Glaciologyglaciers, or more generally the study of ice and natural phenomena that involve ice. It is an interdisciplinary earth science that integrates geology, climatology, meteorology, hydrology, biology, and ecology. The presence of ice on Mars and Europa brings in an extraterrestrial component to the field.
Areas of study within glaciology include glacial history and the reconstruction of past glaciation patterns, effects of glaciers on climate and vice versa, the dynamics of ice movement, the contributions of glaciers to erosion, lifeforms that live in the ice, and so forth.
Unsurprisingly, glaciology is one of the key areas supported by polar research.
There are two general categories of glaciation which glaciologists distinguish: alpine glaciation, accumulations or "rivers of ice" confined to valleys; and continental glaciation, unrestricted accumulations which once covered much of the northern continents.
The word glacier is derived from the Latin glacies, meaning ice or frost.