Scientists not too long ago created the primary systematic rating of Earth’s largest glaciers. They began by evaluating inconsistent databases to pick out the varieties that finest match the definition of a glacier—a long-lasting, flowing mass of ice. Figuring out the borders of particular person glaciers, nevertheless, is difficult. Ice caps, for instance, transfer in a number of instructions, so multiple glacier could also be a part of a single supply. “Circulation divides might be tough to calculate,” says co-author Bruce Raup of the U.S. Nationwide Snow and Ice Information Middle (NSIDC).

At decrease elevations, glaciers can converge, making it unclear whether or not they rely as a number of our bodies. Regardless of the challenges, the outcomes tabulate greater than 200,000 glaciers and glacier complexes (glaciers that share a standard border). Vendor Glacier and the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Physique high the checklist, respectively. “The extra precisely we are able to map glacier outlines, the higher we are able to observe their melting resulting from local weather change,” says lead writer Ann Windnagel of the NSIDC.

Graphic shows shapes and sizes of the largest glaciers and glacier complexes in each of 19 world regions.

Credit score: Amanda Montañez; Supply: “Which Glaciers Are the Largest within the World?” by Ann Windnagel et al., in Journal of Glaciology; 2022 (glacier shapes and map reference)