Unraveling the mysteries of the glaciers in Patagonia

Among the most spectacular and precious landforms, glaciers hold inestimable information about climate changes and life on our planet. Glacier ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet, storing an estimated 70 percent of the world’s supply. We went to discover one of them: the Perito Moreno glacier in the heart of Argentinian Patagonia.

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This little video summarizes our excursion:

 

Of course, as we are in Argentina, no excursion without a maté.

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Regularly exploratory scientific expeditions are organized to study them and to take precious ice samples. What interests many scientific groups from very different fields are the cryoconites.

Simply explained it is dust carried by the wind on the glacier. The darker color of the dust particle will lead to more heat absorption and the creation of little holes. Their size?  1 to 50 centimeters wide. These holes frequently contain liquid water and thus provide a niche for cold-adapted microorganisms. Actually, it is a real forest of microorganisms living in these little holes.

 

The Perito Moreno glacier was spectacular. I am often like a kid, easily amazed in front of the beauties of nature. But in front of this 70 meters frozen wall, even the most bored soul couldn’t stay ice cold.

 

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The 70 meters height is only the visible part, the approximative depth below the surface is 160 meters.  

 

Those thinking that glaciology is only a world of male researchers should meet Michele Koppes from the University of British Columbia, she works in the iciest places on earth to understand the landscape response to climate change. Of course, she is not the only one.

 

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