It is important to note that there is a wide range of glacier types, where their formation process, such as growth or shrinkage, is affected by certain processes and forces. There are three main types of glaciers, which are ice sheets, alpine glaciers, and intermediate forms, such as rock glaciers. Continental glaciers include ice sheets and ice caps, which differ in the area of coverage, where the former needs to be larger 50000 km2 and the latter less than 50000 km2 (“There are 9 Types of Glaciers in the World: discover all of them” par. 3).
On some occasions, ice sheets break down, resulting in outlet glaciers, which originate and flow out from ice sheet glaciers. Mountain types involve valley, hanging, and cirque glaciers, which can be distinguished on the basis of scale. Valley glaciers are the largest form of alpine group, and hanging glaciers mainly originate from mountaintops and flow in valley glaciers. Cirque glaciers primarily form on crevasses and dips.
The notion of glacier equilibrium is a specific state of glacier mass balance, where accumulation and ablation rates of a glacier become equal. In other words, the overall mass and size of a glacier do not change since the inflow of a new glacier is equivalent to the outflow amount. Ablation usually takes place at the lower end of a glacier, where it is positioned in a relatively warmer environment and under the heavy impact of water, such as rivers or lakes. Accumulation usually takes place at higher altitudes, such as mountaintops, where new glacier material is formed, which flows into the main glacier body (“An introduction to Glacier Mass Balance” par. 4). Scientists can show the equilibrium state by finding and observing the equilibrium line.
“An introduction to Glacier Mass Balance.” Wildlife Experience. 2020. Web.
“There are 9 Types of Glaciers in the World: discover all of them.” Wildlife Experience. 2019. Web.