Watzmann Glacier

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The Watzmann Glacier is seen in the center of the photograph. Berchtesgaden - Watzmann- Massiv von Osten.jpg
The Watzmann Glacier is seen in the center of the photograph.

The Watzmann Glacier is one of the five recognised glaciers in Germany. [1] It is located below the famous east face of the Watzmann in the Watzmann cirque and is surrounded by the Watzmanngrat arête, the Watzmannkindern and the Kleiner Watzmann.

Watzmann mountain

The Watzmann is a mountain in the Bavarian Alps south of the village of Berchtesgaden. It is the third highest in Germany, and the highest located entirely on German territory.

Cirque An amphitheatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion

A cirque is an amphitheatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion. Alternative names for this landform are corrie and cwm. A cirque may also be a similarly shaped landform arising from fluvial erosion.

Arête A narrow ridge of rock which separates two valleys

An arête is a narrow ridge of rock which separates two valleys. It is typically formed when two glaciers erode parallel U-shaped valleys. Arêtes can also form when two glacial cirques erode headwards towards one another, although frequently this results in a saddle-shaped pass, called a col. The edge is then sharpened by freeze-thaw weathering, and the slope on either side of the arete steepened through mass wasting events and the erosion of exposed, unstable rock. The word ‘arête’ is actually French for edge or ridge; similar features in the Alps are described with the German equivalent term Grat.

The size of the glacier reduced from around 30 hectares (74 acres) in 1820 until it split into a few fields of firn, but between 1965 and 1980 it advanced significantly again [2] and now has an area of 10.1 hectares (25 acres). [3] Its classification as a glacier is not undisputed by scientists, however, due to its size and its low flow velocity.

Firn granular snow, especially on the upper part of a glacier, where it has not yet been compressed into ice

Firn is partially compacted névé, a type of snow that has been left over from past seasons and has been recrystallized into a substance denser than névé. It is ice that is at an intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice. Firn has the appearance of wet sugar, but has a hardness that makes it extremely resistant to shovelling. Its density generally ranges from 0.4 g/cm³ to 0.83 g/cm³, and it can often be found underneath the snow that accumulates at the head of a glacier.

Above and to the west of the icefield lie the remains of a Ju 52 transport aircraft which crashed in October 1940.

Amongst the other permanent snow and icefields nearby are the Eiskapelle ("Ice Chapel"), which is well-known due to its easy accessibility from St. Bartholomä and may be the lowest-lying, permanent snowfield in the Alps, and the Schöllhorneis on the east face itself.

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  1. The Watzmann has been recognised as a glacier by the Commission for Glaciology of the Bavarian Academy of Science since 1959
  2. http://www.lrz.de/~bayerischegletscher/wmg.htm
  3. Watzmanngletscher - Topographie at www.lrz.de. Accessed on 24 Dec 2010

Coordinates: 47°33′20″N12°55′49″E / 47.5555°N 12.9302°E / 47.5555; 12.9302

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.