Dramatic changes across the ice fields of southern Chile • Earth.com

Dramatic changes across the ice fields of southern Chile


Today’s Video of the Day from the USGS describes how the ice fields of southern Chile have changed dramatically over the past three decades.

Landsat images reveal that the Erasmo Glacier retreated by three kilometers from 1987 to 2015. During this time frame, the end of the glacier shifted by about 4.3 kilometers. The melting glacial ice formed a proglacial lake that was cluttered with icebergs. By 2021, the water appears to be ice-free.

Chile is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with coastal storms becoming more frequent and intense. Average temperatures are expected to increase by as much as five degrees Celsius in Chile by the end of this century.

According to a recent report from World Bank, temperatures will continue to increase in Chile throughout the end of the century, regardless of the emissions scenario.

Stretching over 217mi (350km) along much of the southern stretch of Chile and Argentina, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the world’s second-largest outside the polar regions. It is the larger of two remnant parts of the Patagonian Ice Sheet that covered all of southern Chile during the last glacial period.

A significant amount of the ice field is protected under different national parks, such as the Bernardo O’Higgins and Torres del Paine in Chile, and the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina.

Video Credit: USGS

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day