GeoPicture of the Week: Patagonia’s shrinking ice fields

Image Credit: NASA/Landsat 8


The photo was taken with NASA’s Landat 8 satellite. Landsat is the longest-running enterprise for acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth, with the first one being launched in 1972.

Since the end of the Little Ice Age, the ice fields of Patagonia and other parts of South America have been shrinking as global temperatures have increased. A number of studies have investigated these changes and found consistent shrinking in ice mass. This is highly worrying because several communities downstream rely on the glaciers for a steady water supply.

“The focus is usually on the bigger ice fields, such as the Northern Patagonia ice field, the Southern Patagonia ice field,and on tropical glaciers,” said Mauri Pelto, a glaciologist at Nichols College. Many researchers focus on the larger ice fields because they have seen a larger mass loss.

Satellite imagery has proven invaluable in our quest to better understand Earth’s changing climate and how it will affect us all. For more information, check out NASA’s post.

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