Long before the dawn of mankind, icy bulldozers were slowly sweeping across parts of the world, carving out landforms like lakes and fjords. Glaciers are ancient, massive bodies of ice and snow – and some of the coldest things on planet Earth.
Click start to play today’s Crossword – our coldest one yet – where you have to name other frosty things from around the world.
Not every chunk of old ice can be called a glacier. The minimum size requirement is 0.1 square kilometres – that’s the size of 19 football fields! The Lambert glacier in Antarctica is the world’s largest such ice form, and it measures 96km wide and 434km long.
While shaped like rivers, glaciers are actually considered to be the world’s largest reservoirs of freshwater. They contain 69 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that the oldest glacier ice in Antarctica may be nearly a million years old! During the peak of the last Ice Age, glaciers covered about one-third of Earth’s land area. Today, they cover about 10 per cent of it.
With global warming on the rise, glaciers are rapidly melting and contributing to rising sea levels, which in turn has devastating effects on coastal erosion and ocean temperatures. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), when it comes to sea ice, 95 per cent of the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic is already gone. Greenland’s ice sheet is also disappearing four times faster than in 2003 and is responsible for 20 per cent of the current sea level rise.
We desperately need glaciers to remain the solid, seemingly immovable structures they have been for millennia. The USGS website explains what would happen if all glaciers and ice caps on Earth were to melt: the global sea level would rise approximately 230 feet, flooding every single coastal city on the planet.
Let’s root for the coldest parts of the Earth. Play today’s Crossword and let us know if you enjoyed it at firstname.lastname@example.org.