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Glaciers carve path for future buildup

Previously sculpted landscapes accumulate ice more quickly than steep valleys

By carving wide valleys into mountain landscapes, glaciers prime a region for even more extensive glaciations in the future, researchers report in the Jan. 10 Nature.

Vivi Pedersen of Norway’s University of Bergen and David Egholm of Denmark’s Aarhus University simulated how mountain glaciers form when a climate grows colder. In mountains marked by steep, narrow valleys, ice volume steadily increases as temperatures drop and snow begins to fall at increasingly lower altitudes. But in flatter regions previously covered by glaciers, ice builds more rapidly because snow has more surface area to accumulate on.

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