With their endless expanses of snow, blue ice, and crystal clear surfaces, glaciers are an incredibly breathtaking natural wonder. If you’re looking for a less poetic way to describe them, these astonishing bodies of icy mass are essentially large bodies of ice formed over centuries, when the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation (melting and sublimation).
A combination of weight and gravity cause the glacier to deform and move, also creating crevasses, seracs, and other distinguishing features. At least 48 countries worldwide are said to contain glaciers, here are five of the most impressive ones.
Stunning Glaciers: Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan
At 62 kilometers long, the Baltoro Glacier is one of the largest glaciers outside the polar regions (the frigid zones surrounding the Earth’s poles). The melting water from the glacier creates the area’s Shigar river.
The Baltoro Glacier is located next to another fantastic display of frigidity, the Godwin-Austen Glacier. And to add to Baltoro’s already impressive resume, the world’s second largest mountain, K2 (8611 meters high), can be found where the two monumental glaciers intersect.
Jostedalsbreen Glacier, Norway
The Jostedalsbreen Glacier, or Jostedal Glacier, is located in southern Norway and boasts the title of the largest glacier in continental Europe. 60 kilometers in length, Jostedal is 600 meters (almost two-fifths of a mile) at its thickest point.
Like many glaciers worldwide, Jostedalsbreen Glacier has been melting more rapidly in recent years. In 2006, one glacier arm melted an incredible 50 meters within a matter of months. Due to the melting, ice climbing, a popular attraction in the area, has been halted.