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

Multi-temporal mass balance changes of the Northern Patagonian Icefield from 1975 to 2016

Etienne Berthier1, Ines Dussaillant1,2, Fanny Brun2, and Vincent Favier2
Etienne Berthier et al.
  • 1LEGOS/CNRS, Toulouse, France (
  • 2IGE, Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble, France

The northern Patagonian Icefield (NPI) is the second largest ice mass in Patagonia (3740 km²). Estimation of recent volume changes confirm an acceleration of ice loss in the last decades compared to the mean mass loss since the Little Ice Age. However, Icefield-wide responses at shorter time scales (5-25 yrs) are still poorly documented and not well understood.

We compare five digital elevation models (DEM) acquired between 1975 and 2016 over the NPI: SPOT6 and SPOT7 DEMs for year 2016, SPOT5-HRS DEMs for 2012 and 2005, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission DEM (SRTM) for year 2000 and the earlier Chilean military institute cartography (IGM) derived from aerial photographs acquired in 1975. We derive cefield-wide mass balances during four different time periods (1975-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2012, 2012-2016). Our results suggest an acceleration of mass loss from 1975 to 2016. Although error bars are large, we suggest a shift from moderately negative icefield-wide mass balance rates before 2000 (of the order of -0.6 m w.e. yr-1), towards larger mass losses during the first decade of the 21st century(of the order of -0.8 m w.e. yr-1) and even more negative value from 2012 to 2016 (-1.2 ± 0.2 m w.e. yr-1).

But these results must be considered cautiously. The 1975-2000 map of elevation change shows a thickening rate of over 1 m/yr which are not supported by image analysis. We stress the need to construct a revised 1975 NPI topography in order to document the NPI mass balance observations back to 1975 with improved confidence.

How to cite: Berthier, E., Dussaillant, I., Brun, F., and Favier, V.: Multi-temporal mass balance changes of the Northern Patagonian Icefield from 1975 to 2016, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18706,, 2020


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