EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Drastic glacier retreat at Pico de Orizaba (19º N, Mexico) since the Little Ice Age

Jesús Alcalá Reygosa1, Néstor Campos2, Melaine Le Roy3, Bijeesh Kozhikkodan Veettil4, and Adam Emmer5,6
Jesús Alcalá Reygosa et al.
  • 1Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Ciudad de México, Mexico (
  • 2Faculty of Natural and Exact Sciences, University of Playa Ancha, Chile (
  • 3Université Grenoble Alpes, Université Savoie Mont Blanc, CNRS, EDYTEM, 73000 Chambéry, France (
  • 4Institute of Research and Development, Duy Tan University, Da Nang 550000, Vietnam (
  • 5The Czech Academy of Sciences, Global Change Research Institute; 603 00 Brno, Czechia (
  • 6Charles University, Faculty of Science; 128 43 Prague, Czechia (

The Little Ice Age (LIA) occurred between CE 1250 and 1850 and is considered a period of moderate cold conditions, especially recorded in the northern hemisphere. Numerous recent studies provide robust evidence of glacier advances worldwide during the LIA and a dramatic retreat since then. These studies combined investigation of moraine records, paintings, topographical and glaciological measurements as well as multitemporal aerial and terrestrial photographs and satellite images. For instance, post-LIA glaciers retreat amounts ~60 % in the Alps (Paul et al., 2020), ~88 % in the Pyrenees (Rico et al., 2016) and 89 % in the Bolivian Andes (Ramírez et al., 2001). However, there is scarce knowledge in Mexico about the glacier changes since the LIA. The reconstructions are limited to the Iztaccíhualt volcano where Schneider et al. (2008) established a glacier retreat of 95 %.

Here, we reconstruct the glacier evolution since the LIA to CE 2015 of the Mexican highest ice-capped volcano: Pico de Orizaba (19° 01´ N, 97° 16´W, 5,675 m a.s.l.). Due to Pico de Orizaba is in the outer Tropic, the most plausible scenario is a glacier evolution similar to the Bolivian Andes and especially to the Iztaccíhualt volcano. To carry out this research, we mapped the glacier area during the LIA, based on moraine record, and the area during 1945, 1958, 1971, 1988, 1994, 2003 and 2015 using a previous map elaborated by Palacios and Vázquez-Selem (1996), aerial orthophotographs and satellite images. The geographical mapping and the calculus of area, minimum altitude and volume of the glacier were generated with the software ArcGIS 10.2.2. The results show that glacier area retreated 92% between the LIA (8.8 km2) and 2015 (0.67 km2), being a drastic glacier loss in agreement with the Bolivian Andes and Iztaccíhualt. Therefore, mexican glaciers have experienced the major shrunk since LIA that implies a highly sensitive reaction to global warming.

This research was supported by the Project UNAM-DGAPA-PAPIIT grant IA105318.


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How to cite: Alcalá Reygosa, J., Campos, N., Le Roy, M., Kozhikkodan Veettil, B., and Emmer, A.: Drastic glacier retreat at Pico de Orizaba (19º N, Mexico) since the Little Ice Age, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10863,, 2020