Where are all the glaciers?

During the last ice age (until roughly 10,000 years ago) one third of the world and much of Britain was covered in ice. Since then, the climate has warmed, causing most of the ice to melt.

Today the total glacier coverage is nearly 15,000,000 square kilometres, with most of the world's glacial ice remaining in the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Glaciers can,however, be found right around the world, even in equatorial Africa. Australia is the only continent without glaciers. Glaciers can only survive if the average temperature is freezing or less, so in warm areas they are found at high altitude. At low altitude they are only found in high latitudes. So, remember...glaciers are found at high latitude or at high altitude.



Worldwide distribution of glaciers (in square kilometres)
Antarctica 11,965,000 (without ice shelves and ice rises)
Greenland 1,784,000
Canada 200,000
Central Asia 109,000
Russia 82,000
United States 75,000 (including Alaska)
China and Tibet 33,000
South America 25,000
Iceland 11,260
Scandinavia 2,909
Alps 2,900
New Zealand 1,159
Mexico 11
Indonesia 7.5
Africa 10


The figures shown here are approximate and don't include smaller polar islands, isolated small glaciers, etc. It's important to also remember that the total area changes year by year as warming melts some areas and increased snowfall enlarges the extent of glaciers in other locations.

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