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Water 2018, 10(5), 619; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10050619

Decrease in Snow Cover over the Aysén River Catchment in Patagonia, Chile

1
Laboratory for Analysis of the Biosphere (LAB), University of Chile, Avenida Santa Rosa N° 11315, 8820808 Santiago, Chile
2
University of Aysén, Calle Obispo Vielmo N° 62, 5952039 Coyhaique, Chile
3
Department of Environmental Sciences and Renewable Natural Resources, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Chile, Avenida Santa Rosa N° 11315, 8820808 Santiago, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 February 2018 / Revised: 2 May 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
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Abstract

The evidence for global warming can be seen in various forms, such as glacier shrinkage, sea ice retreat, sea level rise and air temperature increases. The magnitude of these changes tends to be critical over pristine and extreme biomes. Chilean Patagonia is one of the most pristine and uninhabited regions in the world, home to some of the most important freshwater reservoirs as well as to evergreen forest, lakes and fiords. Furthermore, this region presents a sparse and weak network of ground stations which must be complemented with satellite information to determine trends on biophysical parameters. The main objective of this work is to present the first assessment on snow cover over the Aysén basin in Patagonia-Chile by using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data from the period 2000–2016. The MOD10A2 product was processed at 500 × 500 m spatial resolution. The time-series analysis consisted in the application of non-parametric tests such as the Mann–Kendall test and Sen’s slope for annual and seasonal mean of snow covered area (SCA). Data from ground meteorological network and river discharges were also included in this work to show the trends in air temperature, precipitation and stream flow during the last decades. Results indicate that snow cover shows a decreasing non-significant trend in annual mean SCA with a −20.01 km2⋅year−1 slope, and neither seasonal mean shows statistical significance. The comparison with in situ data shows a seasonal decrease in stream flows and precipitation during summer. The hydrological year 2016 was the year with the most negative standardized joint anomalies in the period. However, the lack of in situ snow-monitoring stations in addition to the persistence of cloud cover over the basin can impact trends, creating some uncertainties in the data. Finally, this work provides an initial analysis of the possible impacts of global warming as seen by snow cover in Chilean Patagonia. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow cover; MODIS; Aysén; Patagonia; Chile snow cover; MODIS; Aysén; Patagonia; Chile
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Pérez, T.; Mattar, C.; Fuster, R. Decrease in Snow Cover over the Aysén River Catchment in Patagonia, Chile. Water 2018, 10, 619.

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