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
Geographic Area Sum of glacier area, km2
Norway 2783.32
Canada 40068.6
Alaska 22208.2
Conterminous USA 683.023
Sweden 264.475
China 320053
New Zealand 353.754
Southwestern Asia (Pakistan + Afghanistan) 709.904
S. European Alps 912.667
Himalaya (India, Nepal, Bhutan) 47309.6
Tropical glaciers 968.549
West Antarctica 165079
Russian Glaciers (exact boundaries of RC to be defined) 1690.71
Russian and former Soviet Union glaciers 500.256
Antarctic Peninsula 26449.8
Svalbard, Jan Mayen, and Bouvet 33841
Chilean glaciers, between -18 and -56 degrees latitude 3973.68
Iceland 11058.2
Iran 40.2521
Kerguelen Island 1242.77
Argentina 7488.64
Turkey 11.5312
Mongolia 1233.21
Swiss Alps 5480.55
Italian Alps 5.60736
French Alps 1288
Austrian Alps 2821.99
Asia 100709
Central Asia 133.244
Caucausus Region 4351.91
Siberian Mountains 7285.15
Antarctic Peninsula 95272.6
Olympic Peninsula 25.787
Italy 368.32
Chile 249.423
East Central Greenland 55008.2
Northern Cordillera 26891
Northern Siberia 12.0289
Irian Jaya 4.47097
Northeast Greenland 1160.96
Khumbu Area 6122.1
Various (GlobGlacier) 81366.3
Chilean Norte Chico (25 to 32 degrees south latitude) 20.8401
Antarctic Peninsula 100845
Swiss Alps 3030.84
Mainland Norway 51591.5
Svalbard 47108.4
Irian Jaya 27.3459
Coropuna, Peru 922.525
Bolivia 6.34029
Various (NSIDC) 33209.6
Randolph Glacier Inventory; Umbrella RC for merging the RGI into GLIMS 351562
Figures from the Randolph Glacier Inventory 6.0, last updated 27 July 2018.

Last updated: 16 March 2020