June 21, 2024

Ice Giants in Distress: An Urgent Call to Protect Patagonian Ice Caps from Climate Change

1 min read
The ice caps in Patagonia are thinning by a meter annually

The Patagonian ice caps, located in Argentina and Chile, are the largest in the southern hemisphere after Antarctica, covering about 16,000 square kilometers. Despite their vast size, these ice caps are relatively unknown. A recent study published in the journal ‘Communications Earth & Environment’ by the Nature group re-evaluated the volume of the Patagonian ice fields using remote sensing and satellite imagery. The study revealed that these ice caps are highly vulnerable to climate change, containing 40 times more ice than all the glaciers in the European Alps.

Led by Johannes Furst from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, an international research group estimated that the Patagonian ice caps hold 5,351 cubic kilometers of ice, with some glaciers reaching thicknesses of 1,400 meters. The study highlighted the dynamic nature of these glaciers, with some retreating while others remain stable. The retreat of the glacial fronts is influenced by the depth of the lake basins they flow into, with faster retreat in deeper basins.

The speed of the Patagonian glaciers, exceeding that of European Alps glaciers, results in an annual loss of one meter of ice. This loss not only impacts the region’s water resources but also the surrounding ecosystem. Concerns are rising due to the increased risk of extreme weather events affecting the region. The study emphasizes the urgent need to address

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