A little-studied mass of ice in South America is undergoing some big changes: The Southern Patagonian Ice Field lost ice volume at a 50 percent faster rate between 2000-2012 than it did between 1975-2000, according to new analysis of digital elevation models performed by Cornell researchers.
The researchers from Cornell’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences developed a new way of using digital topography maps obtained from a stereo camera on a NASA satellite to draw their conclusions. T
Their study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.
Between 2000 and 2012, they said, the ice field, which is about three times the size of Rhode Island and is located in the southern Patagonia Andes of Chile and Argentina, was rapidly losing volume at many of its largest outlet glaciers. In most cases, the thinning extended to the highest elevations of the ice field. Overall, the ice field is showing significant mass loss—about 1.5 times the loss rate recorded between 1975 and 2000 in previous studies.