Glacier changes on Sierra Velluda massif, Chile (37° S): mountain glaciers of an intensively-used mid-latitude landscape
A. Fernández1, A. Santana1, E. Jaque1, C. Martínez1, and R. Sáez21Department of Geography, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile 2Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas, La Serena, Chile
Received: 22 Sep 2010 – Accepted for review: 08 Feb 2011 – Discussion started: 25 Feb 2011
Abstract. The central-southern section of Chile is defined as one of the Latin American hot spots in the last IPCC Report due to the impact of glacier retreat on water resources, the transitional character of the climate, and its importance in terms of agricultural and forestry activities. In order to provide a better understanding of glacier behavior in this zone, this paper analyzes the volumetric changes of glaciers in the Sierra Velluda, located in the upper Bío Bío River Basin. Bibliographic sources, satellite images, and DEMs were used to estimate frontal, areal, and volumetric changes. An analysis of significance was performed in order to provide accurate estimations of the fluctuations. The results indicate that Sierra Velluda glaciers have suffered a significant reduction since the 1960s, despite some short periods of positive fluctuations. A maximum position of a glacier for the year 1828 was identified, which is in concordance with other proxies registered elsewhere in Chile. These changes agree with measurements of glacier fluctuation elsewhere in Chile. While short-term fluctuations are consistent with the inter-annual precipitation variability, lake levels records, and a warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the general shrinkage agrees with the shift of the ENSO (PDO) in 1976. Therefore, it is proposed that Sierra Velluda's glaciers are highly sensitive to high frequency climatic fluctuations and even to inter-annual variability. Considering that models project a reduction in Andean precipitation and an altitudinal increase in the 0 °C isotherm, these ice bodies are expected to continue to shrink.
Fernández, A., Santana, A., Jaque, E., Martínez, C., and Sáez, R.: Glacier changes on Sierra Velluda massif, Chile (37° S): mountain glaciers of an intensively-used mid-latitude landscape, The Cryosphere Discuss., 5, 685-720, doi:10.5194/tcd-5-685-2011, 2011.