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