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.

Randolph Glacier Inventory global map
Glaciers occur predominantly in high-latitude and high-altitude regions. This map, from the Randolph Glacier Inventory shows glacier locations across the globe. Note that, at this scale, glacial areas are exaggerated, and national capitals are also highlighted. –Credit Randolph Glacier Inventory, GLIMS
Randolph Glacier Inventory map of Alaska
This map, from the Randolph Glacier Inventory shows glacier locations across Alaska. Yellow dots outlined in red indicate glaciers featured in NSIDC's glacier photograph collection. Teal dots indicate glaciers included in the World Glacier Inventory. –Credit Randolph Glacier Inventory, GLIMS. Figures from the Randolph Glacier Inventory 6.0, last updated 27 July 2018.

Summary Statistics by GTN-G Region

Data source for table:The Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G) coordinates global satellite observations of glaciers.

GTN-G region Region Name Glacier area, km2
1 Alaska 98531.7
2 Western Canada and USA 14380.4
3 Arctic Canada, North 111589
4 Arctic Canada, South 40888.2
5 Greenland Periphery 184729
6 Iceland 21999.7
7 Svalbard and Jan Mayen 35031.1
8 Scandinavia 2944.89
9 Russian Arctic 55700.5
10 Asia, North 2930.66
11 Central Europe 2763.42
12 Caucasus and Middle East 1433.38
13 Asia, Central 87228.8
14 Asia, South West 34106.3
15 Asia, South East 25117
16 Low Latitudes 2471.15
17 Southern Andes 34669
18 New Zealand 1134.29
19 Antarctic and Subantarctic 380941

Last updated: 16 March 2020