Thursday, July 05, 2007

Freshwater lake flushed out to sea

Would you believe that the area in the picture used to be a lake? It is mind blowing to think that the water in this two-hectare sized lake disappeared in the space of two months. It just got flushed out into sea! All that fresh water lost due to global warming.

The lake is in the Magallanes region in the south of Chile. When rangers checked it in March, it was as normal. When they returned in May, "they found a huge dry crater and several stranded chunks of ice that used to float on the water". When the lake's disappearance was first reported in June, geologists were speculating that geological disturbances were responsible.

Now, the BBC reports that it was global warming:
Experts now say melting glaciers put pressure on an ice wall that acted as a dam, causing it to give way.Water in the lake flowed out of the breach into a nearby fjord and then out to the sea.
According to glacier specialist Andres Rivera:
"On one side of the Bernardo glacier one can see a large hole or gap, and we believe that's where the water flowed through."

"This confirms that glaciers in the region are retreating and getting thinner."

"This would not be happening if the temperature had not increased."
Apparently, the lake now seems to be filling up again, most likely because the slabs of ice left on the lake bed are melting. You can compare the before and after images on the BBC website.

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