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A comparison between the 319 cirques that contain glaciers and a sample of 240 empty cirques in the Rocky Mountains shows that in the present climatic situation, landforms are strong factors in determining the locations of glaciers. An optimum glacier location is a large cirque facing northeast, with a planimetric shape of width greater than length, high steep walls, a pass located to the windward, and a peak to the southwest. Glaciers survive in the present climatic conditions because of a geomorphic feedback system, whereby glaciers are protected by cirque forms that owe their morphology to glacial processes.

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