Glaciares de Chile


"Current knowledge of the Southern Patagonia Icefield"

Casassa, G., Rivera, A., Aniya, M. & Naruse R. (2002) : «Current knowledge of the Southern Patagonia Icefield» In: The Patagonian Icefields. A unique natural laboratory for environmental and climate change studies. CASASSA, G., F. SEPÚLVEDA & R. SINCLAIR (Eds.) Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, pp. 67-83.

Resumen / Abstract.

We present here a review of the current glaciological knowlegde of the Southern Patagonia Icefield (SPI). With an area of 13,000 km² and 48 major glaciers, the SPI is the largest ice mass in the Southern Hemisphere outside of Antarctica. The glacier inventory and recent glacier variations are presented, as well as ice thickness data and its variations, ice velocity, ablation, accumulation, hydrological characteristics, climate changes and implications for sea level rise. Most of the glaciers have been retreating, with a few in a state of equilibrium and advance. Glacier retreat is interpreted primarily as a response ro regional atmospheric warming and to a lesser extent, to precipitation decrease observed during the last century in this region. The general retreat of PSI has resulted in an estimated contribution of 6% to the global rise in sea level due to melting of small glaciers and ice caps. Many glaciological characteristics of the SPI, in particular its mass balance, need to be determined more precisely.