Physical Geology

1) Visit the website for the National Snow and Ice Data Center and then answer the following questions: a) What is the “cryosphere”?  What is the origin of “cryos? Where is most of the “cryosphere” concentrated?  Where is the greatest amount of ice on Earth located? Define and differentiate the following cryosphere components and give a geologic location example of each (you may include photos or images):

  • snow
  • glacial ice
  • alpine glaciers (valley or mountain glaciers)
  • continental ice sheets (ice caps)
  • icebergs 
  • polar sea ice (fresh or salty?)
  • permafrost

2) How do glaciers form and move?  At present, what is the status of most of the world’s ice (advancing, retreating, or stable)?  Why?  What are the global consequences of major ice changes?  Why are glaciers the best forms of evidence for climate change?  What are the two most important research tools for scientists to monitor and measure glacial ice changes in both the past and present time?

3) Define and describe the following glacial geological features.  How were each formed by glaciers? Give a geologic location example of each (you may include photos or images).

  • arête
  • horn
  • cirque
  • U-shaped valley (glacial trough)
  • fjord
  • moraine

4) Discuss the topic of “shoreline or coastal geology”.  What are the major geologic forces that form coastlines? (a) Name and describe three (3) coastal geological features and how they formed (you may include photos or images).

5) What are the major causes of global climate change?  What is the relationship between global sea level change and glacial ice loss? – how do they interrelate, and are both related to global climate change?  What are the consequences and hazards of rising global sea level?

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