Chile and Argentina may face water storage issues due to climate change

Patagonia ice sheets

Scientists have revealed that new research suggests that Chile and Argentina may face critical water storage issues due to rain-bearing westerly winds over South America’s Patagonian Ice-Field moving southward. This could result in drought in the area and lead to other complications.

Researchers have uncovered changes in the ice-sheet thickness in the North and Central Patagonian Ice-Field using rare isotopes. Scientists then also used a separate collection of ocean cores to determine when the ice-sheet decline occurred.

“We found that precipitation brought to this region by Southern Hemisphere westerlies played an important role in the glaciation of the North Patagonian Ice-Field,” said Chris Fogwill from the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in a news release. “Our research has shown this ice-field significantly reduced in size when those winds moved southward.”

Around 15,000 to 19,000 years ago, there was a decline in this ice sheet and scientists found this decline coincided with the southernward movement of the westerlies. Lack of precipitation caused by this movement, together with additional warming, cause a sharp decline in glaciers and no seasonal recovery.

This means bad news for the region as the ice sheets play a huge role in the hydrology of this area. If winds shift, Argentina and Chile could face harsher conditions as it will affect the seasonal water storage capacity of the regions.


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