May 23, 2019 / 9:28 PM / a month ago

Chile's Southern Patagonia Ice Field ruptured by climate change: scientists

A general view of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in the Andes mountain range, Chile March 14, 2019 in this image take from social media. Direccion General De Aguas Del Ministerio De Obras Publicas via REUTERS

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda

(Reuters) - Chile’s 12,000 square kilometer (4,633 square mile) Southern Patagonia Ice Field split in two and is likely to continue to fracture amid climate change, according to a team of Chilean scientists who were in the region in March.

Gino Casassa, chief of the Snow and Glacier Division of Chile’s DGA water authority, told Reuters increasing temperatures along the Andes Mountains in southern Chile and Argentina have meant less snow and ice to replenish the region’s abundant glaciers.

“What occurred is a fracture as the ice has retreated, Casassa said.

The chunk of ice that split off from the main glacier was estimated at 208 square kilometers (80.3 square miles), a relatively small part of the ice field.

But Casassa said it may be a sign of things to come.

The ice field, he said, is now “split in two, and we’ll likely discover further divisions to the south,” he said.

Two icebergs broke off the Grey Glacier in southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park earlier this year, adding to fears that such ruptures are becoming more frequent.

Reporting by Natalia Ramos, writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Grant McCool

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