Glacier ice is at present widely distributed across the globe. Glaciers can form at any location where accumulation exceeds ablation on a multi-annual basis. As a result, there is a huge variety in the types of glaciers that are found on Earth today. Large ice sheets and glaciers exist close to sea level in both polar regions, in the mid-latitudes where there is sufficient precipitation and even in tropical regions at high altitude. There is also a huge variety in the landforms and sediments produced by these glaciers. Understanding the behaviour of contemporary ice sheets and glaciers, as well as the origins of the landforms and sediments that they produce, is important because these are the analogues that we use to interpret the products of former ice sheets and glaciers.
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