New Publications | Recent research on Patagonian glacial lakes

Glacier Patagonia Ice Nature Torres Del Pa

Two new studies on glacial lakes in the Patagonian Andes provide observations and further insights on the effects of climate change in the region, from formartion of new glacial lakes to changes in biotic diversity in glacier-fed systems.

The first article, glacial lakes in the Central and Patagonian Andes, is a first large-scale census of glacial lakes in Chile and Argentina, providing a better understanding of lake development in this region and a basis for Glacial Lake Outbust Floods (GLOF) risk assessment. The second article, on biotic diversity in glacier-fed systems, describes how these isolated, small glacier-fed streams - and the systems they support - appear highly vulnerable to global warming. 


Results from the glacial lakes census study reveal that glacial lakes across the study area have increased in number (43%) and areal extent (7%) between 1986 and 2016, corresponding to a glacial water volume increase of 65 km3 during the 30-year observation period, with 21 previously unreported GLOF events identified through analysis of Landsat imagery. From an ecosystems perspective, the biotic diversity study concludes that glacier retreat threatens major ecosystem services for Patagonian inhabitants such as water supply, hydrological regulation, recreation and tourism.

The papers were recently published online and can be accessed from the corresponding journal websites: Global and Planetary Change and Science of the Total Environment.