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17 Famous Glaciers of the World That Definitely Demand a Visit

Glaciers around the world attract a lot of tourists throughout the year. Long stretches of pristine, white landscapes and tranquil air is indeed enchanting and spellbinding. For a long time, glaciers have captured the fantasy of the adventure-seeking travelers, but in recent times, they have been in headlines for all the wrong reasons. In the past few years, global warming has raised serious concerns about the depletion of the Earth’s glacial regions. Due to the rise in overall temperature of our planet over the last decade, glacial ice is melting at a rapid pace, and as a result, these blankets of ice are receding.
Famous Glaciers to Visit While You Can
Among the most amazing natural wonders of Earth are the mighty glaciers―calm and benign at one point of time, while ruthless and treacherous at another. Slowly, they creep downwards from the high mountain terrains to the lowlands, and cover enormous expanses of the polar regions. For millions and millions of years, these glaciers have been forming and melting, and have, thus, shaped some of the finest landscapes that Earth has. Despite their unpredictable moods, people have been fascinated by the beauty of these serenely white sheets of ice that cover enormous landmasses, and have been drawn towards them time and again. If you are one of these curious nature enthusiasts and/or adventure-seekers, we, at Buzzle, have compiled for you, a brief list of some of the most famous and beautiful glaciers around the world.
Lambert Glacier
Location: East Antarctica
Type: Valley Glacier

◼ Home to hundreds of awe-inspiring glaciers, Antarctica also comprises the world’s largest glacier―the Lambert Glacier―which measures approximately 60 miles wide, 250 miles long, and about 1.5 miles deep.

◼ Considered to be very important for the study of climate change, it drains about 8% of the Antarctic Ice Sheet― the world’s largest ice sheet, covering an area of 14,000,000 sq km―until it eventually reaches the Amery Ice Shelf, which is, in fact, only a seaward extension of the Lambert.

◼ The Amery Ice Shelf is particularly interesting, in that it comprises some of the most rarely found bottlegreen-colored icebergs, which, according to scientists, get their color from the large amount of organic matter that they contain.

Tourism: Lambert Glacier lies in an extremely isolated part of Antarctica, owing to which it is not very easy to reach there. It requires a long and an expensive voyage. Moreover, the overall stay on the continent also involves a lot of expenses. Tourists rarely visit this glacier, and according to Lonely Planet, a maximum of two tourist ships sail to the place in a year.

Vatnajökull Glacier
Country: Iceland
Type: Ice Cap
◼ Ranking high among the largest glaciers of Europe, the Vatnajökull, a.k.a Vatna Glacier, is also the most voluminous one in Iceland.

◼ Covering a total area of 8,100 sq km, this iceberg actually forms the largest ice cap, not only in the whole of Europe, but also outside the polar regions.

◼ Covering around 8% of Iceland’s total area, the Vatnajökull Glacier has several active volcanoes underneath it.

Tourism: The glacier forms part of the Vatnajökull National Park, one of the major tourist spots in southeast Iceland. Tourists are allowed to take guided scenic hikes on the glacier.

Perito Moreno Glacier
Country: Argentina
Type: Tidewater Glacier

◼ Named after the explorer Francisco Moreno, the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the major tourist attractions in the Argentine Patagonia.

◼ Spread over an area of 250 sq km, and stretching over 30 km in length, it forms part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest freshwater reserve in the world.

◼ This glacier is one of three Patagonian glaciers that is expanding, however, the reasons for this are debated by glaciologists.

Tourism: Located in the Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz province of Argentina, this glacier is one of the major tourist attractions. Owing to its easy accessibility, several walking and trekking tours of the glacier have gained popularity in recent times. Several tour companies organize these tours for people.

Furtwängler Glacier
Country: Tanzania
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ Situated on the cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Furtwängler is the most famous glacier in Africa. Over the last century, most of the glacial ice has disappeared. What remains today is just 12% of what used to crown the peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro a century ago.

◼ The disappearance of the glacier has raised huge concern among environmentalists and glaciologists, and it is said that at the current rate of retreat, the glacier might disappear by the year 2020.

◼ In 2010, the journal Global and Planetary Change published a study about Furtwängler’s retreat, which said that deforestation activities in the lower slopes of Mouth Kilimanjaro is resulting in the reduction of the flow of moisture up towards its summit. This is the main reason why the glacier is melting at a fast pace.

Tourism: Mount Kilimanjaro, over which the glacier rests, is part of the Kilimanjaro National Park. Tourists are allowed to hike to the summit of the mountain, and also to camp right next to the glacier.

Pasterze Glacier
Country: Austria
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ One of the major tourist attractions in Austria, the Pasterze Glacier is not only the longest glacier in Austria, but also in the eastern Alps.

◼ It is around 8.5 km in length, with an area of 18.5 sq km, however, it is now retreating rapidly at the rate of 10 m every year.

◼ There is no doubt that the glacier is melting due to global warming, however, its retreat also turns our attention towards the fragility of the Alpine ecosystems.

Tourism: The glacier lies right beneath Austria’s largest mountain, Grossglockner, and hence, is very popular among hikers. The funicular railway that takes tourists to the glacier is also a major attraction in the region.

Yulong Glacier
Country: China
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ Part of Mount Yulong, popularly known as the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the Yulong Glacier is situated on the mountain’s summit.

◼ It is among the most difficult glaciers to climb because of its altitude, and hence, it is popular among seasoned mountaineers who are looking for a challenging hike.

◼ Yulong Glacier is also retreating since the 1980s, and many Chinese scientists predict that it might be gone in another 50 years time.

Tourism: Apart from the adventure-seekers, Mount Yulong and it’s glacial summit also attract a large number of sightseers. People can go up to the peak by cable cars to see some of the most awe-inspiring views of the surrounding areas.

Fox Glacier
Country: New Zealand
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ Named in 1872 after the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Sir William Fox, the Fox Glacier is one of the most popular and easily accessible glaciers in New Zealand.

◼ Situated in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island, it is 13 km in length, and has been expanding since the year 1985.

◼ What makes this glacier stand apart is that fact that it is one of those few of them, which terminate in the lush rainforests.

Tourism: The glacier has been promoted as a major tourist spot in New Zealand. Alongside guided and unguided excursions on and around the glacier, people are also seen taking helicopter rides and engaging in skydiving.

Franz Josef Glacier
Country: New Zealand
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ Just 25 km away from the Fox Glacier is another famous glacier of New Zealand, the Franz Josef. Named after the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I, it runs over a stretch of 12 km, and is the steepest glacier in the country.

◼ It is located just 300 meters above the sea level, and terminates, like the Fox Glacier, amidst the lush green beauty of a temperate rainforest.

◼ The region that surrounds both these glaciers is part of the Te Wāhipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that encompasses three national parks.

Tourism: Another major tourist attraction of the West Coast, this site offers several picturesque views of the region. Guided and unguided tours of the glacier are possible, however, of late, owing to its unstable terminal face, helicopter rides are encouraged more than walking excursions.

Mendenhall Glacier
Country: The United States
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ This 12-mile long glacier is situated in the Mendenhall Valley in the Juneau Borough in Alaska. Along with its surrounding landscape, the glacier forms part of a protected area, called the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area that falls under a federally designated unit of the Tongass National Forest.

◼ Recent data proves that the Mendenhall has been retreating, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future, owing to the continuously increasing global temperature.

◼ However, the law of unintended consequences seems to have worked well in case of this glacier. The glacier’s recession has resulted in the formation of the Mendenhall Lake, which has been growing since 1931. The lake is a unique ecosystem in itself, and has grown to become a popular location for sport fishing.

Tourism: The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center is being operated near the site by the United States Forest Service, which offers several educational programs for adults and children all through the year. The visitor center also houses a restaurant, a library, a souvenir shop, and a small museum. Several guided trails of the glacier are also offered.

Athabasca Glacier
Country: Canada
Type: Ice Field

◼ One of the most visited glaciers in North America, this glacier is 6 km long, covering an area of around 2.3 sq miles, but is said to be receding at the rate of 3 m every year.

◼ The glacier is located very close to the Icefields Parkway, between the towns of Jasper and Banff in the Canadian province of Alberta. Owing to this, it is more easily accessible.

◼ Traveling to the glacier unequipped is not recommended, and in the past the glacier’s hidden crevasses have actually resulted in deaths of some of the tourists.

Tourism: The Icefield Interpretive Center is located near the site, which offers guided sightseeing of the glacier. There is also a sightseeing tour ticket counter in the Center. Visitors can reach the edge of the glacier by standard buses, after which they have to take the special snow coaches, in order to climb upwards. Entry to the glacier is closed in winter, from mid-October to mid-April.

Hubbard Glacier
Country: The United States, Canada
Type: Tidewater Glacier

◼ Located in eastern Alaska and the Yukon territory of Canada, the Hubbard Glacier is one of the fast expanding glaciers, and also one of the most popular attractions in North America.

◼ Stretching over a length of 122 km, the Hubbard Glacier, is the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent. It offers a sight to behold, but trekking on the glacier is not allowed.

◼ Research tells us that the ice that lies at the foot of the glacier is about 400 years old. Moreover, it is a known fact that the Hubbard constantly calves off colossal icebergs, some even as tall as ten-storied buildings.

Tourism: Though trekking on this glacier is not allowed as mentioned earlier, tourists can take helicopter tours of the Hubbard and see some immensely captivating views. Walking tours are available, but these need special permissions and a professional guide.

Jostedalsbreen Glacier
Country: Norway
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ Spread over an area of around 487 sq km, and about 60 km long, Jostedalsbreen Glacier is the largest glacier in continental Europe.

◼ It is a part of the Jostedalsbreen National Park that was established in the year 1991, and covers over 50% of the total area of the park.

◼ The glacier does display high melting rates in its snouts. However, despite rising temperature, the high rate of snowfall that the region experiences is the source of the considerable amount of ice that the glacier still holds.

Tourism: Hiking is allowed on the Jostedalsbreen Glacier, however, guided hikes are encouraged more in the area. There is also a visitors’ center in the vicinity, that houses a small exhibition regarding the National Park, its geology, flora and fauna.

Aletsch Glacier
Country: Switzerland
Type: Valley Glacier

◼ Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier on the Swiss Alps, covering an area of 120 sq km, and spread over a length of around 24 km.

◼ The glacier is a part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2001.

◼ This mighty glacier actually comprises three smaller glaciers, which meet each other at Concordia. Past this point, the Aletsch continues towards the Rhone Valley until it gives birth to the Massa River.

Tourism: While guided trekking and walking tours are available for the adventure-seekers, the glacier is no less attractive for the sightseeing enthusiasts as well. They can take a cable car, and witness some of the most spellbinding views of the glacier and surrounding areas.

Langjökull Glacier
Country: Iceland
Type: Ice Cap

◼ Langjökull Glacier, which literally translates to ‘long glacier’, is the second-largest glacier in Iceland, only after the Vatnajökull Glacier. Spread over an area of around 953 sq km, it is approximately parallel to Iceland’s active volcano zone, and is surrounded by some smaller glaciers and mountain ranges.

◼ Though this glacier is large in size, it is interesting to note that it is not a source of many rivers. In fact, according to research, numerous hot springs in the Borgarfjörður region, receive their groundwater from this very glacier.

◼ However, according to research, this glacier is repleting rapidly, and according to glaciologists, it will completely disappear in the next 150 years.

Tourism: The region around the glacier is sparsely populated, and there is also not much tourist influx in the region. However, certain guided climbing excursions of the glacier are available.

Baltoro Glacier
Country: Pakistan
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ Located in the Karakoram mountain range in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, the Baltoro Glacier is 62 km long, which makes it one of the longest glaciers, not situated in a polar regions.

◼ Some of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, including the K1 and the K2 stand in the vicinity of this glacier, thus, also making it one of the most famous tourist destinations.

◼ Many of the glacial streams, which rise on the Baltoro during summer, are known to flow freely during the day, and to freeze overnight.

Tourism: Tourists indulge in mountaineering and trekking excursions on the Baltoro glacier, however, it is regularly patrolled by the Pakistan army, owing to some regional tensions.

Portage Glacier
Country: The United States
Type: Mountain Glacier

◼ A part of the Chugach National Forest, Portage Glacier is situated in the state of Alaska in the United States. It stretches over a length of nearly 10 km, but recent stats show that it is retreating.

◼ Now located south of the Portage Lake, the glacier is known to have been filling the entire Portage Valley, some 100 years ago.

◼ According to studies, the glacier was initially much larger than it is now. But, with the passage of time, it broke up to form what are now five separate glaciers.

Tourism: In 1986, the United States Forest Service opened the Begich/Boggs Visitor Center near the glacier. However now, owing to its depletion, the glacier can no longer be seen from there. Tourists have to hire a commercial boat across the lake in order to seen the Portage.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Occupying the northernmost portion of the southeastern Alaska coastline, between the Gulf of Alaska and Canada, the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is an American national park that spreads over the land area of 3,223,384 acres.

Home to a large glacier, now repleting at a rapid pace, this national park is a major tourist spot in Alaska. The park offers several excursions, alongside activities such as sport hunting and sport fishing.

Now is the time to visit and explore these glaciers, these natural wonders, because if global warming has its way, then probably by the end of the century, most of these glaciers will be wiped out from the face of our planet.

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