On the second day of our expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer, we entered Hornsund Fjord. This was the the very same area I viewed from my plane window with multiple glaciers feeding into one spot. A Fjord is a valley that is carved by a glacier and is a deep trough. This trough is fed by tributary glaciers. The glaciers form from snowfall. If there is constant cold and a build up of snow, then over time the snow compacts into ice. There needs to be 10-15 meters of snow to form glacial ice and once this piece of ice is big enough to move it is officially a glacier.
While I have always lived in New England and witnessed snow year after year, I had no idea that different types of snow have different names. A glacier begins as regular snow but as it compacts it goes through stages. Stage 1 is fresh snow. Stage 2 is Corn Snow and is defined as snow that goes though repeated melting and freezing. The snow resembles large-grained rounded crystals. It is the type of snow that forms a nice crust that you can walk on top of. Stage 3 is firn. Firn snow has the appearance of wet sugar. It is the snow that has been left over from previous seasons and has recrystallized into a denser substance. Finally, there is the glacial ice.