Photo Friday: The Melting Glaciers of Patagonia

The Patagonia region receives up to four meters (160 inches) of rain and snow per year, making it one of the wettest and windiest regions on Earth. Unfortunately, the Patagonian glaciers have been shrinking at an accelerated rate over the last century, leaving scientists to battle intense weather conditions to understand why. Studies show, for example, that a majority of the glaciers of Patagonia and Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego have lost nearly 40 percent of their size since 1945. About 18,000 years ago, the North and South Patagonian ice fields were much more expansive, but today span only 13,000 square kilometers. Using NASA’s cloud-free images, thick plumes in the fjords are visible, which show how much sediment the glaciers erode as they slide down toward the ocean, threatening sea level rise.

Learn more about the melting glaciers of Patagonia here.

Images from the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 on April 29, May 1, and May 24, 2016 (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).


An image of the Patagonian ice field’s largest and most notable glacier, Jorge Montt, on April 29, 2016 (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).


Ice would have covered the brown rock of Upsala Glacier, the ice field’s largest and longest glacier (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).


The Occidental Glacier drains ice from a basin through a deep trough (Source: NASA/Earth Observatory).


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