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

Morphological and ice dynamic changes induced by the formation of proglacial lakes in Exploradores Glacier, Patagonia.

Inigo Irarrazaval Bustos1, Alejandro Dussaillant2, Pablo Iribarren Anacona3, Sebastián Vivero1, Jorge O'Kuinghtton4, and Gregoire Mariethoz1
Inigo Irarrazaval Bustos et al.
  • 1Université de Lausanne, Institut des dynamiques de la surface terrestre, Lausanne, Switzerland (
  • 2Universidad de Aysén, Coyhaique, Patagonia-Aysén, Chile
  • 3Instituto de Ciencias de la Tierra, Faculty of Science, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile
  • 4Dirección General de Aguas, Ministerio de Obras Públicas, Coyhaique, Chile

Glacier dynamics are sensitive to the formation and expansion of proglacial lakes. Proglacial lakes development can accelerate glacier retreat rate by flotation of the terminus, formation of a calving front, and increased ice flow. Understanding the impacts of proglacial lakes formation and development, which are reported to be growing in number in Patagonia and other regions, is relevant to improve the understanding and prediction of glacier response to climate change.

This study aims to characterize and monitor recent spatial and temporal changes in the lower section of the Exploradores Glacier (15 km2), located at the northeast section of the Northern Patagonian Icefield. A proglacial lake located at the east margin has been expanding by calving since the early 2000s, and supraglacial ponds located at the front of the glacier could coalesce to form a larger proglacial lake.

We performed repeated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys to obtain a series of high-resolution orthoimages (10cm/pixel) and digital elevation models (DEM) of the lower section of Exploradores Glacier. The series consists in 7 orthoimages and DEMs across one year (March 2019 to March 2020), forming in a dataset that is the first of its kind for a Patagonian glacier. The images are processed by photogrammetric technique structure from motion using Pix4D software, and are co-registered using stable off glacier tie-points. Next, the orthoimages are correlated using a feature tracking algorithm (IMCORR) to derive glacier flow velocities. Surface lowering and morphological changes is obtained by DEM differencing analysis. In addition, an aerial photographic archive (Aniya et al. 2017) providing a 20-year observation record is incorporated in the analysis. The results of the imagery analysis are compared with in-situ ablation stakes measurement during the summer season 2019-2020, which indicates downwasting rates up to 100mm/day. This allows estimating rates of proglacial lake expansion at the east margin, supraglacial lakes coalescence, and increase in debris-covered area.

This study contributes to a better understanding of the processes that occur during a relatively short period in a highly transient glacier. Future work will include modelling ice dynamics to better characterize and predict the response of the glacier to the development of proglacial lakes.

How to cite: Irarrazaval Bustos, I., Dussaillant, A., Iribarren Anacona, P., Vivero, S., O'Kuinghtton, J., and Mariethoz, G.: Morphological and ice dynamic changes induced by the formation of proglacial lakes in Exploradores Glacier, Patagonia., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11388,, 2020


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