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Where are glaciers located?
Most of the world's glacial ice is found in Antarctica and Greenland, but glaciers are found on nearly every continent, even Africa. Because certain climatic and geographic conditions must be present for glaciers to exist, they are most commonly found above snow line: regions of high snowfall in winter, and cool temperatures in summer. This condition allows more snow to accumulate on the glacier in the winter than will melt from it in the summer. This is why most glaciers are found either in mountainous areas or the polar regions. However, snow line occurs at different altitudes: in Washington State the snow line is around 1,600 meters (5,500 feet), while in Africa it is over 5,100 meters (16,732 feet), and in Antarctica it is at sea level. The amount of snowfall a glacier receives is very important to its survival, which is why some cold regions, like Siberia, have almost no glaciation—there is not enough snowfall.
Approximate worldwide area covered by glaciers
|New Guinea||3 square kilometers (1.16 square miles )|
|Africa||6 square kilometers (2.23 square miles )|
|New Zealand||1,600 square kilometers (617 square miles)|
|Scandinavia||2,940 square kilometers (1,135 square miles)|
|Central Europe||3,785 square kilometers (1,416 square miles)|
|South America||25,500 square kilometers (9,846 square miles)|
|Northern Asia||59,600 square kilometers (23,012 square miles)|
|Antarctica (not including the main ice sheets)||77,000 square kilometers (29,730 square miles)|
|Central Asia||114,800 square kilometers (44,325 square miles)|
|North America||124,000 square kilometers (47,877 square miles)|
|Arctic Islands (not including the Greenland Ice Sheet)||275,500 square kilometers (106,371 square miles)|
|These measurements were compiled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, and published in the 2008 publication, Global Glacier Changes: facts and figures.|
NSIDC's Glacier Glossary - Search and browse terms related to glaciers in NSIDC's comprehensive cryospheric glossary.
NSIDC Glacier Photograph Collection - NSIDC archives a Glacier Photograph Collection of historical photos, which includes both aerial and terrestrial photos for the 1880s to 1975. The photos are primarily of Alaskan glaciers, but coverage also includes the Pacific Northwest and Europe.