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Recent glacier variations at the Aconcagua basin, central Chilean Andes

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Abstract:

The majority of glaciers in central Chile have receded in recent decades, from >50 m to only a few meters per year, mainly in response to an increase in the 0°C isotherm altitude. The Aconcagua river basin (33° S) is one of the major glaciated basins in central Chile, with 121 km2 of ice in 2003. An earlier inventory using 1955 aerial photographs yielded a total surface area of 151 km2, implying a reduction in glacier area of 20% (0.63 km2 a–1) over the 48 years. Photographic stereo models, high-resolution satellite images (Landsat, ASTER) and SRTM data have been used to delineate glacier basins. A focus on Glaciar Juncal Norte, one of the largest glaciers in the basin, allows a more detailed analysis of changes. The glacier has exhibited a smaller reduction (14%) between 1955 and 2006, and the resulting elevation changes over this smaller period are not significant. The above reduction rates are lower than in other glaciers of central Chile and Argentina. This trend emphasizes water runoff availability in a river where most of the water in the dry summers is generated by glaciers and snowpack, and where most of the superficial water rights are already allocated. Ongoing hydrological research including modelling of future water runoff will improve our understanding.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/172756408784700572

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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.

    Beginning in 2016, content will be available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/annals-of-glaciology.

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