Natural paradises in danger to be saved: Perito Moreno



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Natural paradises in danger to be saved: Perito Moreno

The Perito Moreno Glacier is a glacier located inside a lake in the Los Glaciares National Park. The current levels of temperature rise mean that the ice melts much more quickly and that the water of Perito Moreno is unable to refreeze.

Located 78 km from the tourist resort El Calafate, it takes its name from the explorer Francisco Moreno, a pioneer who studied the region in the 19th century and played a leading role in defending the Argentine territory in the conflict that arose around the dispute over the international border with Chile.

The peculiarity of the Perito Moreno is that it is a glacier in continuous and rapid movement. The front of the Perito Moreno is formed by an anterior tongue about 5 km long which stands out for over 60 m on the Argentino lake.

The movement is due to the existence at the base of the glacier of a sort of water cushion that keeps it detached from the rock. Due to this movement there is an advance of the ice of about 2 meters per day. A particular tourist attraction is represented by another typical feature of Perito Moreno: the ice bridge.

The erosion on the ice dam by the water of Lake Argentino creates an ice bridge between the front of the advancing glacier and the shore of the lake itself. Currently every 2-4 years we witness the breaking of the bridge, caused by the pressure of the advancing ice.

The dam / rupture cycle is not regular and occurs at frequencies ranging from twice a year to less than once a decade.
The Perito Moreno appears to be one of the few glaciers currently in progress and for this reason it is often the subject of discussions related to global warming.

An Argentine researcher, Jorge Rabasa, carrying out surveys in the summer of 2007, found that the Perito Moreno Glacier has lost fourteen meters of thickness at the edges in the last two years, arguing that the glacier is affected by global warming.

On the other hand, other Argentine researchers believe that the monthly or annual phenomena of loss or accumulation of ice are part of natural cycles of the Perito Moreno. In July 2008, during the austral winter, significant ruptures occurred that normally occur during the summer period.

Some experts have cited global warming as a reason. Over the past 5 years, the glacier has been relentlessly retreating, suffering the fate of all other ice in the world.