During the last Ice Age, more than 30 percent of the Earth’s surface was covered by glacier, today just 10 percent remains covered by these giant moving ice formations. Some are accessible, some are not – either way the worlds glaciers are pretty incredible and worth taking note of.
In no particular order at all, here are the worlds 5 greatest glaciers.
Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
Commonly known as New Zealand’s gem of the West Coast the Franz Josef Glacier has proudly earned it’s place in the top 5. It is located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand, just 5 kilometres from the Franz Josef township. This glacier is the most popular attraction on the West Coast – and for good reason too. The glacier is extremely unique in the fact that it extends right down into a temperate rainforest – it is one of only two locations in the world to do so. The Waiho river emerges from the glacier terminal of Franz Josef and the area is also extremely accessible on foot or by helicopter, so it comes as no surprise that it is visited by up to 250,000 people each year. Guided and unguided walks up to and onto the glacier are possible. The more advanced hikes and climbs do require specialized equipment, such as ice axes and crampons that latch onto a sturdy boot. Definitely one place in the world to see!
Lambert-Fisher Glacier, Antarctica
The longest glacier in the world is Lambert-Fisher and it lies in East Antarctica and wasn’t discovered until 1956 due to the remoteness of its location. This world famous ice passage runs through the Prince Charles Mountains and is 515 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide. It moves at speeds of up to nearly 1005 metres per year and is over 2499 metros deep.
Siachen Galcier, Himalaya
A glacier with great historic significance is the famous Siachen glacier. This has to be the highest battleground on earth, it is here that India and Pakistan always met in a frozen standoff. It is also the world’s largest non-polar glacier. This glacier is well known for its scarce population and treacherous climatic conditions. Siachin boasts more than 2 trillion cubic feet of ice, and within 25 kilometres has 45 peaks which rise up to a height of 18000 feet. Unfortunately Siachen is melting at an incredibly fast rate, satellite pictures show massive lakes appearing throughout the entire length of the glacier.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
Perito Moreno Glacier is situated It is just out of the Argentine town of El Calafate, This glacier is exceptional for the fact that out of the 50 or so southern Patagonian glaciers, there are only 3 advancing, and the beautiful Perito Moreno is one of them.The reason behind this still remains debated by glaciologists. It is a 250 km2 ice formation and is 30 kilometers in length. Perito Moreno is a very accessible glacier, there are several viewing areas and tourism has become increasingly popular over the recent years. Visitors report watching enormous chunks of ice break off plummeting dramatically into Lake Argentino.
Pasterze Glacier, Austria
Pasterze is Austria’s longest Glacier currently measuring in at approximately 8.4 kilometers in length. It covers around 1800 hectares in area and is situated in the Eastern Alps, directly behind Austria’s largest mountain, the Grossglockner. It is shrinking by approx. 10 meters per year and has lost about half its volume since measurements were first taken in 1851. This is mostly attributed to long-term climate change. Still, Pasterze is an extremely popular tourist spot frequented for thousands of visitors every year.
Jessica frequently blogs about New Zealand travel and tourism. She writes about the superb activities and accommodation Franz Josef Glacier New Zealand has to offer. Check out Punga Grove Motel accommodation in Franz Josef while there visiting the famous glaciers.