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Chile's Water Utility Reports Echaurren Ice Fields - 70% Of Santiago's Supply - Retreating 12M/Year

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-08-08 01:22 PM
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Chile's Water Utility Reports Echaurren Ice Fields - 70% Of Santiago's Supply - Retreating 12M/Year
SANTIAGO (AFP) Chile's glaciers are on the retreat, a sign of global warming but also a threat to fresh water reserves at the southern end of South America, a report has found.

In a November report, the Chilean water utility -- Direccion General de Aguas de Chile (DGA) -- said the Echaurren ice fields, which supply the capital with 70 percent of its water needs, are receding up to 12 meters (39.37 feet) per year. Twenty of the glaciers studied receded between 1986 and 2007 in Campos de Hielo Sur, the third largest ice reserve in the world after Antarctica and Greenland. At the current rate of decline, Echaurren and other small glaciers close to Santiago could vanish over the next half century.

"The results indicate that the Campos de Hielo Sur glaciers generally tend to recede, which could be due to climate change in the region," the study said. "The glaciers have receded up to 580 meters (1,900 feet) due to reduced rainfall recorded by weather stations in Patagonia and temperatures rising by about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the region over the last century."

The Chilean glaciers, located mostly in the remote flatlands of Patagonia, have receded by about 67 meters per year between 1986 and 2001 and by about 45 meters between 2001 and 2007, according to DGA.

The Jorge Montt receded the most of all glaciers studied, by 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) in 21 years, a loss of 40 square kilometers (25 square miles). The San Rafael glacier in southern Chile lost 12 kilometers (7.45 miles) over 136 years.

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http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iXo8...
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