Why does a glacier move
Impressive glacier landscape © dpa
Glaciers are in constant motion, creating valleys and other mountain structures. A typical glacier in the Alps, for example, moves downhill about 50 meters per year under the influence of gravity. This usually happens because the entire glacier slides down on the bedrock. The friction is not enough to keep gravity balanced. The reason is often pressure melting. The high pressure at the bottom of the glacier turns the ice into water, so that the glacier glides on a thin film of meltwater.
It can be dangerous if the glacier movement suddenly increases significantly. Thawing or excessive pressure can cause large amounts of meltwater to accumulate at the bottom of the glacier. This will reduce the friction with the ground and the glacier will begin to hurtle down the mountain.
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