Argentina: Photos show Patagonia’s massive, melting glaciers

The Perito Moreno glacier, in Los Glaciares National Park, is part of the Southern Patagonian Icefield, the third-largest reservoir of fresh water in the world.

 

Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier calves blocks of ice near the city of El Calafate...Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier calves blocks of ice near the city of El Calafate, in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, December 15, 2009. Scientists warn that glaciers in the Andes, which limit Argentina with Chile are melting because of the effects of climate change. According to studies, these accumulations of ice are thawed at a pace so fast that it could disappear in 25 years. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (ARGENTINA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT TRAVEL)

The glacier is named after 19th-century Argentine explorer Francisco Pascasio Moreno, who played a major role in keeping the southern sliver of the continent from becoming part of neighbouring Chile.

Located in Argentina’s Santa Cruz province, most of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares are in retreat and have been shrinking steadily over the past 50 years due to warming temperatures, according to a report by the European Space Agency (ESA), which monitors the effects of climate change from above.

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Disaster scenarios linked to a rise in global temperatures include the release of trillions of litres of water currently locked in ice sheets like the polar ice caps and Patagonia’s icefield.

The stakes couldn’t be higher: Nine of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, according to NASA.

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This issue is especially pressing in Patagonia, the sparsely-populated and mountainous region straddling Argentina and Chile.

Glaciers — the lifeblood of Patagonia (and a major source of fresh water for the rest of the world) — are melting rapidly throughout the region, and the rate at which they are disappearing is only set to increase.

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A 2012 study from the University of London surveyed 626 Patagonian glaciers using historical and satellite data. The authors found that 90.2% of them had receded since 1870, the first year data was available. Even more alarming, the pace at which the glaciers are shrinking is accelerating. The observed glaciers shrank twice as rapidly from 2001 to 2011, than from 1870 to 1986, according to the study’s authors.

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Source | CBC News

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