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Use of remotely sensed and field data to estimate the contribution of Chilean glaciers to eustatic sea-level rise

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A synthesis of glaciological studies carried out in Chile during recent decades is presented, including inventories and records of glacier variations, fluctuations of which are related to regional climate change and their contribution to eustatic sea-level rise. Based upon satellite imagery, aerial photographs and historical records, new data for 20 glaciers are presented. These new data are combined with previous records to cover the historical variations of 95 Chilean glaciers. Of these glaciers, only 6% show a net advance during the study period, 6% show no significant change, while 88% have retreated. The contribution of Chilean glaciers to eustatic sea-level rise has been estimated to be approximately 8.2% of the worldwide contribution of small glaciers on Earth during the last 51 years. Most of the glacier variations are thought to have been driven by a temperature increase, which has been documented by several stations in Chile. Anomalies in rainfall, and the decreasing trend in annual precipitation shown at a few stations, have probably also contributed to glacier recession. Based on observed climatic trends, it is expected that the glacier retreat will continue, that the mass balance will continue to show a negative trend and that thinning rates will increase. All of these changes will ultimately affect the availability of water resources in Chile that depend on glacierized basins.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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