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Any mass loss from a glacier


The addition of new snow or ice to a glacier


A gradual change in an organism that enables it to survive in a particular environment.


Rock formed by cooled, solidified magma that forms part of the Earth’s crust.


Underlying layer of rock

Behavioural adaptation

A thing that organisms do to survive in a particular environment, such as the way they feed, breed or move.


The process by which ice breaks off from a glacier

Continental plates

Pieces of the Earth’s crust that make up the world’s continents. These plates are thicker and older than oceanic plates, formed more than three billion years ago.

Convection currents

Heat deep inside the Earth that drives the movement of the Earth’s plates nearer the surface.


The Earth’s outer shell, made of solid rock that is between 7-70 kilometres thick.


A large body of compressed snow and ice that moves slowly outwards and downwards under the pressure of its own weight.


Protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body.

Ice sheet

Large continental masses of glacial ice

Ice shelf

Thick floating platform of ice that forms where a glacier or ice sheet flows down to a coastline.


The layer of the Earth’s interior that is made of mostly solid rock. The Mantle extends from the bottom of the Earth’s crust down to 2,900 kilometres deep inside the Earth.

Mantle Plumes

A rising mass of molten rock (magma) from the Mantle, deep inside the Earth.


Chemical changes in the cells of an organism that release energy for it to live and grow.


Foods or chemicals that an organism needs to live and grow.

Oceanic crust

The outer layer of the Earth’s surface that lies beneath the oceans. As oceanic crust is denser than continental crust it generally lies below sea level.


The chemical process that enables plants and some bacteria to capture the sun’s energy and turn it into food and oxygen. Without photosynthesis there would be no life on Earth.

Physical adaptation

A changing characteristic of an organism that enables it to survive in a particular environment. These changes usually happen very gradually over generations.


Microscopic plants that float near the ocean’s surface in order to capture the sun’s energy and turn it into food. Phytoplankton are the base of the entire food web in the world’s oceans.

Plate Tectonics

The theory that explains the movement of the Earth’s plates.

Primary consumer

A vegetarian organism in the second level of a food chain that feeds off the plants in the first level.


Organisms such as plants and trees that make up the first level of a food chain. They make their own food from the sun’s energy.


End of a glacier

Snow melt

Water produced by melting snow

Trophic level

The feeding position in a food chain. Most food webs are made up of four trophic levels, from the plants that make their own food at the bottom level to the animals that eat other animals at the top level in a food chain.