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Recent ice dynamics and mass balance of Jorge Montt Glacier, Southern Patagonia Icefield

  • Francisca Bown (a1), Andrés Rivera (a1) (a2), Michał Pętlicki (a1), Claudio Bravo (a3), Jonathan Oberreuter (a1) and Carlos Moffat (a4)...


The Southern Patagonia Icefield (SPI) withdrawal in recent decades shows contrasting behaviours between adjacent basins. One of the basins with highest volumetric losses is located at northernmost SPI. We refer to Jorge Montt tidewater glacier (48° 30′S/73° 30′W, 445 km2 in 2018), which retreated 2.7 km between 2011 and 2018 and thinned at rates of up to 21 m a−1 over this period. Based on the retreat record, remote-sensing imagery, field data, a mass-balance model and a calving parameterisation, we attempted to differentiate climatic-induced changes (i.e. surface mass balance) and dynamic responses (i.e. calving fluxes). The surface mass balance reached −4.15 km3 w.e. a−1 between 2012 and 2017. When frontal ablation is included, the net mass balance is −17.79 km3 w.e. a−1. This represents a change of trend compared with modelling estimations of positive surface mass balance prior to 2010. This shift is attributed to higher ablation rates given that accumulation is known to have increased between 1980 and 2015. The available evidence, therefore, indicates that frontal ablation is the main factor, supported by observed rates at Jorge Montt as high as 3.81 km3 w.e. a−1 in 2015, with ice velocities peaking at 11 km a−1.

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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.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Francisca Bown, E-mail:


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