Did you ever wonder what it really takes to make a glacier? When you go on a CTE Tour to the Canadian Rockies your Tour Director will point out many kinds of glaciers from hanging glaciers to outlet valley glaciers and more. Best part, after learning and seeing the many kinds of glaciers in the Rockies, you will be able to stand on one and truly experience this memory of a lifetime.
What makes a glacier? They are truly massive and incredibly powerful, but they start by being formed by small snowflakes. Imagine how many snowflakes it must take to make a glacier. These snowflakes will gradually change into glacier ice over time, pending temperatures and weather conditions.
- Snowfall on a glacier is the first step in the formation of glacier ice.
- As snow builds up, gravity puts weight on the snowflakes and they are packed into grains.
- The weight of the overlying snow causes the grains below to become coarser and larger. (Fresh snow is about 90 percent air.)
- Melted snow quickly refreezes forming ice. How the snow changes and how much time it takes to develop into glacier ice depends on the temperature.
In an area where there is more snowfall than summer snow melt, perennial snow patches appear in the mountains and remain at the end of summer. Glaciers can form in areas where summer temperatures are too low for all of the snow to melt.
When the weight of the ice and snow (thickening snowfield) becomes great enough, they begin to move (flow down-slope).When signs of flow appear in a perennial snow patch, a glacier has begun! No longer only a mass of ice and snow, it is now considered a glacier! Now you know how a glacier is formed.