September 21, 2015
Acodado Glacier, Chile Rapid Retreat 1987-2015
Posted by Mauri Pelto
Landsat image comparison 1987 and 2015
Loriaux and Casassa (2013) examined the expansion of lakes of the Northern Patagonia Ice Cap. From 1945 to 2011 lake area expanded 65%, 66 square kilometers. Rio Acodado has two large glacier termini at its headwater, HPN2 and HPN3. that are fed by the same accumulation zone and comprise the Acodado Glacier. The glacier separates from Steffen Glacier at 900 m. The lakes at the terminus of each were first observed in 1976 and had an area of 2.4 and 5.0 square kilometers in 2011. (Loriaux and Casassa, 2013). Willis et al (2012) noted a 3.5 m loss per year from 2001-2011 in the ablation zone of the Acodado Glacier, they also note annual velocity is less than 300 m/year in the ablation zone. Davies and Glasser (2012) noted that the Acodado Glacier termini, HPN2 and HPN3, had retreated at a steadily increasing rate from 1870 to 2011. Here we examine the substantial changes in Acodado Glacier from 1987 to 2015 using Landsat imagery.
Digital Globe image of Acodado Glacier and the termini HPN2 and HPN3.
In HPN2 terminates at the red arrow in 1987 and HPN3 at the yellow arrow, the snowline is at the purple dots at 1000 m. By 2000 the glacier has retreated from the red and yellow arrow by 400 m and 900 m respectively, and the snowline is at 1100 m. In 2014 there are many large icebergs in the lake at the terminus of HPN3, these are from recent calving retreat. This is not an area where the lakes develop even seasonal lake ice cover. The snowline is again at 1100 m. In 2015 it is apparent that HPN2 has retreated 2100 m from the red arrow to the pink arrow. HPN3 has retreated 3200 m from the yellow to the orange arrow. The snowline is again at 1100 m. The retreat accelerated after 2000 for both glaciers. This high of a snowline indicates warm temperatures generating high ablation rates, which will lead to more retreat. HPN3 has a sharp rise in elevation 2.5 km above the terminus, before it joins the main Acodado Glacier, it should retreat rapidly toward this point and then calving will end and retreat will slow. The retreat here is synonymous with the pattern observed at other Northern Patagonia Ice Cap outlet glaciers each with rapid calving retreats in expanding proglacial lakes; Fraenkel Glacier, Gualas and Reichert Glacierand Steffen Glacier.
Landsat image from 1987