Chilean glaciers “in retreat”

A report has found that Chile's glaciers are in retreat – a phenomenon that may be due to in part to global warming, reported the Agence France-Presse (AFP). Experts say that the melting could pose a huge threat to the fresh water reserves at the southern end of South America.

The report by the Chilean water utility, Dirección General de Aguas de Chile (DGA), indicates that the  Echaurren ice fields – which supply the nearby capital city of Santiago with 70% of its water needs — are receding up to 12 meters per year and could vanish over the next half century. In Campos de Hielo Sur — the third largest ice reserve in the world after Antarctica and Greenland – 20 of the glaciers being studied receded between 1986 and 2007.

"The fact that the glaciers are receding is one of the most dramatic consequences of global warming, because that’s where climate change is most obvious," glaciologist Andres Rivera of the Valdivia scientific studies institute (CECS) told AFP.


However, DGA experts note that the melting or collapse of the ice wall formed at a glacier’s extremity is not due entirely to global warming, but can also depend on depth of the lakes or fjords into which they fall. The melting of glaciers along Chile’s Andes mountain range– home to 76% of South America’s glaciers — is endangering the water supply for people and agriculture.


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