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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 2 | Copyright

Special issue: Climate variations in South America over the last 2000 years

Clim. Past, 8, 403-414, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-8-403-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 05 Mar 2012

Research article | 05 Mar 2012

Little Ice Age advance and retreat of Glaciar Jorge Montt, Chilean Patagonia

A. Rivera1,2, M. Koppes3, C. Bravo1, and J. C. Aravena4 A. Rivera et al.
  • 1Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECS), Valdivia, Chile
  • 2Departamento de Geografía, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • 3Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 4Centro de Estudios del Cuaternario Fuego-Patagonia y Antártica (Fundación CEQUA) Conicyt Regional R07C1002., Punta Arenas, Chile

Abstract. Glaciar Jorge Montt (48°20' S/73°30' W), one of the main tidewater glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Icefield (SPI), has experienced the greatest terminal retreat observed in Patagonia during the past century, with a recession of 19.5 km between 1898 and 2011. This retreat has revealed trees laying subglacially until 2003. These trees were dated using radiocarbon, yielding burial ages between 460 and 250 cal yrs BP. The presence of old growth forest during those dates indicates that Glaciar Jorge Montt was upvalley of its present position before the commonly recognized Little Ice Age (LIA) period in Patagonia. The post-LIA retreat was most likely triggered by climatically induced changes during the 20th century; however, Glaciar Jorge Montt has responded more dramatically than its neighbours. The retreat of Jorge Montt opened a 19.5 km long fjord since 1898, which reaches depths in excess of 390 m. The bathymetry is well correlated with glacier retreat rates, suggesting that dynamic responses of the glacier are at least partially connected to near buoyancy conditions at the ice front, resulting in high calving fluxes, accelerating thinning rates and rapid ice velocities.

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