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The Tyndall Glacier is an impressive outlet glacier, which is part of the Campo de Hielo Patagónico Sur, located in Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena region. This glacier is one of the largest in the Patagonian region, with a surface area over 300 km². Its main glacier terminus is in the Geike Lake, which began to take form around 1940 due to the glacier retreat. Before this, the glacier terminus was in the Tyndall Lake. The magnitude and importance of this glacier makes it a key element of the glacier dynamics of the area, making it an object of study for scientists and experts in the field.

The Laboratory of Glaciology has detected an alarming loss of the glacier’s mass, which results in a significant retreat that has exposed dinosaur fossils at its east margin. According to the reports, the glacier has lost an average of 2.5 meters of mass per year since 2000-2014, and a great part of this loss is caused by the frontal ablation. The basin of Geike Lake has experienced a depth of more than 200 meters due to the loss of the mass balance, which points out an alarming situation.

 

 

In April 2023, there was an alarming retreat and calving of the Tyndall Glacier, which caused a reduction of its area by 1.5 km² in just a month and a significant increase in the Geikie Lake area to 21 km². This situation is worrying because in 1986 the lake area was only 12 km², and the glacier was directly connected to the Tyndall Lake. However, due to the glacier retreat, the lake expanded to 17 km² in 2013 and 18 km² in 2010, when the glacier separated from the TyndallLake. It’s clear that climate change is seriously affecting the glaciers of the world, particularly the Tyndall Glacier, which hurts the environment and the biodiversity of the area.

In 2003, an ice calving occurred in the Tyndall Glacier that caused the loss of a big part of its prominent central tongue. Since then, the front of the glacier has experienced a limited retreat, although the thinning has continued. In late March and early April of 2023, the central terminus tongue broke off, followed by a biggest calving event before April 12th that could be considered the most significant in the last 20 years. It’s quite alarming how Tyndall’s Glacier’s front activity intensifies and experiments similar retreats to the O’Higgins Glacier.

As Fundación Glaciares Chilenos, we urgently call on the competent authorities to take concrete actions to mitigate climate change and the accelerated loss of our glaciers. The increase in global temperature is causing an unprecedented retreat on the ice mass and endangering not only our natural heritage but also the lives of the communities that depend on the resources. It’s necessary to act immediately and effectively to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to promote policies that encourage adaptation and mitigation of climate change. As a society, we must take responsible actions and do our part to protect our ecosystems’ integrity and to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

 

References:
  • Glacier Mass Changes of Lake-Terminating Grey and Tyndall Glaciers at the Southern Patagonia Icefield Derived From Geodetic Observations and Energy and Mass Balance Modeling. Link
  • Laboratory of Chile. Link
  • Tyndall Glacier, Chile April 2023 Calving Retreat. Link
  • Tyndall Glacier: Cradle of Ichthyosaurs. Link
Featured image:
  • Tyndall Glacier, Campo de Hielo Patagónico Sur, Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena región / © Franco Buglio.