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Glacier area changes in the central Chilean and Argentinean Andes 1955–2013/14


To improve our knowledge of glacier area changes in the central Chilean and Argentinean Andes (32°9′S–33°4′S), two new glacier inventories from 1989 to 2013/14 are compared with a reinterpreted inventory from 1955. Comparisons show glacier area retreat of 30 ± 3% since 1955, decreasing from 134 to 94 km2 in 2013/14, whilst the annual rate of area loss showed a small increase (insignificant) between the periods of 1955–1989 and 1989–2013/14. Separate analysis of the 1989 and 2013/14 inventories, including a larger sample, revealed a higher rate of glacier change compared with the smaller samples of these inventories. Additionally, an analysis at ~5 year intervals for six major glaciers (1955–2013) indicates large variability in response times and area loss magnitudes. Glacier Olivares Alfa, for example, lost 63% of its ice area, while the Juncal Norte Glacier lost only 10% (1955–2013). The findings from this study improve our current knowledge base concerning widespread glacier decline in the southern Andes, and furthers monitoring efforts in this poorly described region of the world, a region containing vital water resources for populated areas in South America.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Correspondence: Jeppe Kjeldahl Malmros <>
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