into a deep water basin, such as in Antarctica and the Canadian Arctic
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A block of ice that has broken or calved from the face of a glacier and is floating in a body of marine of fresh water. Alaskan icebergs rarely exceed 500 feet in maximum dimension. In order of increasing size:Brash Ice, Growler, Bergy Bit
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Ice-Dammed Lake
A lake that exists because its water is restricted from flowing by an ice dam. Sometimes these lakes form because an advancing glacier had blocked a valley
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Part of a glacier where the ice flows over a bed with a very steep gradient, typically at a higher rate than both above and below. As a result the surface is fractured and heavily crevassed. In a river system, this would be a waterfall
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Ice-Marginal Lake
A lake that is located adjacent to the terminus of a glacier. Typically, these lakes form in bedrock basins scoured by the glacier. They enlarge as the glacier retreats. Sometimes they are dammed by an End or Recessional Moraine
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balance between changes within Earth's crust & mantle, where material is displaced in response to increase(isostatic depression)/decrease (isostatic rebound) in mass at any point on Earth's surface above. frequently caused by advance/retreat
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A glacier outburst flood resulting from the failure of a glacier-ice-dam, glacier-sediment-dam, or from the melting of glacier ice by a volcanic eruption (Icelandic)
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sand & gravel deposit formed by running water on stagnant/moving-glacier ice. Crevasse fills/crevasse ridges form within crevasses. Form on flat/inclined ice, in holes, or in cracks. A kame terrace forms between glacier and land surface
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depression formed in an outwash plain/other glacial deposit by the melting of an in-situ block of glacier ice that was separated from the retreating glacier-margin & subsequently buried by glacier sedimentation. Buried ice melts, depression enlarges
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Little Ice Age ( Neoglaciation)
The most recent interval of temperate glacier expansion and advance on Earth. It began ~650 years ago and continued into the 20th century in many locations. Temperate glaciers in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia were affected
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Mass Balance
A measure of the change in mass of a glacier at a certain point for a specific period of time. The balance between accumulation and ablation. Also called Mass Budget
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Mega-scale glacial lineations (MSGL)
elongate corrugations in sediment produced beneath an ice sheet similar to drumlins but larger. typically 6-70km long, 200-1300mlong & spacings of 300m-5km . Canada, Ireland, Scandinavia, West Antarctic Ice sheet
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A general term for unstratified and unsorted deposits of sediment that form through the direct action of, or contact with, glacier ice. Many different varieties are recognized on the basis of their position with respect to a glacier
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Ablation Moraine
An irregular-shaped layer or pile of glacier sediment formed by the melting of a block of stagnant ice. Ultimately, ablationa moraine is deposited on the former bed of the glacier. Also called Ablation Till.
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Ground Moraine
A blanket of glacier till deposited on all of the surfaces over which a glacier moves, typically by moving ice
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Ice-Cored Moraine
A moraine ridge consisting of a drape of sediment overlying a mass of stagnant ice.
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Lateral Moraine
A sediment ridge, located on a glacier's surface adjacent to the valley walls, extending down glacier to the terminus. It forms by the accumulation of rock material falling onto the glacier from the valley wall, rather than by water deposition
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Medial Moraine
A sediment ridge, located on a glacier's exposed ice surface, away from its valley walls, extending down glacier to the terminus. It forms by the joining of two lateral moraines when two glaciers merge
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Push Moraine
A ridge or pile of unstratified glacial sediment that is formed in front of the ice margin by the terminus of an advancing glacier, bulldozing sediment in its path
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Recessional Moraine
A ridge of glacial sediment that forms when the terminus of a retreating glacier remains at or near a single location for a period of time sufficient for a cross-valley accumulation to form
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Terminal Moraine
A cross-valley, ridge-like accumulation of glacial sediment that forms at the farthest point reached by the terminus of an advancing glacier. Also called an End Moraine.
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Moulin (Glacier Mill)
A narrow, tubular chute or crevasse through which water enters a glacier from the surface. Occasionally, the lower end of a moulin may be exposed in the face of a glacier or at the edge of a stagnant block of ice.
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A mountain peak or ridge that pokes through the surface of an Ice Field or a Glacier. It may separate adjacent Valley Glaciers (Greenlandic).
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An arcuate, convex, down-glacier-pointing band/undulation that forms on surface of a glacier at base of an icefall. 2 types of ogives occur: wave ogives, which are undulations of varying height & band ogives, which are alternating colored bands
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Outwash plain
Broad, low-slope angle alluvial plain made of glacially eroded/sorted sediment(outwash) that has been transported by meltwater. Alluvial plain begins at the foot of glacier and can extend for miles. Sediment finer further from glacier terminus.
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Pit pond
A depression in an outwash plain by the melting of a block of ice floated to its depositional site by meltwater and subsequently buried by sediment. As it melts, a depression in the surface of the outwash plain develops
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The epoch of geologic time, informally 'The Great Ice Age' or 'Glacial Epoch', . Began ~1.8 million years ago & ended ~8,000 years ago . During time continental glaciers repeatedly formed & covered signi parts of the Earth's surface. H+ P=Q
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Mechanical removal pieces of rock from bedrock face thats in contact with glacier ice. Blocks are quarried & prepared for removal by freezing/thawing of water in cracks, joints, & fractures. Resulting pieces frozen into the glacier ice & transported
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An isolated melting mass of glacier ice, that has become detached from its source and the remainder of the glacier. Some remnants cover many square miles
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Decrease in length of a glacier compared to a previous time. As ice in a glacier is always moving forward, its terminus retreats when more ice is lost at the terminus to melting and/or calving than reaches terminus.
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Roche Moutonnee
An elongated, rounded, asymmetrical, bedrock knob produced by glacier erosion. It has a gentle slope on its up-glacier side and a steep- to vertical-face on the down-glacier side.
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Several landslides generated by the Great Alaskan Earthquake, Good Friday 1964, fell onto the surface of the so-named glacierin the Chugach Mountains, Alaska
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Rock Flour
Fine-grained, silt-size sediment formed by the mechanical erosion of bedrock at the base & sides of a glacier by moving ice. When it enters a stream, it turns the stream's color brown, gray, iridescent blue-green, or milky white. Glacier Flour
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A jagged pinnacle or tower of glacier ice located on the surface of a glacier, formed as a glacier flows down an icefall or by the intersection of crevasses. Frequently, large areas of a glacier will be covered by séracs.
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A mass of snow that has accumulated in the top of an open crevasse, masking the existence of the crevasse. Frequently, a large void exists below the snowbridge
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The in-situ melting of glacier ice. Many glaciers have stagnant termini, covered by thick sediment debris. Some support vegetation, including mature forests
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Multiple, generally parallel, linear grooves, carved by rocks frozen in the bed of a glacier into the bedrock over which it flows.
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A series of bowl-like depression melted into a snow or ice surface, separated by a network of connected ridges. Individual suncups may be more than three feet deep and ten feet in diameter. Suncups form during warm, sunny conditions.
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A lake that develops in the basin of a cirque, generally after the melting of the glacier.
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The lower-most margin, end, or extremity of a glacier. Also called Toe, End or Snout.
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Unsorted & unstratified accumulation of glacial sediment, deposited directly by glacier ice. Till is heterogeneous mixture of dif sized material deposited by moving ice (lodgement till) or by the melting in-place of stagnant ice (ablation till) .
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clear boundary line on wall of glacier valley that delineates the max recent thickness of a glacier. May be change in color of bedrock, indicating the separation of weathered--unweathered bedrock; limit of former lateral moriane or other sedi deposit
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U-Shaped Valley
A valley with a parabolic or "U" shaped cross-section, steep walls and generally a broad and flat floor. Formed by glacier erosion, a U-shaped valley results when a glacier widens and over-steepens a V-shaped stream valley
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Pair of sedimentary layers, form in annual cycle, result of seasonal weather changes. Typically formed in glacial lakes, consists of a coarser grained summer layer (open water) and finer grained winter lay (deposition)
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Card 2


A small glacier that forms within a cirque basin, generally high on the side of a mountain


Cirque Glacier

Card 3


A glacier that originates high on the wall of a glacier valley and descends only part of the way to the surface of the main glacier. Avalanching and icefalls are the mechanisms for ice and snow transfer to the valley floor below


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Card 4


A dome-shaped accumulation of glacier ice and perennial snow that completely covers a mountainous area or island, so that no peaks or Nunataks poke through.


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Card 5


A continuous accumulation of snow and glacier ice that completely fills a mountain basin or covers a low-relief mountain plateau to a substantial depth. When the thickness become great enough, tongues of ice overflow the basins or plateaus as Valley


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