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.
- Climate Change Impacts Ice Field: Chile and Argentina Face Water Storage Issues (scienceworldreport.com)
- Chile and Argentina may face critical water storage issues (Science Daily) (desertification.wordpress.com)
- Climate: Big changes projected for Patagonia ice fields (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Study: Global warming puts South American water supplies at risk (upi.com)
- Global warming five million years ago could have led to Antarctic ice sheets melting and sea levels rising by 60ft (bajandreamer.wordpress.com)