Glaciers exist on every continent except Australia (although there are many in New Zealand). They are most commonly found above the snow line, which is the minimum elevation of snow lying on the ground. This line, however, occurs at different altitudes depending on the location. In Washington state, the snow line is 5,500 feet, while in Africa it is over 16,732 feet. In Antarctica, it is at sea level. Because glaciers are dependent on snow, some cold regions where there is not enough snowfall, like Siberia, have almost no glaciation. In regions where there is high snowfall in winter and cool temperatures in summer, like mountainous areas or the polar regions, glaciers are abundant. In these areas, more snow can accumulate on the glacier in the winter than will melt from it in the summer.
In the United States, glaciers cover 30,000 square miles. Most U.S. glaciers are located in Alaska. Others can be found in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada. North America’s longest glacier is the Bering Glacier in Alaska, measuring 118 miles long.
The largest glacier in the world is the Lambert-Fisher Glacier in Antarctica. It is 250 miles long and up to 60 miles wide.