What temperature do glaciers melt?

Answered by Robert Dupre

Well, let me tell you about my experience with glaciers and the temperature at which they melt. I had the incredible opportunity to visit a glacier during a trip to Alaska a few years ago. It was a breathtaking sight, with massive walls of ice towering above me.

Now, when it comes to the temperature at which glaciers melt, it’s important to understand that it can vary depending on a few factors. One of the key factors is the amount of pressure being exerted on the ice.

You see, under normal atmospheric pressure at sea level, water will melt at 32°F (0°C). However, when pressure is applied to the ice, the melting point can actually decrease. This phenomenon is known as pressure melting.

In the case of glaciers, the immense weight of the ice above exerts a significant amount of pressure on the lower layers. This pressure lowers the melting point of the ice, allowing it to melt even at temperatures below freezing.

During my visit to the glacier in Alaska, I learned that the pressure melting point of ice can be as low as around 14°F (-10°C) under the weight of a glacier. This means that even though the air temperature was well below freezing, the ice was still melting due to the pressure exerted by the massive glacier.

It was truly fascinating to witness this firsthand. As I stood there, I could hear the sound of trickling water as the ice slowly melted. It was a stark reminder of the power of nature and the constant changes happening in our world.

So, to answer your question, the temperature at which glaciers melt can be lower than the typical freezing point of water due to pressure melting. In the case of glaciers, this can be around 14°F (-10°C) or even lower, depending on the specific conditions.

My experience with glaciers and their melting temperatures was a humbling and awe-inspiring one. It made me appreciate the delicate balance of our planet and the importance of understanding these natural processes.