Wrapping up this three-post series on a pair of day hikes from El Chalten, Argentina, is this mini-gallery of the Glaciar Grande and the lake it overlooks, Laguna Torre.
Even shrouded in clouds the scene does an admirable job advertising this corner of Los Glaciares National Park as the hiker attraction that it is. It’s also, like the majority of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (wiki|map) that it sits in, a “kind of poster child for rapidly changing glacier systems”.
That’s according to “Ice loss from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, South America, between 2000 and 2012”, a late 2012 study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
From an abstract on DailyClimate.org:
Ice fields in southern South America are rapidly losing volume and in most cases thinning at even the highest elevations, contributing to sea-level rise at “substantially higher” rates than observed from the 1970s through the 1990s
The rapid melting, based on satellite observations, suggests the ice field’s contribution to global sea-level rise has increased by half since the end of the 20th century, jumping from 0.04 millimeters per year to about .07 mm, and accounting for 2 percent of annual sea-level rise since 1998.
Warming air temperatures contributed to the thinning throughout the mountain range, [the report ] noted. And the warmer temperatures increased the chances that rain – as opposed to snow – would fall on and around the glaciers. That double threat increases the amount of water under the glaciers, decreasing friction and moving more ice to the oceans.
This ice field, along with its northern neighbor, comprise the largest mass of ice in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica.
According to the study, which compared satellite imagery over a 12-year period beginning in 2000, found that glaciers in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field thinned by an average of six feet per year.
I left this rocky lake shore with the same contentedly queasy feeling I had after leaving other glaciers, before and since, behind: happy that I made the opportunity to see them while they were still around.
Here’s a 45-second timelapse of the lake I shot over the span of about 25 minutes with my GoPro. The cool soundtrack is Broken Music Boxes by Ilya Monosov. I chose it because the description for his album Vinyl Document #1 –a record that focuses on sounds derived from broken or otherwise mistreated machines– fits well. Please check out more of his excellent work.
For posterity’s sake, here’s the GoPro at work and below that me, who is always at work. 🙂
Check out the previous two posts from this series:
~ Hiking Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Trail: El Chalten Day Hike 1
~ Patagonia’s Laguna Torre Trail – El Chalten Day Hike 2
And finally, this post is linked up with Travel Photo Monday #34 on Travel Photo Discovery. The direct link is here. Check it out!
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Last modified: September 28, 2015