From: Natalie Muller, Santiago Times
Published June 23, 2009 09:02 AM

Patagonian glaciers melting at unprecedented rates

A preliminary analysis by a team of scientists from NASA and Chile’s Valdivia-based Center of Scientific Studies (CECS), which commenced an expedition to the Ice Field in October 2008, sheds light on the alarming speed at which the glaciers are depleting.

The scientists discovered that the masses of ice in the Patagonia are melting in larger proportions and in much higher alpine zones than in any other part of the world, including Alaska and the Himalayas. Glacier ice accounts for around 75 percent of the world’s fresh water.

"The loss of ice mass in the higher zones is the really new phenomenon," said Gino Casassa, a CECS glaciologist. "At least this is what we are seeing with the preliminary results which we have just received."

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Until recently, it was believed that glacial loss occurred from lower areas, and that snowfall on the higher sections of glaciers would compensate for loss of ice at lower altitudes.

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