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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/11

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THE traveler who skirts the coast of Greenland, and sufficiently far from it to permit Mm to look over the rugged cliffs which almost everywhere dip abruptly into the dark blue ocean, sees above these a long, undulating white crest, beyond which are only sky and conjecture. The white crest glistens awhile in the bright sunlight, elsewhere it disappears in the hazy mist which silently crawls over the landscape and shrouds it in a more or less permanent veil of obscurity. Between the cliffs and bluffs, whose crests rise well into the plane of respectable mountain height, soaring to three, four, and six thousand feet elevation, broad valleys open out to the sea, which here show a carpet of beautiful and inviting green, and elsewhere lie immobile beneath vast sheets of ice which have invaded them and remained possessors of the soil. In some places the ice sheets quite touch the sea, in others they mark a white line across the valley, which is at once the termination of the ice and of the vegetation which crawls up to it. These are the Greenland glaciers, whose tongues the eye readily unites with the interior ice crest, the snow parent to which they owe their birth.

In its fundamental construction a Greenland glacier is much like every other glacier; it neither agrees absolutely with nor differs essentially from the glaciers of the Alpine type. It is only in the matter of size that it can lay claim to special distinction. If the snows of Switzerland and Norway build up glaciers of possibly two, three, or four miles' width, those of Greenland are compacted into ice rivers of from two to five times this width, and exceptionally into streams with perhaps ten or even fifteen times