Broadly, the glaciers are divided into two major types:

(i) Continental glaciers including Ice Caps and Ice – sheets.

(ii) Mountain glaciers – these are valley glaciers and piedmont glaciers.

Continental glaciers are large bodies of snow found in Antarctica and Greenland. Larger bodies of continental glaciers are also called as ice – sheets, while ice caps are small continental glaciers mainly found in Ice land. In some cases the continental glaciers occur on the top of mountain from which valley and piedmont glaciers move away in different directions.


Valley glaciers rise in ice caps or snow fields and occupy mountain valleys. Two or more valley glaciers combine to give rise to piedmont glaciers on plains or intermontane valleys. Glaciers loose their mass by melting, evaporation and sublimation. Wastage by all these processes is termed as ablation. Ice fronts retreat by back wasting and down wasting. Glaciers also thin out through ablation. Before ablation, some glaciers meet the sea and large blocks of ice floats on sea water, known as ice-bergs.