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Open AccessArticle

60 Years of Glacier Elevation and Mass Changes in the Maipo River Basin, Central Andes of Chile

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Institut für Geographie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, D-910158 Erlangen, Germany
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Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland
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Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
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Centre for Advanced Studies in Arid Zones (CEAZA), CL-1720256 La Serena, Chile
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School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
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Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics (IDYST), University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
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Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
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Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas, Universidad Austral, CL-5110566 Valdivia, Chile
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Dirección General de Aguas, Ministerio de Obras Públicas, CL-8340687 Santiago, Chile
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Universidad de Magallanes, CL-6210427 Punta Arenas, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(10), 1658; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12101658
Received: 13 April 2020 / Revised: 11 May 2020 / Accepted: 13 May 2020 / Published: 21 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryospheric Remote Sensing III)
Glaciers in the central Andes of Chile are fundamental freshwater sources for ecosystems and communities. Overall, glaciers in this region have shown continuous recession and down-wasting, but long-term glacier mass balance studies providing precise estimates of these changes are scarce. Here, we present the first long-term (1955–2013/2015), region-specific glacier elevation and mass change estimates for the Maipo River Basin, from which the densely populated metropolitan region of Chile obtains most of its freshwater supply. We calculated glacier elevation and mass changes using historical topographic maps, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurements (TanDEM-X), and airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) digital elevation models. The results indicated a mean regional glacier mass balance of −0.12 ± 0.06 m w.e.a−1, with a total mass loss of 2.43 ± 0.26 Gt for the Maipo River Basin between 1955–2013. The most negative glacier mass balance was the Olivares sub-basin, with a mean value of −0.29 ± 0.07 m w.e.a−1. We observed spatially heterogeneous glacier elevation and mass changes between 1955 and 2000, and more negative values between 2000 and 2013, with an acceleration in ice thinning rates starting in 2010, which coincides with the severe drought. Our results provide key information to improve glaciological and hydrological projections in a region where water resources are under pressure. View Full-Text
Keywords: glacier mass balance; glacier elevation changes; mountain glaciers; central Andes; LiDAR; InSAR glacier mass balance; glacier elevation changes; mountain glaciers; central Andes; LiDAR; InSAR
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Farías-Barahona, D.; Ayala, Á.; Bravo, C.; Vivero, S.; Seehaus, T.; Vijay, S.; Schaefer, M.; Buglio, F.; Casassa, G.; Braun, M.H. 60 Years of Glacier Elevation and Mass Changes in the Maipo River Basin, Central Andes of Chile. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 1658.

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