Antarctica alone contains 91 percent of all the glacial ice on the planet. Continental glaciers have created large distinctive landscapes on every continent.
With few exceptions, a glacier in a mountain range is called an alpine glacier, or mountain glacier. The name comes from the Alps of central Europe, where such glaciers abound. Alpine glaciers form in several subtypes. One prominent type is a valley glacier, literally a river of ice confined within a valley that originally was formed by stream action. Such glaciers range in length from only 100 m (325 ft) to over 100 km (60 mi). As a valley glacier flows slowly downhill, the mountains, canyons, and river valleys beneath its mass are profoundly altered by its erosive passage. Some of the debris created by the glacier's excavation is transported on the ice, visible as dark streaks and bands being transported for deposition elsewhere; other portions of its debris load are carried within or along its base.