To a geologist, glaciers are among the most exciting features on Earth. Though they seem to creep along at impossibly slow speeds, in geologic time glaciers are relatively fast, powerful landscape artists that can carve out valleys and fjords in just a few thousand years.
Glaciers also provide an environmental record by trapping air bubbles in ice that reveal atmospheric conditions in the past. And because they are very sensitive to climate, growing and advancing when it’s cold and shrinking and retreating when its warm, they can be used as proxies for regional temperatures.
Over geologic time, they have ebbed and flowed with natural climate cycles. Today, the world’s glaciers are in retreat, sped up by relatively rapid warming of the globe. In our own Glacier National Park in Montana, only 26 named glaciers remain out of the 150 known in 1850. They are predicted to be completely gone by 2030 if current warming continues at the same rate.
Here we have collected 13 stunning images of some of the world’s most impressive and beautiful glaciers, captured from space by astronauts and satellites.