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Glaciers and Glaciation (workshop)

Led by Dr Simon Carr, Queen Mary University London

1: Why do glaciers matter?

  • On a local level (London)
  • On a national level
  • Globally

2: Understanding glacial processes and dynamics

  • How to grow a glacier
  • How to make it work
  • From processes to landscapes

3: Reconstructing former glaciers

4: Conclusion/Discussion: Taking this back to the classroom

  • Glacier landsystems
  • Glacier reconstruction


Glacier and Glaciation handbook by Dr Simon Carr

Glaciers and Glaciation slideshow

Some Recommended Resources:


Balog, J. (2012) Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers. Rizzoli Press/Extreme Ice Survey, £30. Buy it. Be inspired.

Jouzel, J., Lorius, C., Raynaud, D. (2013) The White Planet: The evolution and future of our frozen world. Princeton Press, £20. A superb, accessible book on glaciers and climate change.

Post, A., La Chapelle, E.R. (2000) Glacier Ice. Washington Press, IGS, £20. Austin Post and Edward

La Chappelle photographed changing glaciers for their whole careers. This book shows all the glory of glaciers and their associated landforms. Beautiful book.

Blogs and Personal Websites

From a Glaciers Perspective:

This is a long-running and continuously-updated blog co-ordinated by Prof Mauri Pelto at Nichols College, providing imagery, data and context of the changing extent and dynamics of mountain glaciers. This is a great resource for examining how mountain glaciers have thinned and retreated in recent decades.

Antarctic Glaciers:

Dr Bethan Davies is an early-career glaciologist who has developed this resource since completing her PhD. Although the focus is primarily on Antarctica, there are a whole range of different resources on this page to illustrate what it is like to undertake research in glacierised regions. Much of this material is easily adapted to non-Antarctic contexts. A very useful, and scientifically robust website that is highly recommended, and includes some lesson plans and ideas.

Photographic Resources

Glaciers Online:

This is a website hosting a wide range of superb images collected by Jurg Alean and Prof Mike Hambrey. There are a comprehensive range of photos in the Photo Glossary to illustrate glacier types, glacier processes and dynamics and resulting geomorphology, as well as database of images of glaciers and glacial phenomena from around the world.

Extreme Ice Survey:

This website is part of James Balog’s project to photograph the changing nature of glaciers as a consequence of climate change. The film of this project ‘Chasing Ice’ is astounding, and highly recommended to illustrate just how dramatic the changes are.

Databases and Free Data Downloads

World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS):

This is the ‘official’ UN monitoring programme of the changes observed on glaciers world-wide. The online database can be freely searched through a map-based meta-browser, giving access to observed glacier monitoring from 30 countries worldwide. An excellent source of data, although some of the information is beyond school level. However, most of the datasets contain time-series information about glacier length, or the altitude of the glacier equilibrium line, which can easily be plotted to explore issues of how glaciers respond to climate change.

National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC):

Another international data centre, based in Boulder, Colorado, which offers a massive array of data that can be freely downloaded. In particular, the NSIDC has excellent archives of the Greenland Ice Cores, allowing analysis of data reflecting over 100,000 years of climate history. Other highlights are the datasets for Arctic sea ice extent since 1979, and the MODIS satellite imagery database.

Lesson Ideas and Google Earth Exercises

Investigating Glacial Landforms with Google Earth:

This website, written by geomorphologist Michael Ritter allows a download of high resolution data for Mt Rainier (Washington State) and the area around Harvard (Massachusetts), allowing some examination of glacial landforms from present-day mountain glaciation and former continental glaciation. There is a downloadable word document with a series of questions, although these do not have any answers supplied! There is a very useful free eBook (The Physical Environment) with a glossary of features and terms, that might also be useful.

Google Earth Tours of Glacier Change

Another website led by Mauri Pelto (see From a Glaciers Perspective, above). This resource is intended for 1st year undergraduates, but the majority of content would be accessible to A level students in the UK. In particular, the guided tour of the Juneau Icefield is very good.

There are a host of teaching materials and learning outcomes on this web-page, as well as web-page links to resources that support the exercise.