AMERICUS (Mar. 26, 2014)--A diagram created by Georgia Southwestern State University professor of Geology and Physics, Burt Carter, Ph.D., is now being used by Denali National Park and Preserve for a new kids’ informational handout about glaciers.  

GSW Geology professor illustrates glacial ice formation for Denali National Park

AMERICUS (Mar. 26, 2014)--A diagram created by Georgia Southwestern State University professor of Geology and Physics, Burt Carter, Ph.D., is now being used by Denali National Park and Preserve for a new kids’ informational handout about glaciers.

Denali National Park and Preserve is located in Alaska, which includes the highest mountain in North America, Denali, or Mount McKinley. Within the preserve, one can find tundra and glaciers, including the longest glacier, the Kahiltna Glacier.

As mentioned in the handout, glaciers are important because they store large amounts of water, hold the history of the world’s climate, and shape the landscape.

“Glaciers leave very distinctive erosional features and equally distinctive sediments behind, even long after they’re gone,” Carter added. “Some of the earliest evidence for continental drift lay in anomalous directions of ice movement indicated by the erosional scars. Much of what we know about ancient climates comes from the record of glacial deposits.”

The importance of glaciers is also explained in the handout for kids at the Denali National Park and Preserve, as well as how they are made. Carter’s diagram shows the process of snow converting into glacial ice. Glaciers form when the amount of snow and ice removed during the summer is less than the amount added by winter snowfall.

“The excess snow is buried progressively deeper year-by-year and is converted to blue glacial ice,” Carter explained. “The melting of the snow takes place at points of contact. As soon as the melted snow is away from the point of contact it refreezes. The process continues and at some point, the ice has lost its flake-like original shape and has become a well-rounded granule of ice. A layer of this type of ice is called firn. With greater pressure (deeper burial), the firn grains fuse together and become a solid mass of crystalline glacial ice.”

Denali National Park and Preserve contacted Carter after viewing his diagram online.

“I drew the diagram as part of a teaching web page for introductory students,” Carter explained. “They googled for images of glacial ice formation and found mine… Then they wrote and asked to use it.”

To view the informational handout and to learn more about glaciers, please click here.

- GSW -