What is the largest glacier in the world? The word largest comes with features like area, mass, volume, width, and depth. So when it comes to glaciers, the largest means the widespread one, with a huge mass of ice and snow reaching profound depth. Looking at this, Lambert Glacier in East Antarctic is the largest glacier in the world – it is 50 miles (80 km) wide, 250 miles (400 km) long, and 2500 meters deep.
Antarctica is one of the world’s coldest regions, covered in snow and ice. Seated in the Antarctic zone, Lambert Glacier too features the coldest temperature, unique natural builds, huge walls of icebergs, and more. So let’s explore more about Lambert Glacier, the largest glacier in the world, in detail. Here are some things you must know about this geographically gifted resource.
What Is Glacier? How Does It Form?
For a mountaineer, glaciers are the challenging natural builds that come as an obstacle in the journey. But keeping the journey aside, glaciers are one of the most beautiful natural gifts that we have gotten from thousands and millions of years ago. It is one of the natural resources that gives perfect visuals to the environment and is also a source of water to us.
In simple terms, glaciers are the large masses of moving ice that generally are created in the lower altitudes of the mountains. They form on land as the snow from the higher altitude moves downward and gathers around the large pit, forming huge sheets and blocks of snow and ice. They are compressed for thousands of years, making them rocky, hard, and very challenging but shiny looks. The interesting thing about glaciers is that they slowly move downward by the pull of gravity. But the movement cannot be seen by our naked eyes – the difference in their presence can be calculated at various times [large difference of years].
If you see the world map, you can find that most glaciers exist in the polar region. Polar regions like Antarctica, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic have numerous glaciers that have come into human acknowledgment. They are also found in the equatorial regions like The Andes Mountain range in South America. We can find the largest tropical glaciers in these regions. Besides, the Himalayas of Nepal, India, and Pakistan also have numerous glaciers that are very popular globally. By this, we can already imagine how much volume of the earth’s water is stored in glaciers. For your information, glaciers alone contain around 2 percent of the earth’s total water portion.
Scientists believe that most of the glaciers in the world are from The Ice Age, which ended more than 10,000 years ago. But it is stated that they are significantly melting due to global warming. Also, some glaciers have even disappeared for the same reason. Reports show that the glaciers from the mountains are melting at an accelerated rate throughout the years and decades.
Largest Glacier In The World | Area And Location
As we already discussed in the introduction, the largest glacier in the world is Lambert Glacier in Antarctica. It is one of the major glaciers in East Antarctica, with 50 miles (80 km) in width and over 250 miles (400 km) in length. Lambert Glacier has a depth of 2500 meters.
As per the geology, it moves northward to the Amery Ice Shelf, draining 8% of the Antarctic ice sheet to the east and south of the Prince Charles Mountains. Lambert Glacier was first brought to the limelight by American geographer John H. Roscoe. It was 1952 when John studied the surroundings of Lambert Glacier via aerial photographs. It was named ‘Baker Three Glacier’ by the Navy Photographic Aircraft, and crews made three flights to snap images of the Largest Glacier in the World.
Though the glacier was already discovered in 1947, it did not appear forefront of the official maps. But it was described in Gazetteer No. 14, Geographic Names of Antarctica (U.S. Board on Geographic Names, 1956). ‘Lambert Glacier’ was named after the Director of National Mapping in the Australian Department of National Development, Bruce P. Lambert.
Geographical Location of Lambert Glacier
Lambert Glacier, also known as Lambert Glacier–Amery Ice Shelf system, is at 68.5–81° S, 40–95° E. It was one of the toughest tasks to map the geographical location of this glacier. However, with the help of Satellite-radar altimeters, the study of the largest ice-sheet mapping at the desired accuracy is possible.
The largest glacier in the world has its tributary glacier named Fischer Glacier. It moves northeast between Mount Bayliss and Mount Ruker. It was first discovered by ANARE in 1956 and 1957 via aerial photographs taken by aircraft. Similarly, Seavers Nunataks, located at 73°10′S 61°58′E is the ridge of a mountain that protrudes from the Fischer Glacier. It lies on the west side of Mount Scherger. It was named after an assistant cook at Mawson Station, J.A. Seavers, who was the part of 1958 and 1960–61 photography campaigns of the Lambert Glacier and its surroundings.
Similarly, another tributary glacier is Mellor Glacier, which flows north-northeast between Mount Newton and Mount Maguire. It meets Collins Glacier before mixing up with Lambert Glacier at Patrick Point. Patrick Point, located at 73°28′S 66°51′E is well known as the northern point of Cumpston Massif.
The Formation of a Colossus
Lambert Glacier is the largest glacier in the world, and anyone can imagine how big it is. But have you wondered how did it form and have such a large volume of ice? Lambert Glacier features several natural phenomena, including heavy snowfall, slow ice flow, and the geography of its surroundings. Just like any other glacier, Lambert Glacier also formed with a huge accumulation of snowfall, which gradually got compressed over thousands of years and turned into ice. The glacier’s flow is influenced by the pull of gravity, and rugged terrains, which makes it’s way down towards the lower basins and surroundings.
Talking about the size of Lambert Glacier, it is way deeper than the Grand Canyon. Having a depth of over 2500 meters, it is not considered a large mass of ice sheets for no reason. Geologists believe that this hidden abyss holds significant insights into the region’s geological history. Moreover, the ice flow dynamics and the climate change insights are more replicable from Lambert Glacier.
The Ever-Changing Face of Lambert Glacier
After all, Lambert Glacier is a huge sheet of ice and snow, so the heat has a significant influence in changing its form. Throughout the decades, Lambert Glacier has melted in the summer, during the ice accumulation increased in the winter season. In simple terms, it is constantly in flux, shaped by natural forces. The process of shifting, cracking, and calving comes along with the region’s rise and fall in temperature. There have been many reports of enormous cracking, icebergs breaking, and other natural phenomena that keeps the delicate balance between ice and climate.
Weather And Temperature Around Lambert Glacier
Lambert Glacier features a wide pool of snow and ice, making it one of the coldest regions in the world. While the temperature and weather are very harsh, human life is not supported in this region. The average temperature in Lambert Glacier is around -50 degrees Celsius.
The daytimes are mostly warm compared to the night times. During the daytime, temperature increases up to -31 Degrees Celsius. But it does not mean that it is capable of supporting human life. -31 Degrees Celsius is still very hazardous, so any human body needs supporting gears to survive in this temperature. Similarly, the temperatures in the steep coastal slopes are 3 to 5 degrees warmer than the main inland of the glacier.
Talking of the weather patterns of Lambert Glacier, it is mostly windy throughout the day and night. The basin, which runs around 800 km inland, mainly controls the strong wind called the Katabatic wind regime. However, in the steep coastal slopes of Lambert and Mellor Ice Streams, the winds are more naturally channeled, enhancing the velocity to its optimum level. During the summer, the wind velocity reaches around 0900 LST (local solar time) and the most easterly direction at 1300 LST.
Similarly, Lambert Glacier features Polar Climate with long, harsh winters with limited daylight hours. Summers are relatively hotter than winters; however, it is not enough for human survival.