Spatial and temporal variations of glacier extent across the Southern Patagonian Icefield since the 1970s
A. White and L. Copland
Department of Geography, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Received: 10 Jul 2012 – Accepted for review: 28 Nov 2012 – Discussion started: 02 Jan 2013
Abstract. A combination of Landsat and ASTER satellite scenes, from the 1970s to late-2000s, were used to quantify changes in the extent of glaciers in 130 basins across the Southern Patagonian Icefield (SPI). There was extensive net overall loss, with a reduction in ice area of ∼ 420 km2 (∼ 3% of the SPI) between 1984/86 and 2008/10. For glaciers which retreated, the mean annual loss rate was 0.19 km2 yr−1 between 1976/79 and 1984/86, 0.16 km2 yr−1 between 1984/86 and 2000/02, and 0.16 km2 yr−1 between 2000/02 and 2008/10. Since the 1980s, glaciers located in the northwest quadrant of the SPI experienced the highest mean annual loss rates, at 0.22 km2 yr−1, while those in the southwest experienced the lowest mean annual loss rates, at 0.06 km2 yr−1. NCEP/NCAR climate reanalysis indicates that mean monthly surface air temperatures have increased by an average of +0.12 °C decade−1 (p = 0.0002) since 1950, particularly during the winter season, resulting in a~change from mean negative to mean positive monthly winter temperatures and the earlier onset of spring. Increased winter temperatures have likely caused a switch in precipitation type from snow to rain and an associated reduction in glacier mass balance, even though there has been no significant trend in total annual precipitation over this period.
White, A. and Copland, L.: Spatial and temporal variations of glacier extent across the Southern Patagonian Icefield since the 1970s, The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 1-34, doi:10.5194/tcd-7-1-2013, 2013.