October 10, 2011

Onelli Glacier retreat separation, Argentina

Posted by Mauri Pelto

The Onelli Glacier drains eastward from the South Patagonia Icefield into Lago Onelli (LO), which then connects to Lago Argentino (LA). Lago Onelli has three main glaciers termininating in the lake Aggassiz (A), Onelli(O)and Bolados Glacier (B). The glacier is noted as 13 km long with an area of 84 square kilometers by the Labratorio de Glaciologia in Chile . Warren and Sugden (1993) note an 1800 meter retreat from 1945-1992 for Onelli Glacier and 850 meters for Agassiz Glacier. Eric Shipton was the first to visit this glacier and did so in the company of Ohio State glaciologist John Mercer in 1958. They found Lago Onelli so filled with icebergs that little water could be seen (Shipton, Land of Tempest, 1963). Agassiz and Onelli Glacier were observed to have a shared terminus much like Onelli Glacier and Belados Glacier in 2003, ion contact but one flowing into the fjord from the north with a steep calving face, and one from the northwest (Onelli) with a gentler slope. The focus for Mercer was the age of the moraines beyond the glacier terminus, for Shipton hiking up onto the icefield to explore potential avenues to the crest of the icefield. The glacier is located on the icefield base map image from the Glaciares of Argenina website. . A comparsion of Landsat satellite images indicate the separation and retreat of Bolados (B) and Onelli Glacier(O) from 2000-2010. In 2000 the joint terminus cuts directly across Lago Onelli as one reasonably straight 1.6 km long. By 2003 the glaciers are barely touching and the combined termini are now long 1.8 km long. BY 2008 the glaciers are separated by 1300 meters. The retreat from the 2000 terminus of Onelli Glacier has been 1500-1800 meters depending where on the ice front the retreat is assessed. Theretreat of the last decade of 160 meter/year is a considerable acceleration over the period from 1945-1990. Belados Glacier has retreated 800 meters. The ELA in the satellite images from recent years has been 1300 meters.