Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Glacier Hazards

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_156


Glacier hazards are natural Earth processes associated with alpine glaciers, ice caps, or ice sheets that threaten people or property.


About 10% of Earth’s surface is covered by glacier ice, and about 99% of this glacier cover is in Greenland and Antarctica. The other 1% comprises ice fields, ice caps, and cirque, valley, and piedmont glaciers, mainly in mountains of northwest North America, Arctic Canada, and Asia. Glaciers provide many benefits or natural service functions. For example, meltwater from alpine glaciers augments stream runoff during summer, which is important for agriculture, municipal water supply, and hydroelectric power generation. However, processes associated with glaciers can also be hazardous. In addition, some glacier hazards may be amplified by climate change.

Glaciers, climate change, and sea-level rise

Glaciers around the world have grown and receded in response to climate change throughout the Holocene. Most alpine glaciers achieved...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Natural Hazard Research, Department of Earth SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada