Glaciers are the thick ice masses that form when the falling of snow exceeds its melting over many years. They start to form up when snow remains in one location for an extended period and transforms into ice. Glaciers distort slowly and flow due to the pressure induced by their weight. The size of the glaciers varies from as small as the football field to as large as hundreds of kilometers long. Glaciers occupy almost 10% of the Earth’s land surface, mostly in places like Greenland and Antarctica.
Glaciers can be considered as the leftover from the last Ice Age when ice covered a large percentage of the land and oceans. According to scientific estimation, ice age existed 2.6 million years ago due to the long-term reduction in the temperature of the earth’s surface that leads to the formation of glaciers in many parts of the world. During the last Ice Age, a majority of the northern hemisphere was covered in ice and glaciers that included most of the Canada, northern Asia, Europe, and extended till the United States of America. When the glacier ice becomes very dense, it absorbs all the colors in the spectrum and reflects blue colour due to which it often appears blue.
Many people are not aware of the fact that glaciers are a huge source of drinking water on earth. Though the amount of water that glaciers and ice cap contain is a very small percentage of the total water present on earth, it holds a large proportion of the world’s total fresh water. Glaciers store water in the form of ice during the winter seasons and release it in the form of meltwater when the glaciers melt due to the warmer temperature in summers. This meltwater becomes the important source of water for humans, plants, animals, etc. If the whole of the ice in the glaciers melted, it would raise the level of the sea by about 80 meters.
The demand for glacier water has increased over the period. Many beverage companies are selling the water bottles that contain glaciers meltwater and ice cubes made of glacier ice. In fact, the water that melts from the glacier is also used to irrigate crops in many areas. Chewang Norphel, a Civil Engineer from Ladakh, has built 15 artificial glaciers that provide more water for crops and humans during the dry phases. He is also famous by the nickname Ice Man. These artificial glaciers are created in different areas to catch the water that would otherwise flow away. Many countries in the world store the glacier meltwater and use it for the generation of electricity.
The facts stated above clearly shows how the glaciers are the source of fresh water that caters to the large population of the world.