Photo Friday: The Shrinking Patagonian Icefield

Typically obscured by cloud cover and mist, it is difficult to study the glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Icefield from space. However, on April 29, May 1, and May 24, 2016, NASA satellites captured clear images of the glaciers. Compiled into striking mosaics, this data reveals a great deal about the shrinking icefield.

For example, the mosaics obviate the differences between the eastern and western parts of the icefield. Heavy precipitation on the landscape west of the icefield keeps the terrain green and lush, while the eastern regions of retreat are characterized by bare, brown rock. Glacial flour, a fine sediment produced when ice grinds over of bedrock, colors the proglacial lakes a distinct turquoise.

Enjoy observing the Patagonian Icefield through the images below.


Upsala, Jorge Montt, and Occidental Glaciers, detailed below, shown in relation to one another (Source: NASA).


Upsala Glacier, on the eastern edge of the icefield, has retreated constantly since observation began in 1810 (Source: NASA).


The density of icebergs in the fjord before Jorge Montt Glacier shows the intense retreat of glaciers in the icefield (Source: NASA).


Occidental Glacier has retreated only about 1 kilometer since the 1980s (Source: NASA).



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