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A glacier is a mass of thick ice that stays frozen and can move slowly over land. During the Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, many parts of the world were covered with glaciers. Almost all of Canada and the northern parts of Europe, like Scandinavia and Siberia were covered with ice. Today, the large ice masses of the Ice Age are gone but there are still glaciers all over the world. Most of them exist high up in mountain regions but even around the equator there are places where snow falls and never melts. Glaciers can form in places where the snow that falls in winter months cannot completely melt away during the summer. The layers of snow get thicker and thicker. When it melts and freezes over and over again it turns into ice. This ice can become very heavy and starts to move down valleys. The speed at which glaciers move depends on the climate. When it gets colder glaciers get bigger and move downwards. When it gets warmer over a longer period of time glaciers melt and retreat back to the tops of the mountains. In some cases glaciers can move up to 1 km or even more every year. When a glacier moves over land slowly it picks up rock and dirt and carries these materials along with it. When a glacier comes to a standstill it piles up this material to form moraines. The gigantic weight and power of glaciers can even reshape mountains. This happened to the Alps and other mountain ranges during the Ice Age. The earth's glaciers hold about 75% of the world's freshwater. Many people think that if temperatures around the world increase, more and more ice will melt. Sea levels will go up and flood many coastal areas. Valley glaciers grow high up in the mountains. They form in places where it stays cold the whole year
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