Journal of Glaciology, 12 May 2022
Glaciers in the Jáchal river basin of Argentina are rapidly losing ice. One-quarter of the Agua Negra glacier has disappeared within the past sixty years due to unusually high temperatures, exacerbated by a long-term drought. As global temperatures rise, these mountainous desert regions of Argentina experience more intense dry seasons. Since 2009, the “Desert” Andes (in Argentina and Chile) have experienced an unprecedented drought that is the most persistent and severe ever recorded. This long-term decrease in precipitation reduces snowfall in the Andes, accelerates the decline of the yearly snowpack, and increases the vulnerability of glaciers to sustained extreme melt. The Desert Andes contain a diverse cryosphere with large areas covered by seasonal snow and thousands of mountain, rock, and valley glaciers. These glaciers provide a critical source of local freshwater for downstream communities. The combination of unprecedented dry conditions with rising temperatures puts the Desert Andes’ ice and snow cover in an alarming situation, highlighting the urgent need for emission reductions.